The first street performance against Roma discrimination
As a performer, executive producer, and project-manager, Alina Şerban put on a street performance in 2009 to explore the impact of anti-discrimination messages delivered by such means as theatrical performances in open, unconventional spaces. The show was presented in various locations in and around Bucharest, in the summer of 2009, with financial support from the Roma Cultural Programme of the Open Society Foundation, and the Romani Crisis anti-discrimination group Romani CRISS.
The street performance included five short plays.
The first one was named after the frequent cautioning of Romanian children by their parents ‘not to play with the gypsies’ – ‘Mom doesn’t allow me to play with the Gypsies.’ This theatrical moment illustrates the situation of a little Roma girl who wants to be accepted by the other children, but she is rejected. This play shows in an explicit way the consequences of prejudging people, especially at a young age. It ends with the display of a banner with the message ‘all children are the same’.
The second play was a love story between a Roma boy and a Romanian girl. The scenes are developed using four different techniques: their meeting, in commedia dell’arte style; the proposal, in cape-and-sword style; the news about the girl being pregnant, in opera style; and the last scene, when they are old and he confesses his ethnicity, and for that he is dumped, in burlesque style. The last scene ends with the display of the message ‘discrimination kills dreams’.
The third play illustrated how people caught in the daily routine live like robots, having the same prejudices and stereotypes. They remain immune, blind, and deaf to the pain of a young pregnant Roma girl. The whole play was mimed.
The fourth play is another love story played in different artistic styles (Grease-like musical; thriller; clowning; slow-motion picture). It reveals how people can maltreat others just by referring to their ethnicity. The play ends with the message ‘ignorance hurts’.
The fifth play illustrates the real story of a Roma child who was killed by his foster mother because he was of Roma ethnicity. The play, whose goal was to sensitize people to the consequences of discrimination, had a huge impact on the public.