And A Hint of Myself

It’s quite ironic that the sound a moving train makes is “track-a-track”, isn’t it?


I’m sitting in the dusty train, thinking about that. How does a thought like this one all of a sudden form in my head? Look at my friends, sitting there, laughing. I was having fun with them just a moment ago, sitting on the dusty cushion of an old, moth-eaten chair in the train. I’m sometimes moody like this. Especially in situations that require so much self-control. Traveling to Bucharest, being completely alone for a week, with no family, no relatives and no “coincidentally” close family friends nearby. The train was shaking away the slight fear of the unknown. Their laughter helped. Writing was another option I had stuck to, spending an hour alone in the neighboring compartment of the train, building a syllabus of a blog post I was planning to write about the week to come. But I can’t do that for the whole eight-hour trip. All I had was isolating myself for a moment, to clear my thoughts out. And I was thinking about the damned rails of the train. I guess I’d be going back to my friends. Gosh, how I love these people. We had worked so hard the last months and we would finally be getting our reward. We crushed competition with our performance, our text adaptation, and our bold direction choices. We had won. I still can’t believe it, even two months later, even while we’re traveling that way. Ah, how fun this week will be. I could see myself meeting the family that’d be taking me in for the week. I wonder what their house looks like, what they look like… I know that I don’t actually care about that. I’m not sure if it’s selfish to say it, but having a great week is much more important than the social or financial status of the family. I was also excited to see the city. I’d heard it looks like Paris. I’ve never been to Paris. Based on my experience in Vienna, though, I know it’s going to be spectacular. I’m really curious about the tour of the Palace of Parliament – I heard it’s the second biggest in the world! I should really stop daydreaming… “Get up, Martin. Go to them. Attaboy.” I think I’ll sit over here for a second. I love these people. I’m so used to them. Yet right now, I feel like thinking. Just staring out of the window and processing everything that’s going on. We’re going to spend time together all week. We’re going to get to see Dracula’s castle! And the next day, we’ll be performing! I can’t imagine the nervousness when it’s our turn to get on the stage. I remember three years ago, when it was our very first time acting together. This was going to be our third play. Wow, how fast time flies! Yet we’re still together, bound by the Art. We have different endevors outside of It. One plays the guitar, his life is all music. Another‘s a book worm. She’s a total party animal, while she had just performed “Swan Lake” at the National Ballet. I hold that tiny blog and write about what I feel. It’s crazy how the arts are all parts of our lives. That’s what’s keeping us together in this train. Outside of it. We all need time to think, and we all need time for ourselves. But when we collide on stage, there’s no stopping us. No matter where, we’re united by this force. Except maybe on stage. I remembered the story our Drama teacher had told us. The story of how an actor gets on the stage, gives his heart to the audience, and then forgets about it. A “blackout”, she calls it. When an actor isn’t himself, when he drowns so much into his character that he doesn’t even remember his time on stage. In those moments, we were not ourselves, we were not together. But it’s for our own good. I’m sure this separation from reality is going to happen to me this week. I will give every single piece of myself and dissolve in front of those people from all around Europe, until I’m nothing more than the dying scum that my character is. Honesty and sincerity are things I like and I don’t plan on lying to people. So I’ll show them the self-indulgent, awful human being that the Baron is. I’ll make them hate me.  And then, I’ll be back, as that other person, that other guy that’s traveling and thinking. The guy who’s standing in the train, hesitating for a moment whether he should go and talk to his friends or drown in his own thoughts. I should go and laugh with them. I need a gulp of fresh air that isn’t contaminated by my feelings. After all, after a week in the capital of Bucharest, after such a majestic performance, I deserved a rest. I was going towards them, as myself minus one hour.


And the train was still going “track-a-track”, “track-a-track”…


The Joyful City of the Shepard: Arrival

Six AM. It’s a nice Wednesday. After two months of waiting, the day has finally come. After winning the National Theater Festival (In Spanish), we’re off to the International Festival in Bucharest.

It’s a strange place. It copies Paris, with all it’s glamour and luxury, but it’s a dustier, communist version. The food is horrible, some people are, too. It’s too much for me.

This was the first review we got from our Tour Guide teacher at school: an awesome, energetic woman who’s sometimes a bit too honest. I packed my stuff (after the worst job I’d done at a Biology test) and went to sleep, after repacking four times (thanks, Mom). In the morning, I barely woke up. In a hurry to be on time, I grabbed my stuff, passed through the bathroom, put my coat on and jumped outside. It wasn’t cold: a good omen, after the last three months… My Dad took me to the Central Railway station. I got out of the car and, after making a whole circle around it (they’re renovating the building, which is one of the oldest and most communist buildings in Bulgaria), I found my group. My friends were huddled around in a circle, each with their own problems. Some were talking with their parents, one was running from the pigeons, another was half-sleeping on the cold metal benches. I was as sleepy as always, barely standing with my backpack (stuffed with food) and my two bags (filled with clothes and theater stuff). We waited in the Hall for the train to be announced. “Platform 8”, a woman’s voice said said. We went there. It was as cold as it was two hours earlier. The red train, the same one you’ve seen in The Expendables 2, with the sign of the National Railways (БДЖ) on front. The platform, under construction. The people, way too old… We took our places and so started part one of the journey to the city of Bucharest.

An hour passed. We were sleepy but not enough: the ten of us kept talking, and talking, and talking. We didn’t squeeze into one compartment so we went to another part of the train, where there were only seats to choose from, like in a bus. We were traveling up the Iskar defile, on one of the oldest railway tracks in Bulgaria. We watched and thought about stuff. Just imagine: in the same way that we’re sitting here, our friends are sitting in class, not moving, listening to boring lectures about post-WW2 countries and 1900’s Spanish literature. Amongst the high cliffs of the defile, we watched the river flow peacefully. It was like another world, full of little people that looked back at us, that were working and walking and talking. Even the noisy train didn’t interrupt their daily tasks, and they continued whatever they were doing: as if we didn’t exist. I thought: do we really exist if these people don’t know about us? I mean, of course we exist, but in so few of these people’s worlds, in such a vague way…

Continuing along the river, we remembered a story we’d heard in Bulgarian Literature class. Written by Ivan Vazov, one of the biggest and greatest poets and authors in Bulgarian history, it told the story of an old blind man named Yotzo. Grandpa Yotzo lived in a small, cozy village along the Iskar river and all he dreamed of was Bulgaria’s freedom. And he had the luck of being born almost 400 years after the Ottoman invasion. When he Bulgarians were free, but he couldn’t (metaphor incoming) see it with his own eyes. He had heard the tales of this freedom, and he wanted to understand it for himself. Close to his home, at the bottom of the small cliff, railway was built, with Bulgarian money, by Bulgarian engineers. Grandpa Yotzo was so proud, finally being able to feel Bulgaria’s freedom, that every day he went to the edge of the cliff and waved at the passing trains. Even though he was a character from a simple story about freedom, he was a symbol, a legend. At the very cliff that Vazov had seen in his story, today there is a statue: a reminder that Dyado Yotzo is still there, watching. Waving. We exist in his world. And does he exist in ours?

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My Relationship with the Stage

“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women are merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.

William Shakespeare

Let me start this blog off with an overused Shakespeare quote. Maybe I should’ve started it all off with a short autobiography, a description of me, my life, my friends and family, maybe a little bit about my hobbies, what I like and dislike… But I decided not to. My first post will simply be a quote with a bit of my thoughts with it, so you, my dear reader, can see the real me, how I think and what as perceive as right and wrong. I’ve always loved writing stuff, essays that I can express my opinion through and with which I show how I see the world, cheesy songs that I just can’t find the right melody for, poems (most of which usually suck, but rhyme, so what the hey). So, let me get to the main point of today’s (or this week’s/month’s, I’m not so sure how often I’ll be posting) post: ME.

I wouldn’t consider myself a “player”. Truth be told, I’ve never even had a girlfriend. By Shakespeare’s interpretation, I am one, so I’ll accept the great poet’s word without arguing (something quite unusual for me). I’m a player in the bigger game of “Life!” (no copyright infringement, MB) and I’m doing my best at making the most out of it, simply by playing in my own way. But sometimes, The Game of Life is a hard game to play and I get tired, say “To hell with all of this.” and give up. It’s a mistake I’ve made a lot of times these 10 years of my conscious life and I decided that it couldn’t go on. I was always a person that loved being, well, other people. When I was a little kid, there isn’t a superhero that I haven’t pretended to be, a place I haven’t imagined I’ve visited, a person who I hadn’t played out a conversation with. After watching a movie, I’d get all excited and relive the motion picture the next three days, building castles of pillows, using fallen branches as wands, or climbing up a tree as if I was going up a long-forgotten temple. This, sometimes seen as childish, part of me I’m proud to say I’ve preserved and I still feel the same excitement after seeing a movie. I read a lot, I play PC games, so I try to keep this part of my personality functioning – and I really think I’ve managed to do that. And, despite all my efforts to do so, I think I still wouldn’t have managed to retain the childish Me running. That is, if I haven’t discovered Drama.

Ah, arts. So much meaning into something so small/short. Whether it’s a simple painting, or a play, or a movie, the effort put in it is humongous and is always appreciated. Once I discovered that drawing is not for me (oh, the horror), I switched to the most expressive of arts: theater. True, it is in Spanish and it’s a bit more difficult than it would be in Bulgarian (or English), but it’s something. And, although a bit skeptical at first, I found it was just for me. And boy, do I love it. I love it to bits, I love it so much that I’ve decided that’s what I want to do my whole life. The expressiveness, the movement, the feelings are all stuff that add to the feeling, but the best part for me is the possibility to be another person, to live other lives. It’s not like I’m not happy with what I have or who I am, I just need to be someone else, from time to time. To forget all my problems, my worries and live another life, the life of the crazily happy old hotel manager, of the worried father, of the cranky Baron Von Von… and much more people to come. I feel acting in my blood, and I feel the need to act as much as I feel the need to eat (15234 times a day – it’s a 17-year-old thing). It’s fun and it helps me breathe more easily every day. Now that the Play (I’ll be talking about that a bit later) has passed, I start to feel the hands of life slowly starting to choke me once more, and I’m slowly drowning in the boring school-homework-sleep cycle once again. And I need a lifesaver to pull me out of the whirlpool that my lame pre-Drama life. Any suggestions, readers?