First Mainstage Opens with a Tale of Barbaric Love


Actors part of the new mainstage production, “For a Barbarian Woman,” rehearse in Franny’s Space. (Ai Elo/The Observer)


Actors part of the new mainstage production, “For a Barbarian Woman,” rehearse in Franny’s Space. (Ai Elo/The Observer)

In this year’s first mainstage production, “For a Barbarian Woman” promises to expose the audiences to a host of new visual experiences, telling a unique story from the shores of the Black Sea. The project, put together by professor Matthew Maguire, theatre program director, shows his appreciation for the nature of the story and the connection between two different time periods in which people come to terms with their reality. The play, directed by Niegel Smith and written by Saviana Stanescu, has something to offer everyone.

OBSERVER: Could you tell me about the play’s story?

SAVIANA STANESCU: The play is about a clash between cultures that I’ve been interested in since I moved here from Romania. It parallels two stories, two millennia apart. One, Ovid, was an exile in what is now Constanza, a city by the Black Sea in Romania. It is a story about Ovid and a barbarian woman Theo, a Getae woman and a story that happens in 2009 between a NATO Colonel, an American, and the Romanian interpreter. Both stories happen in the same place, by the Black Sea, so we have the Black Sea as a character. It’s a kind of intersection of all these elements: Politics, nature, life, and love.

NIGEL SMITH: And even the fulfillment of one’s purpose in life you know. There’s a parallel between the character Theo and the character Ovid and what they have to offer the world and the Muses and the Black Sea and the nature that surrounds us being able to inspire us to actually live out what our gifts are.

OBSERVER: Is this play all original or a remake of some sort?

S.S.: No, the play is still in development and that is the new thing here. It’s been really helpful to work towards a production with an amazing director like Nigel and a great cast that’s playful and ready to do things. So I felt that this was the best way to actually work on a new play that hasn’t had a world premiere yet.

N.S.: And also I think it’s quite interesting that Saviana in one of our earlier conversations revealed to me that she had actually written a series of poems from the voice of Theo as the Barbarian Woman. And it is believed that Ovid may have written a poem for her in her language, so it has a real poetic sensibility. There are even moments written from verse but everything you experience is something that has come from Saviana, told through the perspective of each time period.

OBSERVER: What kind of audience does the play appeal to?

N.S.: I think it’s for anybody because I think the gift that Saviana has is that she’s able to interrogate cultures in a society from a very deep, intellectual, artistic rigor. But at the same time there’s great humanity and humor. It’s just good stories: people falling in love, people getting angry, conflict, war and all of that is in this play.

S.S.: I think you can, of course, talk about all these big issues and intellectual issues but actually the play is a lot of fun. It’s very entertaining, playful, funny,  beautiful with lots of love and humor. So yeah, I think everyone can get something out of it.

For a Barbarian Woman
When: The weeks of Oct.6 and Oct. 12 at 8 p.m.
Where: Pope Auditorium
Price: $5 for Students, $10 for Faculty and Alumni and $15 for General Admission