Platform for Arts, Institute of Art Studies, BAS, did a series of exclusive interviews with this country’s leading artists and art historians about how does it feel to make art amid the coronavirus pandemic, about its impact on culture and long-term implications.
Vesela Babinova is a Bulgarian theatre/film actress. She graduated from NATFA under the tutelage of Prof. Plamen Markov. Won Askeer Rising Star Award ‘12 and Icarus Award for her role in Pop-Folk Chronicles: White Birds and Bullets. She played in theatrical productions such as The Moth, Lonely Characters, Hamlet, The Drunks, Romulus the Great, Tom Sawyer, The Miser, The Celebration, etc. Filmography: Omnipresent, A Picture with Yuki, Father’s Day TV show. The premiere of A Bulgarian Ship Sinks is coming soon.
Q: What are you doing now during self-isolation at home? Are you making the best use of your time?
A: Mostly reading, doing exercises, watching films or TV shows, learning a new language. I definitely have things to catch up with.
Q: At what point of your work were you caught up in the COVID-19 crisis?
A: We were rehearsing Serotonin, based on Michel Houellebecq’s new novel at Azarian Theatre. We had a fortnight until the premiere. In remains to be seen what happens next. Other rehearsals lay in store for me, but absolutely nothing is known about them for now.
Q: How did the pandemic change your everyday life, professional agenda and decisions?
A: I already broached on my work above. As for my everyday life, I made more time for myself, a long forgotten thing. I sleep enough, read for hours, watch the films I have wanted to for quite a while. Well, of course, like everybody else we cleaned every corner of the house, threw away unnecessary things, old clothes and what not. I think that everybody who are making the best use of their time and look into themselves will come out purer at heart, humble and seeing.
Do you have a room of your own to work in or you find it difficult to isolate yourself, taking care of young children or students?
A: I have no such responsibilities yet, so I have nothing to complain about. I definitely have a room of my own and do what I have got in mind.
Q: What smouldering problematic subjects surfaced as a result of self-isolation and with all activities across Bulgaria and the world cancelled?
A: This is a perennial subject that in Bulgaria culture is the last thing to think about, as it is chronically missing in the lives of the powers that be and they, respectively, see no reason to take care and even less to think of culture. And they have every right to. With poor education, and it is not a secret that education here is poor, with no culture, you have a flock to be herded into the right direction. In the conditions we are now, the best part of the flock concerns themselves only with grazing, just listening to the instructions and following the orders. A policy working for 75 or so years now (much longer in fact, but I do not feel like saying it out loud).
Q: Your opinion about the impact on creative and research quests and the long-term implications?
A: It will be very negatively affected. To prevent it from happening, everything must be carefully thought out, well considered, the specific needs of each sector must be taken into account, who are the people representing a certain sector. I’d repeat that the culture is the last thing worried about, so I shall refrain from making forecasts, but I do not think that culture will receive adequate support. We are already witnessing ridiculous paradoxes.
Q: Where do you expect to get support in the declared state of emergency over Covid-19?
A: From my disposition and morale only.
Q: What about the therapeutic role of art in the resocialization after the pandemic ends?
A: Art is already playing its role. Where would we all be without films, books and music! One can’t do household chores all the time, but also tend to the needs of the soul.
Q: Any ideas about how to resume this country’s cultural activities after the end of the pandemic?
A: I have not the slightest idea of when it will end and given the laws drafted in a day alone and enforced for a week, then revoked and then enforced again, I really can’t imagine when this all will be over. I am unaware of when the pandemic will come to an end or of the death toll. It is only then that I’d share some ideas. Now I just take care not to be downhearted, bracing myself for a headlong rush, as if there never was a suspension.