In Romania, children living in rural areas have limited access to culture, few of them go to cinema or to theatre maybe once or twice in their childhood. However, there are passionate people who strive to broaden children’s knowledge through theatre. Florin Runcan, an engineer living in Cluj-Napoca, formed a theatre group in Finișel, where children forget about their burdens and become characters in masterpieces of the Romanian authors Ion Luca Caragiale or Gheorghe Brăescu
Florin Runcan is an engineer, but all his life he has kept in his heart a passion that never disappeared – the theatre. Since high school when he started the Traditional Art School, he dreamed to perform on the biggest stages in the world. He tried to enter the Theatre Faculty from Cluj-Napoca, but he was rejected despite the words: “boy, never give up on theatre, you are meant to be an actor.” Because he wanted to build a future, he started Construction Faculty, but he was a member of the university theatre group. Four years ago, out of love for children whose cultural activity was limited to the literature classes, he founded the theatre group “Scara” in Finișel.
“Children living in rural areas don’t have so many possibilities in terms of culture and it would be great to meet at least once a week to teach them something good. In this way, I can combine my passion for theatre, my love for children and the desire to make something useful for them.”
The aim of the project is to help children become well educated and to broaden their knowledge. They acquire through theatre some skills that help them improve their school performance. He wished the young generation living in villages would have the opportunity to know the wonderful world of theatre.
“Children are shy and sensitive and they need these theatre classes to express themselves better in public. Some are poor children who do not have the possibility to travel around the country and the participation to theatre festivals is a chance for them to see the country. Some are very spoiled children that need to learn how to work in a team. These children need to be shown that they are as talented as those who live in cities and have access to culture.”
He still remembers the joy in their eyes when they saw a theatre play, the enthusiasm of the first competition or the pride they had when they got home with competition prizes. Every hour of rehearsal makes Florin see in them an evolution because these courses are not only cultural education, but education for life.
“I had a girl who did not accept any criticism at the beginning. Every single time I had an observation, she started to cry, but now she is more confident and one of the best actresses. Another boy had problems with literary expression and I was really surprised after two years how good he spoke during an interview. I had children who could be barely heard when they spoke on stage and now they can even shout.”
They face challenges, but they learned to overcome obstacles and move on. Florin travels 60 kilometers once a week to meet with the children. As theatre is a passion for the entire family, Florin’s wife offers him help and support. She buys the costumes, rehearses with children and is the silent voice behind the curtains that gives them confidence when they are overwhelmed with emotions.
“Without my wife it would be almost impossible. All my family is involved and children are part of our family. Our daughter is in the group too.”
So far they have played “ Nașterea Domnului” “Five o Clock” , “Carre de dame cu un scos din pepeni” “ Din vina Zburătorului”.
Florin has future plans. He wants to develop the project for some other villages, so that more and more children will have access to cultural classes and his passion will live through children whom he educated with so much devotion. He also thinks of giving up engineering and following his heart.
“It’s my biggest passion and it may not be late. Every day I think about giving up engineering and start finding a job in theatre. The financial part is a bit tricky because actors are poorly paid. Nevertheless, I think the theatre will win.”