Columbia University School of the Arts Theatre Arts Professor Andrei Serban’s play Cries and Whispers won three UNITER Awards at a gala on April 18. The play, which deconstructs Ingmar Bergman’s classic film of the same title, won the award for Best Production. Serban won the award for Best Director, and the actor playing Bergman won Best Actor in a Leading Role.
The awards, which are distributed by the Union of Theatre People of Romania, are the nation’s greatest theatrical honor—the equivalent of the Tony Award in the United States. UNITER is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization, established after the Romanian Revolution to support the nation’s theatre professionals. Serban, who couldn’t attend the awards ceremony, sent a message dedicating the show to “the genius of Ingmar Bergman” and to “the exceptional actresses in the production.”
Serban and Daniela Dima adapted their challenging and innovative play from the screenplay of Bergman’s film and from Bergman’s memoir, The Magic Lantern. Also drawing on Serban’s own meditations on directing, art, and mortality, the play explores the film and the process of art-making from the inside out.
“I like to lay impossible bets with myself. To stage Cries and Whispers, one of the most staggering movies of the history of cinema, is a challenge I take without knowing where does it lead, without knowing if it is possible to recreate on stage that unsurpassable experience the movie provides,” Serban said in a statement before the play’s opening.
The play enjoyed a run at the Cluj-Napoca State Hungarian Theatre and also was staged in May at the Sibiu International Theatre Festival and in November at the 20 National Theatre Festival in Bucharest.