HEADFIRST

By Kristin Bakardzhieva
Photography: Radina Gancheva

'A gift from the angels' - calls him singer and actress Nona Yotova. We know him for his performances on stage the National Theatre "Ivan Vazov" and the Youth Theatre "Nikolay Binev", as well as his participation in numerous contemporary Bulgarian movies and TV series. A third-generation actor, he often speaks of himself in the first person plural. This is not accidental. He has a twin brother - Deyan Angelov, who is also an actor. We meet Darin to talk about the National Academy for Theatre and Film Arts; about theatre and life in general. We spend 30 minutes together - enough to give meaning to our lives.

 

Why did you choose theatre?

I did not chose theatre, the theatre chose me.

You started with pantomime. How did you get from this to drama theatre?

At school me and my brother Deyan were very spirited and vigorous children; we even practised karate. But, before you realize it, the time comes to make your first important choice: how to move on with your life. Whether you become someone important for the society, or just an ordinary consumer. And we wanted to evolve as individuals. We would not be consumers who only enjoy the benefits without leaving a trail. In fact, consumers leave trails - but they look ugly and smell bad. So we decided to find out what can we do with our lives. It had to be something crazy that could be done with the body and a bit of personal skills. So we went with pantomime. The initiative to apply in NATFA was mine, but that year Stefan Danailov did not start a new class. And I wanted to study under him or Coco Azarian. In order not to waste time, we enrolled in pantomime, and next year we transferred in with Stefan Danailov.


What did NATFA give you?

I met very down-to-earth people. People with huge hearts filled with great love. Not only for their profession, but love as a state of being. Love for their characters, for people, even for those who try to play tricks on them. National Academy opened my doors to the infinite space called theatre. It lifted the curtain. There are many secrets that you can solve only when you touch the heart of the theatre – that is the stage. It is a different world. The speed at which life revolves is completely different. Energy is different. And it is beautiful.

 

What is the funniest anecdote from your student years?

They are countless. Especially when you are Stefan Danailov's apprentice, you get 365 days of endless party and fun stories, multiplied by four. As we were his students, the National Theatre used us as extras for free. In return, we carried our rehearsals and exams there.

We were very happy because thus we met all the legends of Bulgarian theatre. Usually we were allowed to rehearse until 10 pm. But in theatre, time flows differently. At 10 pm, the Master pulled money out of his pocket, looked around and said: "Hey twins, go buy sandwiches, coffee and water. Tonight we stay up late". We would stay there until two or three o'clock in the morning. The most meaningful conversations happened then.

I remember sometimes after a performance, the Master gathered the entire class in a restaurant, locked us inside and made a program. "You say a rhyme; you will sing; you will play a dance; you tell us a fable ..." Of course, everything flowed under the direction of Stefan Danailov.

Have you ever felt uncertain in the theatre?

Every time. Especially before the première. The first meeting with the audience is a personal thing. Everything we do is for them. If you disappoint your audience - you destroy not only yourself but also the name of your teachers, your theatre and the whole team.

How do you deal with difficulties?

I hit them head on. If I try to go around them, they will follow me. Better to break my head, then heal, and move on to face the next obstacle.

 

As a student did you ever think that you would accomplish everything you have done so far?

No, I didn't. I will never forget how, as first year students with Stefan Danailov, me and my brother went to see "The Tempest", directed by Alexander Morfov. And we both daydreamed – "Can you imagine standing on this stage one day?" Well, eventually the moment came when we stepped on stage. And not only did we step but we also played in the exact same spectacle. When you conquer a dream you unconsciously start looking for another. Each one should be more ambitious than the last.

 

When was the moment in your career that made you realize that it is worth staying in Bulgaria?

Each and every moment. Bulgaria has a very rich history. You can learn a lot from it and contribute to it. One of those moments was in November 2004, the première of the play "Outcasts". When we cried out "Long live Bulgaria!" from the stage, we saw people transform in real time. Coming out of the theatre, they were ready to make a revolution, to cherish and protect the name of their country. It is worth it to be here and to bring change.

 

Is "Outcasts" your favourite spectacle?

I adore it. I am proud to be one of its creators. I have not missed any of the performances, more than 250 by now. I've overcome all of fate's challenges that have tried to prevent me from going on stage. I've played "Outcasts" with a broken neck, or hand, or foot ... Just because I love it. And I'd still play it even if I'm dead.

I'm saying this because I'm sure Chocho Popyordanov is with us to this day. During the 249th performance, in the scene at the Greek tavern, I was sitting next to Valeri Yordanov. I could feel him starting to draw heavy breaths. I whispered to him: "Is everything okay?" He said: "Yes... I saw Chocho." This is a phenomenal spectacle that has already written its name in golden letters in the history of Bulgarian theatre.

 

What would you advise Bulgarian students?

To find out who they want to be, and be that person.

- ID -

Born in Sofia on August 30, 1980, Darin Angelov graduated in Drama Theatre from NATFA in 2004. In 2005, he won an "Asker" for a promising young actor with his role of Mozart in "Amadeus" by Peter Shaffer. Some of his most important appearances are the performances "Outcasts," "Don Juan," "Hamlet," "Life is wonderful", "The Merry Wives of Windsor," "Kingdom of Earth", "Inspector", "Great guys," "The Tempest". He has participated in the film productions "Outcasts", "Glass House," "The Ungiven", "A calorie of tenderness". While you are reading this interview, probably Darin will be on your TV screen as part of the fifth season of "Undercover". His latest performances on stage the National Theatre are "Blue Bird" by Maurice Maeterlinck and "Long Day's Journey into Night" by Eugene O'Neill.

 

- Did you know that… -

On the website of the National Academy - www.natfiz.bq, you'll find a useful list of the international projects and programs in which the Academy is involved. The highlights among these are "Erasmus+", HUMART, TRI DOC; and for the rest we hope you will tell us first-hand.