I know some of my readers may hold me to this, so may as well admit it myself. In an earlier post I said that, sadly, I sometimes blame myself for not always feeling particularly patriotic.I wrote that with a heavy heart, as I do love my home country. Although I am not proud of it at all, I recently realised that I must be completely apolitical as well. There were elections in Bulgaria a few weeks ago and I didn’t even know there was a polling station… at my work place. I know… I am totally ashamed. Seriously. Not that I would know whom to vote for, anyway…
What I saw last night, however, proved my patriotism point wrong. I went to see a Bulgarian theatre performance in London. A nice excuse for a girls’ night out and a birthday treat for myself. Little did I know that it would actually move me – totally, unexpectedly, romantically, and nearly to tears. Bearing in mind that, as my regular readers may remember (from yet another old post), I am not one to cry easily at such events. And yet it touched a nerve for me. Big time.
Whether it was the actual play (very romantic and a bit sad), or the fact that it gathered a whole venue full of Bulgarians, I have no idea. It may well be a combination of both. The result was an eye-opening catharsis. At least to me.
This is when you know where you belong. When you realise that being a patriot is not necessarily demonstrated by voting and being politically active.
What this performance reminded me is that you carry the love for your country within yourself and it will always define who you are.
The main actor, Tony Dimitrova, is mostly known in Bulgaria as a popular pop singer. She is not even the type of artist whose concert I would buy a ticket to go to – and, yet, her songs filled my eyes with swallowed tears. Her gift to the audience was an addition to the theatrical performance: a heart-warming concert consisting of her most famous songs. The whole venue was cheering and singing along. Even the toilet attendant (who obviously had no idea about Bulgarian culture or what the lyrics were saying) was happily nodding to the music. This is when it totally got to me.
Tony gave her heart out and reminded me what it feels like to be part of the Bulgarian community abroad – on a large scale. I did come to the event with Bulgarian friends, but when the music got us on our feet, the whole of the audience felt like friends. People smiled at each other never having met before – which, I must say, is not a typical thing a Bulgarian would do.
Afterwards, looking for late night food in the shop across the street, I had to ask a couple to move out of my way. I decided to cheekily say it in Bulgarian, rather than English (having obviously overheard their conversation). Their partner-in-crime smiles back at me told me my judgement wasn’t wrong.
I’ll never see them again, but in that particular moment, they felt close to me. Strangely and nicely.
The performance is part of the Festival of Bulgarian Culture taking place in London at the moment. It was brought on stage by the Burgas Theatre ‘Adriana Budevska‘. If you happen to be around or decide to check the festival programme out, I am sure that you will not regret it.