Living statues festival wows Romania’s capital

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BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Wait, did that statue really move?

It may have been the question many people asked while taking a walk in Bucharest over the past week, during the International Living Statues Festival.

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Artists from eight countries embodied 64 statues in the old quarter of Romanian capital, in popular parks and in the garden of the spectacular Filipescu-Cesianu residence, built in 1892 in the Belle Epoque period.

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Actors of the Romanian Masca Theatre, the festival’s organizer, brought to life Parisian street vendors from the 17th and 18th centuries in performances seen by an estimated 30,000 people.

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Bucharest is one of several Eastern European cities known as the “Paris of the East” because of its French-inspired architecture and gardens.

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Children, some very young, were the most visibly fascinated spectators.

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The characters’ vividly colored outfits, some inspired by the famous Romanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi’s iconic Endless Column, were the main attraction. While the high-pitched screaming involved in some performances scared a few, others enjoyed the interaction and even offered to share their ice cream with the actors.

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The living statues from Britain, Germany, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Ukraine engaged in sudden moments of interaction with the public, often startling the spectators.

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“We hope to enhance the Romanian public’s abilities to truly understand and appreciate this art form, regarded in the past as a mere occupation associated with amateurs or even begging,” Masca Theatre director Mihai Malaimare told The Associated Press, describing the event as “the largest European festival of the genre.”

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