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PHILIP ARNOULT, founder & director

Project:    Festival
Partner:   Danail Chirpansky International Student
                Theater Festival
                Mirena Kerezova
                Mila Lyutskanova
                Veneta Angelkova
                Yoanna Temelkova
                Teodora Lazarova
                Nikeya Petrova
Dates:      September 25 to 30, 2020
                On hold due to COVID-19 pandemic
Place:       Stara Zagora, Bulgaria

Photo by Bartha Máté

In Search of Theater's Future

Six women, six friends, a tragedy and the compulsion to create hope from despair. That is the nexus of the Danail Chirpansky International Student Theater Festival, which, since 2017, has run biannually in the picturesque Bulgarian town of Stara Zagora, two hours from the capital of Sophia, and 2 minutes from the fascinating ruins of an old Roman city. Its purpose is to give students their first experience performing in an international setting, and to encourage them to engage with other cultures and styles of work even before they turn professional.


Danail Chirpansky was a popular, talented actor whose life was cut short tragically in a car accident. Devastated by the loss, six of his former classmates resolved to build a living monument to his memory – the first Bulgarian festival for student productions at theater academies throughout Europe and the world. From the festival website:


“Dani may not have been a celebrity, but he changed the life of many people with his perseverance, tireless dedication, constant striving for perfection, courage, human understanding and love that he passed on to those around him.

Since we didn’t want to allow such rare and precious presence to leave us, we decided that in his memory, we would start a tradition, inspired by him and his dreams and turn it into an event which would help other young students realize their potential. Our aim is to give them the inspiration that our beloved friend possessed.”


The first two festivals in 2017 (funded in part by a UNESCO grant) and 2019 hosted performances by students from Greece, Spain, Russia, Georgia, the UK, Israel, Poland, Macedonia and Bulgaria. In addition to performances, the festival offers visiting students the opportunity to attend master classes and lectures with world-class directors, actors, musicians, and more. A unique and important aspect of the festival is that all visiting groups are supported in residence for the full festival run, making it possible for everyone to see the work of their foreign colleagues and to share experiences with them. The jury chair of the 2017 festival was Russia's renowned director Kama Ginkas. The acclaimed Bulgarian theater and film director Javor Gardev chaired the jury in 2019.


Longtime CITD partner John Freedman participated in the 2019 festival as a juror (his wife, the Russian actress Oksana Mysina was a lecturer) and came away convinced he had experienced something out of the ordinary. This was much more than enthusiasm. The energy level, the quality of work, the meticulous organization, the professional focus, and the ever-present good will set this festival apart from many that he had attended.

Always prepared to provide support for the good and the new,


CITD has made a longterm commitment to the Danail Chirpansky International Student Theater Festival beginning with the 2020 edition.

Dollar Daddys performance

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