An actor in a hurry by Mădălina Nenică
The fight of a young man with his own destiny renouncing the Romanian stage for studying at a renowned British university.
Cristian Proboi is a young man from ursari people. He is 24 and works as a monitoring operator, validation and data entry at the Centre for Public Policies Monitoring in Bucharest. This is an association which monitors the public policies. His life was not easy at all. Starting with his childhood he had to live in the street, in the parks, communal stairs of blocks or house attics. Throughout the time he had to deal with racism and the meanness from those around him. All these did not stop Cristian to become what he is today.
Cristian Briboi believes that life is absolutely what you make of it. He has a very strong belief in God, but he also believes that God has given us the option to choose. He likes laughing very much and treasures every joyful moment of life. He has found this mix between the idea – that life is what you make of it – and the joy of laughing in a novel written by the Italian author Giulia Carcasi – “Zodia Îndrăgostiţilor”. This is a novel that he heartily recommends to all teenagers. Every young person can be considered the main character of this novel, which represents a life lesson: “Every situation should be analysed from several points of view before a decision is made”.
His life started on an autumn day in 1990, in Bucharest. He was born in a hurry. He came into this world when he was 7 months, his true due date being around Christmas time. He is the youngest of the six children of the Priboi family. Until he was 4 years old, he led a normal, ordinary life. He was just like the other children; we was being fed, he was taken out to play and put to bed on a regular bases.
In the summer of 1995 everything changed. His parents decided to sell their flat in the Militari neighbourhood where they were living in order to buy a house. His mother was already mentally ill and he was going 2-3 times a year to the Domnita Balasa – Balaceanca mental disease hospital. Meanwhile Christian was being taken care of by the older brothers.
After selling the apartment, his parents started fighting and in the end they broke up. Everything was lost in that moment. The money that was needed for buying a house was lost, because the father decided to leave them for another woman. The children were left in the care of the sick mother without having a roof over their heads. They stayed with an uncle for a while, who had a numerous family. They moved in his attic for which they were paying rent. This is how they lived for a year.
“I still remember that in 1996 it snowed during Easter”, says Cristian.
After that year, the uncle decided that they could no longer live in the attic and told them to find another place to live. They have talked to all whom they felt close too – the mother’ parents. The grandfather had a courtyard where he was growing vegetables and raising animals. He did not have anything built there. They asked him to stay there for a while and he let them with on the condition that they would take care of the animals and the garden. They were not allowed to use any products from the garden. They went there and improvised tents with the furniture which they were left with from their previous flat. They covered the tents with some plastic material to protect them from the rain.
It was summer. Cristian was very happy he had somewhere to play. He was running in the court yard all day long, he was playing with the hens and running away from the turkey. His mother was making food while sitting on a small stool next to the trivet and looking at the fire. They were cooking on trivet, in a 20l big pot because there were several mouth to feed and there was no other way of making food. The food was delicious, made with love and shared equally between them.
In front of the courtyard, there was a small spring where Cristian used to go and play with the watering can filling it up and emptying. He would start then all over again. While living there, his sisters quit school and his older brother was enrolled in the army. They could not go to school smelling of smoke and did not have anything – no books, notebooks or rucksacks. Additionally, they were selling seeds together with their mother in order to buy some food.
One night in October, Cristian woke up in his older sister’s arms who was running towards the gate. Everything was burning. It all started from a candle. The firemen came and put out the fire and this is how they lost everything they had, a few pieces of furniture and some photos. Shortly after, the grandfather showed up, but instead of offering them support, he chucked them in the street in the middle of the night.
They did not have a place to go, so, for a while, they lived in parks, sleeping on benches and from time to time they were visiting some relatives. This lasted until they met other people who were in a similar situation. They told them they were living in a block in the Vitan neighbourhood, where other people were living too. The block was just the building skeleton. It did not have any windows, railings, electrical installation or water. Only concrete. This was a very good place for them since winter was approaching and this place was offering them shelter from wind and snow. This is what they did. They went there, found an empty flat on the second floor out of 4 levels and set up house. They covered the opened windows with plastic sheets and built an improvised stove out of a big metal cauldron: – they build a shelter to face the winter. They have stayed there for a year and a half. Afterwards, they moved a few streets away in social housing obtained from the town hall.
He started first grade when he was 9 years old. From the beginning, Cristian stood out because of his good grades. This did not exempt him from being bullied by the children.
“The colleagues did not play with me during breaks”, remembers Cristian, because I had darker skin, did not have nice clothes and I was smelling of smoke.
He was receiving the same treatment when he was going to play in the park. The children were avoiding him and he ended playing by himself. Often he would hide behind a slide and was crying, without anyone seeing him.
His father reappeared in his life on 26 February 2006 in a coffin. His older brother received a phone call from the cohabitant of his father who told them that his father committed suicide. The reason was never found out. Even if his father decided to leave them, they took care he received a Christian burial. This is his only memory that the young man has of his father.
Cristian graduated Sf Sava National College, Sciences, specialisation Mathematics – Informatics. It was very difficult for him to do his homework on his knees at the candle light. During high school he fell in love with drama. They organised a high school drama group. He would spend most of his time typing on the computer the scripts written by the Mathematics teacher. The teacher asked who can type the scripts for him on the computer and Cristian offered his help. They manage to start a drama group who toured the length and breadth of the country. He ended up directing the shows himself.
He finished high school and applied at 2 universities, National Drama and Cinematographic University (UNATC) in Bucharest and Telecommunications, thinking to continue his scientific education. He was admitted to both faculties. He was the eighth on the list at UNATC. On the opening day he went to both places: in the morning at Telecommunications and at 17:00 at UNATC. He decided on the same day to continue at UNATC. He rang the Faculty of Telecommunication and told them he gives up his place, so that another student could benefit of the merits scholarship he would be due, because he had the best admission grade.
He started studying acting full of enthusiasm and expectations and with big plans. He met a professor who, from his point of view, could not see beyond the barriers. He quit acting after two years. He gave up his dream. This decision left deep scars on his soul.
After a while, Cristian acted alongside a heavy name of the Romanian theatre, Dan Condurache, in a film titled “The Black Brigade” where he starred as the main character. The film won numerous awards and received a few nominations at important film festivals.
For the past two years, Cristian has been volunteering within several NGOs that support Romani people. He got involved in a wide range of activities such as: activities centred on the youth segment, informing, counselling and educational orienting; helping children who come from disadvantaged families; promoting inter-ethnic dialogue; identifying pre-schoolers and counselling Romani parents regarding registering their children for kindergarten and school. The colleagues describe Cristian as a capable, sociable and well organised person. Friends talk about him as a true friend whom you can rely all the time and with a good sense of humour. His nicknames are Mac or Arlechino.
In January 2015 he applied to university in Great Britain and was admitted. Now he is waiting to start his studies in Political Sciences and International Relations in Great Britain in order to walk in his older brother, Florin, footsteps. Florin is five years older than Cristian and he is a parliamentary expert at The Chamber of Deputies.
“I intend to graduate in Great Britain and to return home and work in the chosen field, and especially to start a family. I am looking forward to be the best daddy in the world”, says Cristian.
This article can be read here https://madalinagnenica.wordpress.com/2015/04/02/un-actor-grabit/