Peter Budevski graduated with a Master’s Degree and Golden Medal for Academic Achievement from the National Academy for Theatre and Film Arts (NATFA) in Sofia, Bulgaria, in 1986.
Two years earlier he was an interpreter for the guest performances of the Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, Kentucky, in Sofia. Working closely with actors like Ken Jenkins (“Scrubs”), Caroline Kava (“Born on the Fourth of July”) a.o. gave him his first chance to get acquainted with the American Acting tradition. As a result of the creative exchange with the theatre’s artistic director Jon Jory, a year later Peter translated and directed “Third and Oak: the Laundromat” by Marsha Norman (Bulgarian premiere), which introduced the influential new wave of American female playwrights of the 70′s and 80′s to the Bulgarian theatrical community.
In 1986 his production of “Hyménées Modernes” by Benoit Marbot was awarded with the Special Prize of the Jury at the International Festival of the European Theatre Academies (FETE) in Ales, France.
As a student in NATFA Peter acted in all three graduation productions of the acting class we was assigned to (Jack Absolute in “The Rivals” by R.B. Sheridan, Paul in “Absent Friends” by Alan Ayckborn, Lieutenant Voinov in “Manhatress” by St.L. Kostov). Later he also took part as an actor in two of his own productions – the Man from Dostoyevski’s “Notes from the Underground“, and Orsino from Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night“.
First Steps in Directing
During his first years as a professional director, working in different theatres, Peter focused on exploring the theme of the lone rebel against an unjust society (“Blue Sky, with Clouds All over It” by Vladimir Arro (1985), “The Metr-an-page Story” by Aleksander Vampilov (1986), “The Lark” by Jean Anouilh (1987).
Later, with the warming of the political climate in Bulgaria in the late 80-s his productions included some of the most openly political dramatic works that had been previously banned: (“Shopi” by Ivan Radoev (1988), “District Hospital” and “The Last Stop” by Hristo Boytchev (1987 and 1989) – world premieres, “Mandate” by Nikolai Erdman (1989) – Bulgarian premiere).
In 1988 Peter was invited as a guest director to the Russian Drama Theater in Kokchetav, Kazakhstan. His production “The Autumn of an Inquisitor” by Georgi Danailov was awarded at the Festival of Contemporary Bulgarian Drama in the Soviet Union for its “outstanding depiction of the complex realities in the reforming Bulgarian society”.
In 1990 Peter became the co-founder of the Free Theatre Company (FTC) in Sofia, which was the second private theatre company in Bulgaria within the last 45 years. There his pursuit of creative freedom, unburdened by the petty topics of everyday life, lead to projects based on classical or foreign literary works, through which Peter created metaphorical and highly conditional theatre productions. Some were based on his own adaptations of texts, which had never been produced on stage before – “Notes from the Underground” after F.M. Dostoyevski’s novel of the same name (1994) – Golden Medal at the II International Theatre Festival (FITBA) – Barranquilla, Colombia, “Penniless” based on works by I.S. Turgenev and Alfred de Musset (1995), “Invitation to a Beheading“, based on the novel by Vladimir Nabokov (1997) – the Golden Dolphin Award at the Varna International Puppet Festival, “When the Roses Get Crazy“, based on works by Valeri Petrov (1998), “Teen-Shakespeare“, based on plays and sonnets by William Shakespeare (2000). Others reflected his interpretation of well-known plays and novels, providing the grounds for bold and spectacular theatrical experiments – “In the Foothills of Vitosha” by P.K. Yavorov (1991) – first visit of a Bulgarian theatre to Turkey in 60 years, “Twelfth Night” by William Shakespeare (1999). Among the latter was the Bulgarian premiere of David Mamet’s “Oleanna“, which Peter translated and staged in 2000.
Being true to the spirit of FTC to be closely related to the present, in all of his productions, regardless of genre, Peter used the historical or cultural distance of the plot as a magnifying glass for the exploration of contemporary themes. The lonely characters from his earlier works still inhabited his productions, but this time, feeling abandoned or out of place in a world they were not able to grasp, they had to reassess their stand on the issues binding them to their kin.
During the 1990-s Peter directed a total of 25 theatre productions. Special critical and public acclaim among his works in theatres other than FTC earned “Edmund” by David Mamet (1994), “Ivanov” by A.P. Chekhov (1996) – Pernik Drama Theatre, and “Hunt of a Small Codfish” by Rumen Shomov (1998) – Sofia Drama Theatre. In 1993 his production of “For Services Rendered” by W. Somerset Maugham (Pernik Drama Theatre) brought him an invitation by the British Council for a three week workshop on British literature and drama of the 20th century in London, Great Britain.
Through the years Peter has maintained close professional relationships with colleagues from abroad. He has been an active participant in workshops and discussions conducted during the international tours and festivals he has attended. Among them was the seminar “Facing Hatred” in Tel Aviv (1997), organized by Histadrut (the Israeli federation of labor), where he gave a lecture on the historic Saving of the Jews by the Bulgarian People during WWII.
Throughout his career Peter showed a special interest in working with and for kids. He has directed 6 plays for children, including the musical “Pinocchio” by Carlo Collodi, based on his own dramatization and lyrics (Pernik Drama Theater, 1992).
In 1996 Peter founded the Young Acting Academy at FTC, which he headed until 2001. Its goal was to stimulate the interest of children and teenagers in the art of theatre by educating and training them in a professional and entertaining manner. Gradually its annual productions became a festive and highly anticipated event in Sofia’s cultural life. In 2006 the Young Acting Academy proudly celebrated its 10th birthday.
Peter has an extensive career in teaching Acting and Directing. It started in 1989, when he was invited as an assistant in Acting at NATFA. Two years later, for the next 6 semesters he became a lecturer in Acting and Directing to the students of the Program for Screenwriting at the Film Department of the Academy. In 1994 he began lecturing at the Department of Art Management and the Department of Mass Communications at the New Bulgarian University in Sofia, where he worked until 2001. His classes at the University were “Acting for Non-actors“, “History and Theory of Drama Directing” and “Stage Management“. In 1996 he became an adjunct professor in Acting at Sofia’s Art College, a position he occupied until 2001.
Film and Television
Peter’s credits in television include several commercials, a documentary and a short film. He wrote the script for and co-directed “A Way through the Clouds” (1992), which follows the 80-year old history of the Bulgarian airforce. “The Paradoxalist” (1996) was his second screen-writing project. In it Peter also stars in the role of the protagonist. Both films were admitted in the Golden Fund of the Bulgarian National Television.
2000 and After
In 2001 Peter obtained an O1 visa (Extraordinary Ability in the Field of Art) by the US government and moved with his family to the United States. At present he is a US citizen.
Between 2001 and 2003 he directed and hosted the Bulgarian TV program in LA, “Chats“. Aired weekly, it combined original programming with shows from Bulgaria.
In 2003 he worked as an adviser during the filming of “The Terminal“. His responsibility was to consult Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks on the authenticity of the foreign (Eastern European) elements included in the movie.
The next couple of years Peter devoted to the study of the theories and techniques in Acting, established by some of the most prominent American drama practitioners: Strassberg, Meisner and Uta Hagen. He also spent time learning about the methods of teaching Acting in Los Angeles, auditing almost every major acting studio in the city.
In 2006 Peter revived his teaching career. While providing personal coaching he also conducts the classes “Act Your Way to Success” and “Create Memorable Performances as an Actor” in El Segundo, as well as “The Art of Acting in Theatre and Film” and “The Art of Acting in Real Life” in Los Angeles.
Most recently Peter directed “The Basement” by Darrell Fusaro at the Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks, California.