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At 95, playful Bulgarian actress still shines on stage

By Angel Krasimirov
SOFIA, Feb 17 (Reuters) At 95, Bulgarian actress Stoyanka Mutafova is considered the oldest actress in the world still regularly performing on stage. And she has not lost her sense of adolescent mischief.
The tireless "Queen of Bulgarian comedy" has performed many roles in a career spanning from 1945 - when she played a maidservant in Moliere’s Scapin the Schemer - to the present day, receiving numerous accolades.
Mutafova, who effortlessly recalls the words from her debut appearance on stage, inspired generations of Bulgarians to pursue careers in cinema and theatre.
"(Time has passed) so quickly," Mutafova told Reuters in the tiny dressing room of Sofia’s Tear and Laugh theatre minutes before going on the scene to play in "Mrs Natural Disaster".
Mutafova, who it is suggested became the oldest stage performer after Russian actor Vladimir Zeldin died in Moscow in October at the age of 102, said she never regretted her choice to become an actress.
"If was 20 again, I still would become an actress," said Mutafova, who shot to fame after appearing in a number of Bulgarian TV comedies and entertainment programmes in past decades.
Despite using a crutch to help herself to the stage, she is still cracking jokes and producing engaging performances four or five times a month, touching the hearts of adoring fans.
"Humour is in me but I still approach each role with fear and suspicion," she said. "(Thankfully), I’m keeping my gamine manner, I cannot breathe without it. I was born gamine and now I’m a gamine granny."
Soon after Zeldin’s death, Bulgarian officials submitted an application for Mutafova to be named in Guinness Book of Records. However, she remains indifferent.
"It doesn't flatter me because it is related to my age," Mutafova said with a typical creak in her voice. "Why I should be glad of such a thing?"
Her colleagues were full of praise.
"She is so real and the audience can sense that," said Bulgarian actress Iren Krivoshieva, Mutafova’s partner in "Mrs Natural Disaster". "The public just loves her."
REUTERS CJ AN1912
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