: Intercultural theatre
Jelena Luzina: Interculturalism: Trends, Exotica, Aesthetics, Poetics and… So Forth!
Iskra Nikolova: Interculturality and the Theatrical Text
Sinisa Jelusic: Theatre, Transculturalism and Archetype
Nada Petkovska: Multiculturalism in the Theatre: Between Aesthetics and Politics
Mileta Postic: The Possibilities for a Postmodern and Intercultural Reading of Theatre Practice in the Balkans
Sonja Zdravkovska Dzeparoska: Interculturalism in Dance
Ivan Medenica: A New Concept of the Sterijino Pozorje as a Project of Organic Interculturality
Dragana Colic Biljanovski: The Transformation of the Intercultural Theatre System: Institutional, Alternative, Private
Lidija Kapusevska Drakulevska: Intercultural Encounters: Otherness in Macedonian Drama
Simona Jeselnik: The Land of the Rising Sun Sinking into the Eternity of the Mediterranean Sea
Ana Stojanoska: Intracultural Theatrical Dispersion or On Recent Macedonian Theatrical Matters
Dragana Colic Biljanovski: The Transformation of the Intercultural Theatre System: Institutional, Alternative, Private
Soryn: One can’t do without theatre.
Treplyev: Yes, but we need new forms.
(Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, Seagull, Act I)
Until the beginning of 1990s, the theatre network of intercultural and multicultural cooperation in the region of former Yugoslavia was characterized by three forms of organization: a permanent professional theatre repertory system, theatre groups known as working communities (temporary or permanent) and informal theatrical troupes. Temporary or permanent working communities were established by groups of artists who invested their own funds and effort. It was the beginning of the transformation of the theatrical system from institutional to private - today, an expanding theatrical form in Europe. Thus, the process which, in the Balkan countries, began in 1945 was completed in the first decade of the 21st century.
Attempts at such organization began in Slovenia in 1954 with the foundation of the Eksperimentalno gledalisce (Experimental Theatre) at the Ljubljana Festival. Another group, ODER 57, was founded in Ljubljana in April 1957 following an initiative of the students of the Slavonic Department of the Faculty of Philosophy and the students of the Academy of Theatre, Film and Television. Also in 1957, the actress Draga Ahacic founded the AD HOC group.
The Student Experimental Theatre of the University of Zagreb founded in 1956 also contributed to the development of the concept of the alternative theatre in Yugoslavia.
Simultaneously with the beginnings of alternative theatrical life in Slovenia and Croatia, the Belgrade alternative scene was marked by the activities of the ‘A’ Theatrical Company, the ‘Ovako’ Club for the Synthesis of Art, and Radomir Stevic Ras’s Theatre of National Drama in 1961.
The 1970s saw the ‘golden age’ of the evolution of the alternative theatre along the axes Slovenia-Croatia-Bosnia and Herzegovina-Serbia-Montenegro-Macedonia which lasted until the dissolution of the country in the early 1990s. We would like to mention some of the companies, such as Eg Glej (1970), Kaj Theatre (1970, Slovenia and Croatia); Sveti Nikita Goltarot (1970), founded by Vladimir Milcin and Slobodan Unkovski in a monastery near Skopje as an experiment in the theatre of gesture and ritual theatre after the Grotowski method and life in the commune; Pralipe Theatre (1971), the Romany theatre in Macedonia; COCOLEMOCCO (1971) in Zagreb; Kugla glumiste (1971) in Zagreb; Tespisov voz (1979) organized by Tomaz Pandur as a secondary school student in Ljubjana, and Radna zajednica Karamazovi KPGT in Zagreb. In the 1980s, drama students in the class of Boro Stjepanovic and Emir Kusturica in Sarajevo founded the Obala Theatre. The mission of alternative theatre in Novi Sad in this period was represented by Pozoriste mladih and the Sonja Marinkovic Stage. In Montenegro, the alternative theatre could be recognized in the activities of the Dodest Theatre in Titograd, (now Podgorica).
Multicltural projects up to the 21st century: Belgrade as an example
After World War II, theatrical life in Belgrade was renewed at the National Theatre with the appearance of the actors from the Kazaliste narodnog oslobodenja (Theatre of National Liberation) led by Vjekoslav Afric.
In 1947, an exclusive theatre with the most talented Yugoslav actors was founded. Its director, Bojan Stupica, formed an ensemble of actors from Belgrade, Novi Sad and Ljubljana. The theatre opened on 3 April 1948.
In 1947, the Beogradsko dramsko pozoriste city theatre was founded in the Crveni krst quarter. Its repertory policy attracted attention with its relevant contemporary plays from European and American dramaturgy.
In the beginning of 1951, the Humoristicko pozoriste (Theatre of Comedy) at Terazije was born; its repertory included comedies, humorous shows, musicals and operettas. The same year was marked by the foundation of the Theatre of Film Actors on the initiative of Josip Kulundzic, Ljubomir Radicevic and Aleksandar Ognjanovic.
In 1956, Atelje 212 (Atelier 212) was founded, a chamber theatre with no permanent ensemble, whose purpose was to stage avant-garde plays. It attracted a group of people of the theatre led by Mira Trailovic. It was the first theatrical model to give young artists freedom of creation.
Beogradsko dramsko pozoriste and Beogradska komedija (Belgrade Theatre of Comedy - Gradsko and Humoristicno pozoriste) fused in 1959 into the Savremeno pozoriste which had two stages, one at Crveni krst and one at Terazije. Its repertory was characterized by drama and musicals.
The pre-war children’s theatre Rodino pozoriste changed its name into Pionirsko pozoriste and then to Bosko Buha Theatre; it re-opened in 1951.
In 1964/64, the building of Atelje 212 was finished. The theatre moved to a permanent building and abandoned the model of stage projects.
Towards the end of the 1950s, the actors increasingly began to leave their home theatres, acquiring the status of free-lance artists. They formed troupes of an extra-institutional type; among the first was the ‘A’ Company founded in 1961 on the initiative of Rade Markovic, together with Olivera Markovic, Mica Tomic Voja Miric and others. It was the result of dissatisfaction with theatrical institutions and especially with Begradsko dramsko pozoriste. They staged the following plays: Devojka sa naslovne strane by Purisa Dordevic, Opasne vode by Slobodan Stojanovic and Premijera by Miodrag Durdevic. They staged their plays at the Faculty of Philosophy, the Drama Academy and the Student Centre in Zagreb.
The Ovako Club for the Synthesis of Art, Pozorisno igraliste Univerziteta (the Theatre Playground of the University) and Teatar nacionalne drame (National Drama Theatre) are all linked with the name of Radomir Stevic Ras, painter and graphic artist. The idea for the establishment of these companies came from him and Eva Ras. In the 1960s, he managed to gather a number of actors including Petar Kralj, Dusan Golumbovski, Dragica Novakovic, Slobodan Duric, Ivan Bekjarev, Miodrag Andric-Moljac and Dejan Konstantinovic.
In the beginning, they organized literary evenings and, later, theatre performances. Most of the projects of the Ras Legacy and the National Drama Theatre were not presented in a traditional manner. They included poets, singers of old city songs, opera singers, actors from other republics, quartets, satirists, journalists and other public figures. This was a political theatre since it criticized the Communist system and used the minutes of Cabinet meetings in a documentary manner. During 1968, Belgrade Summer Theatre was founded; its performances were held in the yard of Kapetan Misino zdanje. In 1970, Ras participated in this event with an ensemble of actors from all over Yugoslavia; his intention was to establish the Actors’ Federation of the Belgrade Summer Theatre.
The following plays were in the repertory of Ras’s theatre: Carapa od sto petlji by Aleksandar Popovic, Brobdingard by Predrag Perisic, Vrt by Milos Radivojevic, Akvarijum and Tesna vrata by Slobodan Stojanovic, Milobruke by J.S. Popovic, Prepelica u fenjeru by Branislav Nusic, Smeh, samo smeh by Milivoj Majstorovic, Psovanje publike by Peter Handke, Da li je moguce drugovi da smo mi volovi by Jovan Keser, Krase dok imase, kad nemase prestase by Milenko Vucetic, Zaduzen sam ispred frakcije da ti iskrivim vilicu by Jovan Keser, etc. They were directed by Nebojsa Komadina, Jovan Ristic, Vida Ognjenovic, Radomir Saranovic, Petar M. Teslic, Blagota Erakovic, Slavenko Saletovic, etc.
Atelje 212 opened an alternative, chamber stage in 1967. In 1969 it was transformed into Teatar u podrumu (The Theatre in the Cellar). In the same year, Narodno pozoriste opened its stage in Zemun and at Jugoslovensko dramsko pozoriste (Yugoslav Drama Theatre) where Bojan Stupica also designed the chamber stage. After his death, this stage became Teatar Bojan Stupica (Bojan Stupica Theatre). Jugoslovensko dramsko pozoriste (JDP) opened its Salon for smaller stage forms, and the Krug 101 stage was opened in the building of the Narodno pozoriste.
The dynamic life of Belgrade theatres at the end of the 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s was also influenced by the establishment of the BITEF Festival in Belgrade; it was headed by the ever-vigilant Mira Trailovic and was under the auspices of Atelje 212. It brought global theatrical trends to Belgrade.
In the mid-1970s theatrical practice was enriched with several new stages, while other spaces were also conquered.
The Pinokio Puppet Theatre was founded in 1976 in Zemun, the Poetic Theatre opened at the Duro Salaj Workers’ University, and the Branislav Nusic Summer Stage was opened in Skadarlija, in Zetska Street.
Project ad hoc troupes were also organized in this period. The Pozorisne besede troupe was organized by the actor Ljuba Tadic, the producer Zoran Popovic and the publicist Sveta Lukic; they were later joined by Snezana Niksic, Vida Ognjenovic and others. It was founded in 1975 and opened with a performance of Memoari Prote Mateje Nenadovica, adapted and directed by Branivoj Dordevic.
Students of the Faculty of Drama and those who had recently graduated from it founded Pozoriste dvoriste (Theatre Yard) in 1976. It premiered with A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare, directed by Petar Zec and Mirjana Ojdanic. The actors included Gordana Kosanovic, Gordana Pavlov, Lazar Ristovski, Branislav Lecic, Aleksandra Nikolic, Danica Maksimovic, Milorad Jekic, Jadranka Selec, Dragoljub Denda, Radmila Plecas, Neda Arneric, Ivica Klemenc and others. This informal theatre also had certain features of street theatre since they performed in streets and squares, thus removing the traditional ‘fourth wall’. Their repertory included plays by William Shakespeare, Jean Baptiste Moliere, Albert Camus, Ferdinand Arabal, Mihail Bulgakov, Peter Weiss, Jean Genet, Skender Kulenovic, Mirjana Ojdanic, Ciril Kosmac, Vasko Popa and others.
The Udruzenje filmskih glumaca Srbije theatre group (Association of Serbian Film Actors) opened in 1976 with a performance of Kir Janja by Jovan Sterija Popovic, directed by Dejan Mijac. It operated as touring theatre and its core included former members of the ‘A’ troupe, Rade Markovic, Mica Tomic and Voja Miric. The group also included Neda Arneric, Milan Ajvaz, Milena Dravic, Branislav Lecic and the producer Dragan Andelkovic.
The work of the group “Prva radna zajednica udruzenog pozorisnog rada” (The First Working Community of Associated Labour in Theatre) named “Pod razno” began in 1977, with the signing of an agreement for association of labour by Nikola Jevtic and Srboljub Bozinovic, directors, and actors Predrag Ejdus, Vladimir Jevtovic, Josif Tatic and Milan Erak. They were joined by the actors Cedomir Petrovic, Stanislava Pesic and Olga Spiridonovic; Branko Komadina, stage designer, Jasmina Jesic, costume designer, Borivoje Pavicevic, composer and Miroslav Marinkovic, playwright. Their producer was Danka Mandzuka. The theatre opened on 24 January 1977 with a performance of Prava stvar by Miroslav Marinkovic, directed by Nikola Jevtic.
Otvoreno pozoriste (Open Theatre) was formed at the Student City Culture Hall in 1977. During 1977/78, Akt grupa (Act Troupe) staged The Proposal and The Wedding by Chekhov and Goodbye, Juda by Irineus Iredinsky, both directed by Egon Savin.
The actor Branko Milicevic and the director Slobodanka Aleksic founded the Puz (Snail) children’s theatre in 1977.
Alternative troupes continued to be established during the 1980s. In the spring and summer of 1980, Nova osecajnost (New Sensibility) was founded; its plays were staged in the former Brewery in Skadarska Street. Its members had a ‘different’ concept of the then existing theatres, which they formulated in their Manifesto: “If we don’t say what we have to say now, we move further away from the opportunity of ever saying all we know.”
The agreement for the establishment of this temporary theatrical working community was signed in 1980 by Aleksandar Bercek, Tatjana Boskovic, Milan Gutovic, Geroslav Zaric, Suzana Jovanovic, Dragan Klaic, Suada Kapic, Marina Koljubajeva, Branislav Lecic, Predrag Manojlovic,Vladica Milosavljevic, Dragan Maksimovic, Borka Pavicevic, Egon Savin and Sonja Savic. The play Tragedy, based on William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, adapted by Borka Pavicevic and directed by Egon Savin, was produced in cooperation with TV Belgrade and was shown twice, on 30 and 31 June 1981. The premiere of Samuel Beckett’s Not I, directed by Egon Savin and performed by Sonja Savic followed next. The troupe was active for five years as a trial ground for multimedia events, and thus contributed to the further development of the theatre in Belgrade. The artists who were brought up on the principles of New Romanticism continued their work individually, transferring the emotions and ideas of New Sensibility through KPGT, PPP, the Centre for Cultural Decontamination and the Centre for New Theatre and Acting in the first decade of the 21st century. According to New Romanticism, “it was important to recognize the place, the time and the age in which we are living.”
In 1981/82, the authors’ workshop “Raskorak” (Out of Step) staged Anantomija duplog dna by Danilo Kis for the first time. The workshop was headed by the directors Primoz Bebler and Goran Cvetkovic.
The Golubnjaca working community worked was active in 1982 at the Student Cultural Centre in Belgrade, where they staged Golubnjaca directed by Dejan Mijac, a play by Jovan Radulovic that had been banned at the Serbian National Theatre
An important theatrical event was the opening on 8 October 1984 of the Zvezdara Theatre with a production of Mrescenje sarana by Aleksandar Popovic, directed by Dejan Mijac. The concept of the Zvezdara Theatre included providing an answer as to what kind of modern theatre was required.
The 1980s were marked by the activities of the KPGT Theatre (an acronym of the initial letters for the word “theatre” in Serbian, Croat, Slovenian and Macedonian) and the production of Dusan Jovanovic’s Oslobodenje Skoplja directed by Ljubisa Ristic in Zagreb in June 1978. Ristic’s idea was a free theatre without state funding. The KPGT worked within Yugoslavia as a single area as a theatrical, social and political movement which accepted difference as a principle of creative work and life.
In 1983, together with the New Sensibility the KPGT produced Tajna Crne ruke, directed by Purisa Dordevic and Ljubisa Ristic, at the Sava Centre in Belgrade. In 1984, again in collaboration with the Sava Centre, the KPGT produced Carl Orf’s Carmina Burana with the particiption of the Branko Krsmanovic Choir. In the summer of 1984, together with “Nova osecajnost”, “Knjiga reci” and “Art film,” they organized GODOFEST. By September 1984, their productions included some 200 performances. At GODOFEST, the KPGT had three projects: Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, directed by Ljubisa Ristic, Godo, a choreodrama directed by Nada Kokotovic, and Deriste by Dubravka Knezevic, directed by Ljubisa Ristic.
The Magaza Theatre (Storehouse Theatre) was founded in 1984 in Knez Mihajlova Street; its founder was Ljuba Tadic, the bard of Serbian theatre.
The Dusko Radovic Theatre gave special evening performances of its satirical plays in 1986.
In the summer of 1986 and 1987, the outdoor theatre known as the Gardos Stage opened in Zemun. In 1992 it cooperated with the Grad-teatar (Theatre City) from Budva.
The Bosko Buha Children’s and Youth Theatre opened the stage known as “Kod konja” in 1988. Its most interesting project was Klasni neprijatelj, adapted and directed by Aleksandar Lukac.
The BITEF Theatre was opened on 3 March 1989 as the result of the long-standing efforts of Mira Trailovic and Jovan Cirilov in the implementation of European theatrical trends. Its purpose was to become a multimedia workshop and a place where international and domestic artists would meet.
In October 1991, on the initiative of the directors Dijana Milosevic and Jadranka Andelic and the actor Slobodan Bestic, the Dah teatar (Breath Theatre) was opened, which followed the principles of Holstebro (Denmark) and the theatrical workshops of Eugenio Barba’s Odin Theatre. Through workshops and projects it intended to meet the needs of young audiences.
Motivated by their desire to create a theatre which would provide a space for the actors’ individual and independent initiatives, the actors Rade Serbedzija and Ljuba Tadic and the director Lenka Udovicki founded the Pozoriste za pozorisne poslove – PPP (Theatre for Theatrical Matters) in January 1992. Their intention was to transform it into a theatrical workshop. Like the KPGT, it was characterized by the idea of the Yugoslav concept of an open cultural space. The theatre closed when this concept expired with the ensuing political events and wars. Their only production was Mother Courage and Her Children at the Youth Hall in Belgrade in January 1992.
By the end of the 1990s, other theatrical companies had also been established. These were the result of the private initiative of playwrights such as Bratislav Petkovic’s Moderna garaza (Modern Garage) and Dragan Savic’s Teatar an Savi (Theatre on the Sava). It was also in this period that the first private opera house, The Madlenianum, was founded.
The theatres of movement and non-verbal expression, such as Ister Teatar and Mimart, were also significant. This decade was also marked by the renewal of Dadov, the Centre for Cultural decontamination – CKD, and the Centre for New Theatre and Acting - CENPI. Companies performing new theatrical forms which worked on projects such as Kult Teatar, Torpedo, Plavo pozoriste, Kuguar, Skloniste and others were also founded. It was also a time of numerous individual projects by actors and directors carried out within the country and abroad under the auspices of the Association of Serbian Actors.
Intercultural models belong to the new generation that is exploring forms of theatrical expression in the light of the 21st century on the stages of the Mata Milosevic Theatre and the Faculty of Dramatic Arts in Belgrade. This is evident from the fact that the student production team of the Department of Theatre, Radio and Culture Management and Production organized, as part of one its study projects FIST 01, the Festival of International Student Theatre at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts. This three-day international multimedia theatre festival was held between 11th and 13th March 2005. Their concept included the exploration and presenation of various methods of educating young actors through the participation of theatre academies from a large number of European countries. Their objective was active education through international communication established in the creative practice of workshops and discussions.
The FIST Festival used the film studio, the plateau in front of the Faculty of Dramatic Arts and the foyer of the Mata Milosevic Theatre at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts and its stage. Thus, the Faculty of Dramatic Arts has become a small intercultural theatre city. The Festival consists of three parts, the main programme, the accompanying events and the fringe programme. Productions by various state theatre academies and schools of acting were performed (Erlangen, Germany; Warsaw, Poland; Manchester, England; Bratislava, Slovakia; Budapest, Hungary; Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro). The members of the jury were Ana Vuckovic, student of dramaturgy at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts in Belgrade, Boris Lijesevic, former student of directing at the Academy of Arts in Novi Sad, Edin Jasarevic, student of production at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts in Cetinje, Ana Maras, student of acting at the Academy of Dramatic Art in Zagreb and Sasa Tabakovic, a student who graduated from the Department of Acting at the Academy of Theatre, Radio, Film and Television in Ljubljana.
Students from the drama and film departments of the Faculty of Dramatic Arts in Belgrade and the Academy of Arts in Novi Sad presented their works. The following workshops were organized: Acting (prof. Teresa Brawshaw, Machester), The Puppet – the Faceless Actor and the Work of Art (prof. Beata Pejcz, Ludwik Solski, Poland), Skin of Our Teeth by Thornton Wilder (Peter Forgacs, director, Hungary), Modern German Theatre (prof. Andre Studt, Germany), The Space of Theatrical Performance (Dusan Petrovic, director, and Radivoje Dinulovic architect and stage designer, Serbia and Montenegro).
The team of the FIST 01 Festival and the Theatre Studio of the Mata Milosevic Stage of the Faculty of Dramatic Arts consisted of Jovana Popovic, Marko Radenkovic, Nenad Mersnik, Jelena Stojanovic, Sandra Solaja, Dina Vukovic, Milena Lazovic, Iva Mladenovic, Aleksandra Bajovic, Bojana Karajovic, Jovana Krstic, Marko Grubac, Darja Bajic, Dragana Jovanovic, Zina Al Sattaf, Marko Jovanov, Mina Sohaj, Nikola Grujic, Andreja Korsic, Ana Stevanovic, Nada Novakovic, Ivan Pekas, Jelena Gavric, Nevena Paunovic, Srdan Novakovic and Rasa Samoilov, students of Management and Production in the Theatre, Radio and Culture. It also included students from other departments such as the departments of Film and Television Production, Film and Television Editing, Dramaturgy, Film and Television Camera, Film and Television Directing, Camera Operating and Sound Editing, Acting, Theatre and Radio Directing, as well as students from the Braca Karic Academy and the Faculties of Applied Arts, Visual Arts, Architecture, Philology and Fine Arts in Belgrade. The students Jovana Krstic, Nevena Paunovic and Tijana Cerovic initiated a final project in Theatre Production at the Department of Management and Production in Theatre, Radio and Culture. This idea concerned a regional co-production of the play Kad bi ovo bila predstava... by Almir Imsirevic (Academy of Stage Arts from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina), with the participation of actors from the former Yugoslavia for the purpose of gathering young actors together and the renewal of cultural links in the region.
The SLAVIJA 2002-2005 International Theatre Festival
The foundation of the Slavija private theatre in 1998 is a true phenomenon in terms of production, interculturalism and multiculturalism. Its concept is closely related to that of alternative and multimedia theatre. In 2002, it initiated the establishment of the first private international theatre festival. Its symbol, shown on its promotional poster, was Don Quixote.
The first festival was not a competition, but rather a review. The organizers invited theatres whose work was based on a similar concept, i.e., private and chamber theatres, chamber stages, informal companies, project performances and individuals.
The 1st International Theatre Festival Slavija 2002 was declared open by Mira Stupica, the “greatest among the greatest”. During the festival, eighteen performances were shown in eight days.
The first day of the festival, 9th March 2002, saw a performance by Josip Pejakovic, director of Drama of the National Theatre in Sarajevo. In his performance of Co’jek na cetiri noge the audience could see Pejakovic as a complete author.
The Montenegrin theatre performed Jakov grli trnje by Veljko Radovic, produced by Barski ljetopis. Blagota Erakovic’s cast included important names such as Mihail Mise Janketic, Dragica Tomas, Slobodan Marunovic, Svjetlana Knezevic, Mirko Vlahovic and Dragisa Simovic.
The participation of SARTR (Sarajevski ratni teatar/Sarajevo War Theatre), led by Safet Plakalo, aroused great interest. The first and greatest surprise was the performance of Oh, Carmella by Jose Sanchez Sinastra. It was directed by Robert Raponja and the cast included Selma Alispahic and Dragan Jovicic.
Their second performance was Eugene Ionesco’s Chairs, directed by Gradimir Gojer. The poetic art of the cast, which included Kaca Doric, Zoran Becic and Raid Ljutovic, was especially impressive.
An evening with Rade Serbedzija as a special guest (‘a Yugo-nostalgic or the Hollywood Showman’) was also organized. The press wrote that his participation and the presence of Zijah Sokolovic turned the festival into an international event.
Atelje 212 produced and staged Poslednja traka, an exclusive theatrical event and one of the most memorable performances of all times. It was an adaptation of Samuel Beckett’s Crapp’s Last Tape, directed and performed by Ljuba Tadic, one of the greatest Serbian actors.
The next event was Ljubomir Simovic’s Hasanaginica, a production by the National Theatre from Belgrade directed by Jagos Markovic. The cast included Ksenija Jovanovic, Radmila Zivkovic, Branislav Ciga Jerinic and young actors at the beginning of their careers - Marinko Mazgalj, Vanja Ejdus and Nenad Stojmenovic.
The National Theatre from Bitola performed a cabaret-style play dedicated to Edith Piaf; it was directed by Natasa Poplavska and the main role was played by Elena Mose.
The monodrama Ceracemo se jos by Matija Beckovic and interpreted by Petar Bozovic was only a part of his performance since it was followed by excerpts from his rich creative output, with a special appearance by Petar Kralj.
The National Theatre from Banja Luka performed Nikolai Kolyada’s The Hen, directed by Petar Strbac. The cast included Natasa Ivancevic, Gordana Milinovic, Miljko Brdanin, Dorde Markovic, Aleksandar Stojkovic, Ljubisa Savanovic, Radmila Smiljanic, Zeljko Stjepanovic, Danilo Poprazen and Pero Ris.
For his cabaret performance Putuj Evropo the actor Goran Sultanovic gathered colleagues of a similar sensibility, Nenad Ciric, Nebojsa Ljubisic and Aleksandar Sreckovic.
The Slavija Theatre chose for the Festival its hit play on Serbian everyday life, Damin gambit by Dusan Cvetic, directed by Jovica Pavic. The cast included Vuk Kostic, Dragan Petrovic, Nebojsa Ljubisic, Bojana Maljevic, Mihailo Janketic, Miodrag Radovanovic Mrgud and Vlasta Velisavljevic.
16 March 2002 was the closing night and a night of cheering, ovations and tears. Zijah Sokolovic, Professor of Acting at the Bruckner Conservatory in Vienna, came to Belgrade after ten years as the author and performer of the monodrama CABAres CABArei. Since then, the play has been on the regular repertory of the Slavija Theatre.
The festival was closed by the actress Danica Maksimovic on behalf of the Actors’ Association of Serbia.
In Januaru 2003, the Slavia Theatre organized a two-day symposium Theatre and Festivals: Performance and Assesment with the participation of theatre critics, theatrologists, former and current art directors of theatre festivals, and playwrights and directors from Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Croatia. They discussed issues concerning Sterijini pozorje, BITEF, Grad-teatar Budva, Ohridsko leto, Days of Comedy, the Festival of Classical Drama in Vrsac, the INFANT Festival of Alternative Drama, the Festival of Drama for Children, the Barski ljetopis Puppet Theatre, the Joakim Vujic Festival and the Dubrovnik Summer Theatre Festival. It was concluded that the authorities should not influence the existence and physiognomy of the festivals. They should only be changed through theatrical circumstances and innovations in the theatre.
The 2nd Slavija 2003 International Festival was held between 9 and 15 March 2003. The jury consisted of Mira Banjac, Zelimir Oreskovic and Milica Novkovic. The award for the best play was a statuette of Don Quixote, the work of the sculptor Nikola Kolja Milunovic.
An exhibition of sketches and drawings by the costume designer Mira Cohadzic was organized in the foyer of the theatre, with the actress Branka Petric as presenter.
Ronald Harwood’s Quartet, directed by Relja Basic, actor and artistic director of Teatar u gostima (Visiting Theatre) was performed by those great actors of the theatre of former Yugoslavia, Pero Kvrgic, Vanja Drah and Sanda M. Langerholz.
Zijah Sokolovic performed his version of A.P. Chekhov’s monodrama The Bear as “ a joke for a jazz quartet and an actor” which was produced by the Ljubjana European Month of Culture.
The Pralipe Romany Theatre from Skopje was founded by Rahim Burhan in 1979. Between 1991 and 2002 it worked in Munich, and since 2000 it has been active as the European Pralipe Romany Theatre. They performed the play Kalea by Dragica Potocnjak, directed by Rahim Burhan.
Janez Pipan initiated the participation of the Slovensko narodno gledalisce (Slovenian National Theatre) from Ljubljana, which performed Caryl Churchill’s Far Away. It was directed by Meta Hocevar, who was also its stage designer; the cast included Milena Zupancic, Natasa Barbara Grancer, Marko Mandic and Peter Stenicnik.
During the Festival an artistic portrait of Radko Polic was presented; his guests were Olivera Markovic, Milena Zupancic, Tanja Boskovic, Bora Todorovic, Dragan Nikolic, Branko Cvejic, Zoran Simjanovica and Branko Baletic.
A state of emergency was declared on 12 March 2003 because of the tragic death of the Prime Minister Zoran Dindic and the festival finished on 16 March. On the last day, the following plays were shown: Presuda by the Niksic Theatre, Nakaze by the Serbian National Theatre and Parite se otepuvacka by the National Theatre from Bitola..
The director Goran Bulajic based his play Presuda, by the Niksic Theatre, on Jean Genet’s Strict Surveillance. The cast included young actors from the Faculty of Dramatic Arts in Cetinje and one experienced actor from the Cetinje Theatre. These were Nikola Boskovic, Nikola Perisic and Sreten Mitrovic.
The Serbian National Theatre performed Bogdan Spanjevic’s Nakaze, directed by Nemanja Petronja. The cast included Ljubisa Barovic, Ivana Pejcic, Milan Kovacevic, Jovana Stipic and Nenad Vujanovic.
One of Risto Krle’s most famous plays is Parite se otepuvacka. It is based on a true story from the period between the two world wars. It was directed by Ljupco Georgijevski and the cast included Dordi Jolevski, Gabriela Petrusevska, Ivan Jercic and Julijana Mircevska. This play closed the Slavija 2003 Festival, and the members of the jury, Mira Banjac, actress, Zelimir Oreskovic, director, and Milica Novkovic, playwright, awarded the first prize for best play to Risto Krle’s Parite se otepuvacka by the National Theatre in Bitola. The performance was awarded the Don Quixote statuette “for its Quixotic search for a new and exciting theatrical language.” The Macedonian Minister of Culture, Blagoja Stefanovski, was present at the ceremony.
The 3rd Slavija 2004 International Theatre Festival was held between 9 and 16 March 2004. It was opened by Batric Zarkovic, director of the Slavija Theatre who said: “the visit by the National Theatre from Tirana is a very significant event because it is the very first time since 1945 that a theatre from Albania has visited Serbia.”
The members of the jury were Zelimir Oreskovic, Veljko Radovic and Filip David. In addition to the statuette of Don Quixote, the Premijera Plus award for best actor and actress was also introduced. It had been expected that the Festival wouldbe opened by Rade Markovic. However, this the doyen of theatre and film had a role in the preview performance of Branislava Nusic’s Gospoda ministarka at the Belgrade National Theatre and the festival was opened by Radko Polic. Announcing the first performance and the first evening of acting, he said, “Great things happen at small-scale festivals like this: the stars of our souls and our thoughts touch and something happens…clusters of small stars and comets.”
The next event was the performance by the Skopje Drama Theatre of Marisol, a play by Jose Rivera, directed by Vladimir Milcin.The cast included Gordana Endrovska, Irena Ristic, Maja Veljkovic, Dejan Lilic, Vanco Petrusevski, Biljana Dragicevic, Kalina Naumovska and Vladimir Endrovski. The director Milcin said: “I dream about a private theatre and am looking for a space in Skopje where I can work independently. This would not be a commercial theatre. The richness of theatre lies in differences”. During the second part of the evening, a Portrait of Meto Jovanovski, the doyen of Macedonian and Yugoslav acting, was presented. Sequences from the films Before the Rain, Strsljen and Necista krv, as well as excerpts from the plays Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Crime and Punishment, Pisanije and Malogradani which he performed with Tanja Boskovic, Jelena Dokica and Voja Brajovic confirmed Radko Polic’s words from the opening of this event: ‘Had he lived in Berlin, Paris or Milan, he would have been an exceptional phenomenon; here, he is simply Meto Jovanovski”.
The Credo Theatre from Sofia performed Gogol’s The Overcoat. It is also a private theatre, founded in 1992 by the Bulgarian actors Nina Dimitrova and Vasil Vasilev Zuek.
The third evening of the festival gave the audience an opportunity to see Mirush Kabashi, the greatest actor of the Albanian National Theatre, exclusively and for the first time. Dubbed “the Albanian Ljuba Tadic”, he acted in Socrates’ Apology, a play based on the text by the Greek author Costas Varnalis. Kabashi adapted and directed the play, and the cast also included Inis Dyoni and Alfred Bualoti. In 2003, Mirush Kabashi and Ljuba Tadic both showed their artistic skill and talent at the theatre festival in Otesevo, a town on Lake Prespa in Macedonia. The performance could be followed in simultaneous translation. Svetlana Bojkovic’s reading of a selection of poetry and performance of soliloquies from her repertory was the event organized during the second part of the evening.
The play Kraljice was one of the two productions which came from Sarajevo and the SARTR Theatre. Three exceptional actresses, Ana Vilenica, Maja Salkic and Sabina Bambur performed in this play based on the text by Darko Lukic and directed by Kaca Doric. The lyrics were by Safet Plakalo and the composer was Davor Roko.
Milenko Zablacanski performed Zamisli zivot, a play from the repertory of Pozoriste na Terazijama.
Feniks je sagoreo uzalud was the second play from the repertory of the Sarajevo War Theatre shown at the festival. Safet Plakalo’s text was directed by Dubravko Bibanovic, stage movement was designed by Ferid Karajica and the cast included Edhem Husic, Tatjana Sojic, Ines Fancic, Zoran Becic, Lana Baric, Raid Ljutovic, Halima Music, Nikolina Vujic and Lamis Kulenovic. The dance trio of Kostana Dzinic, Adrijana Gligorijevic and Nedzad Peljto also participated in the performance.
Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi also attracted a large audience. A production by Kraljevsko pozoriste Zetski dom (Zetski Dom King’s Theatre) from Cetinje, it was directed by Slobodan Milatovic. Papa Ubu was played by the popular actor Petar Bozovic, and Mama Ubu by Varja Dukic. The cast also included Ivana Tomacic, Nada Vukcevic, Gorana Markovic, Ana Vujosevic, Tihana Culafic and Dafina Dimitrijevic.
During the second part of the evening, the audience watched Pisma s fronta, an international co-production directed by Marjan Bevk, with the participation of actors from three European countries including Alida Bevk, Gorazd Jakomini, Branko Licen, Peter Vida and Guilio Martini. It was conceived as a cultural caravan which speaks of events from World War I through soldiers’ diaries and letters from the front. Actors from the theatres in Nova Gorica, Rijeka, Solnok and the Ljubljana Ex ponto Festival spoke in four languages.
The play Muskarci ne idu u rat zbog zena (Men Do Not Go to War Over Women) was adapted from Andrew Risik’s Troy. It was adapted by Gina Lendor, who also played the main role, and was directed by Sladana Vujovic. It was a production by the London ACT TC Theatre and the members of the cast came from the US, England, Scotland, Montenegro, Serbia and Bosnia. Gina Lendor, a British actress who graduated from Oxford, perceived this play as a classical tragedy.
The actress Mira Banjac was presented on the same evening as one of the Portrait events. On this occasion, she performed her one-hour project Zena kao sudbina, with which she reminded the audience of the anthologized roles from her long and rich career.
The performance of Dusan Kovacevic’s Balkanski spijun by the Kerempuh Satirical Theatre from Zagreb also attracted large audiences. This was in part due to the fact that, as the theatre’s director Dusko Ljustina pointed out, this was the first official visit of a Croatian state theatre to Belgrade in the year in which the theatre marked its 40th anniversary. The play was adapted and directed by the famous actor Mustafa Nadarevic. It is interesting to note that the role of the spy was played an actress, Elizabeta Kukic, while the role of the obedient henpecked husband was played by Edo Vujic. The daughter was performed by Anita Matic, her brother Duro by Mustafa Nadarevic and the tenant by Dusko Grubovic. Because of great interest, Balkanski spijun was shown twice. During the second performance, the guests from Zagreb were even more delighted because of the presence of the playwright himself.
The 3rd Slavija 2004 International Festival closed officially on 16 March, when the members of the jury - Zelimir Oreskovic, Filip David and Veljko Radovic - decided to award the prize for best play to Gogol’s The Overcoat, performed by the Credo Theatre from Sofia, adapted and directed by the artistic partners and partners in marriage Nina Dimitrova and Vasil Vasilev Zuek.
This festival will be remembered for the great interest shown by the audience which gave the greatest applause to Edo Vujic, an actor for Zagreb, for his role as Lojze Safranek in Balkanski spijun. The jury of the periodical Premijera plus shared the opinion: “Edo Vujic, the henpecked husband who does the washing, the ironing and the dishes, who hoovers and cooks, is unsurpassable in everything he does.” The award for best actress went to Nina Dimitrova from Bulgaria for her role in The Overcoat.
In his concluding remarks on the Slavija 2004 Festival Zelimir Oreskovic, member of the jury and director who has directed plays in both Serbian and Croat theatres, said: “All the performances were interesting… The most impressive thing was the full house for all the plays… The modern theatre is returning to the working principles of Moliere’s theatre! The proprietor is responsible for everything.”
In his column, the indispensable Jovan Cirilov stated the following: “If we base our assessment of the situation on the output of actors and theatre people, we can conclude that we have been living in a Europe without borders for a long time… If we base our assessment on the output of the 3rd Slavija 2004 International Festival, we can conclude there are no more borders between the countries and peoples of the Balkans… In their life, actors are concerned with the eternal and everlasting aspects of life. They have what things to say to one another.”
The 4th Slavija 2005 International Festival was held between 9 and 16 March 2005. It was opened by Olivera Markovic, a living legend among actors. Bulgarian theatre was present with the play Za idiote koji bodu oci 2, a production by the ELA Theatre from Sofia. The text, based on Hashek, Allen and Yerofeyev, was directed by Elena Naceva Lafazanova, who was also the author of the script and who acted in it together with Krstya Lafazanov. The National Theatre of Montenegro from Podgorica represented Serbia and Montenegro with The Beauty Queen by Martin McDonagh, a play concerned with the relation between a tyrant mother and her daughter, the victim of the mother’s egoism. It was adapted and directed by Ana Vukotic, while the cast included Ana Vujosevic, Dragica Tomas, Dejan Ivanic and Zoran Vujovic.
The 4th Slavija 2005 International Festival is also significant because of the participation of the Givatayim Theatre from Israel. Their play Inaudible People is a parody of the perception that the foreigners have of the Israelis. It was written and directed by Ronnie Feldman, and the roles of the foreigners were played by Albert Cohen and Pollly Reshef.
The performance of the rock opera Pastir vukova by Gabor Lendel, Kornelije Kovac and Milan Rus was a brave enterprise. It is a musical inspired by the life of St. Sava directed by Milan Rus and peformed by the Serbian Theatre from Budapest. The cast included Zorica Jurkovic, Milan Rus, Tibor Ember, Ratko Kraljevic and others.
The EXIT Theatre from Zagreb represented Croatia with their performance of Steven Berkoff’s Decadence. It was directed by Matko Raguza, and the actors were Natasa Lusetic and Vili Matula. It was characterized by supreme technique and the actors’ masterful use of the physical and spiritual space by he actors.
The Sarajevo SARTR Theatre has traditionally participated in the festival, representing Bosnia and Herzegovina. The director Gradimir Sojer saw Ibrahim Kajan’s Katarina Kosaca “through the dream of thousands of patriots in this country, the dream that Bosnjaks, Croats, Serbs, Jews… have had to the present day.”
The SUZIRIA Theatre from Kiev performed its adaptation of Bulat Okudjawa’s The Drum Street. His music and lyrics were shaped for the stage by the play’s director and stage designer Igor Slavinski, together with Irina Melnik, Sergey Melnika and Ekaterina Tizhanova.
The last evening of the festival saw the performance of Goran Stefanovski’s Everyman by the Skopje Drama Theatre from Macedonia. The playright Goran Stefanovski has said the following about this text: “I read the mediaeval didactic drama Everyman as a student. As I was writing my play, the story somehow turned around and became a story without a moral.” The director Dejan Damjanovski built the production on the metaphor of ‘mirrors’. The cast included Irena Ristic, Milica Stojanova, Branko Gorcev, Iva Zendelska, Biljana Belicanac-Aleksic, Dejan Lilic, Vasil Zafircev and Zoran Ljutkov.
Special events dedicated to the actors Mihajlo Janketic, Dragica Tomas, Petar Banicevic and Ivan Bekjarev were also organized, and the members of the jury, Veljko Radovic, Tanja Mandic-Rigonat and Marijan Bevk awarded the Don Quixote statuette for best play to the National Theatre of Montenegro from Podgorica.
After many difficult years, the Slavija Theatre has established theatrical ties with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia and Macedonia and initiated collaboration with the National Theatre from Albania and private theatres from Bulgaria, Hungary, England, Israel and Ukraine.
The Slavija Theatre has become a site for the interplay of multicultural creative ideas. Through the foundation of a private international theatre festival certain dreams have come true which prove that, as a rule, the impossible is always possible in theatre, no matter what the theatre is called.
Extra-institutional multicultural theatre movements and festivals with private and state-funded theatres and faculties of drama pointed out the problems of the second half of the 20th century, such as the issue of repertory policy, the promotion of young actors and students at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts and private faculties, and problems of the commercialization of ad hoc projects (the world of entertainment, managers.) Alternative theatrical forms promote young playwrights, actors, directors stage designers, costume designers, composers, etc. They also initiate and give relevance to intercultural projects and draw attention to the legal regulation of relations in the sphere of theatre production and management in the Balkan region.
Colic Biljanovski, Dragana (1995) Scena Doma omladine Beograda 1964-1994. Belgrade: Dom omladine.
Cirilov, Jovan (2004) “Glumci bez granica”. Blic (Belgrade) 31 March.
Dragicevic Sesic, Milena (1992) Umetnost i alternativa. Belgrade: Institut FDU.
Horvat, Boris (1987) Alternativni teatar danas. Novi Sad: Scena, no.3, 1987.
Hristic, Jovan (1992) Pozorisni referati. Beograd: Nolit.
Jevtovic, Vladimir (1997) Uzbudljivo pozoriste. Belgrade: Gea.
Klaic, Dragan (1987) “Jugoslovensko pozoriste: osam aktuelnih protivrecnosti”, Scena (Novi Sad)
Miocinovic, Mirjana (1986) “Drama samoocuvanja”, Knjizevna kritika (BeogradPavicevic, Borka (1986) “Raskrsnica slobode i srece”, Knjizevna kritika (Beograd)
Stamenkovic, Vladimir (1963) “Izmedu stvarnosti i ogledala.” NIN (Belgrade) 17 March.
(1999) Monografija o Petru Kralju. Zbornik. Belgrade: SDUS.
(2003) Monografija o Radetu Markovicu. Zbornik. Belgrade: SDUS.
(2002-5) Programmes of the “Slavija 2002-2005” Festival. Belgrade: Slavija.
(2005) Programme of “FIST 01” 11-13 March, Belgrade: FDU.