AT THE BEGINNING
The National Theatre in Niš organizes the first drama and theatre festival and competition of the Balkan cultural spacecalled Theatre at the Crossroads. The Festival will be held in Niš between March 12 and 19, 2019.
As the only theatre festival with an idea to gather theatre art of the Balkan cultural space in one place, the Theatre at the Crossroads aims at affirming similarities and differences of the cultural identity of countries and peoples sharing the same space, of the country of Serbia and the city of Niš as the crossroads of European and world routes, and strengtheninginternational cultural exchange, promotingtheatre art and theatre creators, exchanging ideas and theatre practices and it is committed to challenges and perspectives of the contemporary theatre.
The Program Council of the Festival has been formed and it is composed of the prominent theatre practitioners from Serbia and the region: president – NebojšaBradić, director (Serbia); members – AleksandarMilosavljević, theatre critic (Serbia) DarkoLukić, Ph.D., theatrologist (Croatia), DejanLilić, actor (Macedonia), DejanPetković, theatrologist (Serbia), DejanStojiljković, writer (Serbia) and manager of the National Theatre in NišSpasoje Ž. Milovanović, M.A., theatrologist.
The Festival will be officially opened on March 11, 2019 on the Niš National Theatre Day with the premiere of the play Travelling Troupe Šopalović by LjubomirSimović, directed by Tanja MandićRigonat and produced by the National Theatre in Niš.
In addition to eight productions in competition selection from Serbia and the regionand the performance in honour of the awarded, whose premieres were held in the course of the calendar year prior to the Festival and in the selection of Spasoje Ž. Milovanović, an entire series of accompanying programs will be organized: theround table of critique, thepanel discussion Theatre at the Crossroads, as well as promotions of books and theatre journals.
The festival jury will present awards for the best play, directing, four acting awards, costume and set design, for original stage music, stage movement and special award of the Festival. In addition to these, there will be awards presented by the round table of critique and award presented by the jury of journalists.
The idea of establishing a theatre festival in Niš has existed for several decades already, and one of the steps was the acting festival „GlumBal“. It was not until the beginning of this season, and with the full support and sponsorship of the Mayor and the Assembly of the City of Niš, as the founder of the National Theatre in Niš, that the conditionsfor the realization of such a project, important for theatre life of the entire region, have been created.
About Crossing Borders
An imaginary interview with Nebojša Bradić
What is most striking in marking the culture in our region?
Nebojša Bradić: Metaphorical Crossroads: a promising mix of events with the prospect of becoming an alloy, a search for new people, for the old common cultural space, and an apprehension to say it publicly and falter during opening…
When it comes to culture and cultural cooperation, to what extent have the „ramps“ really been removed – reality shows us that the cooperation, that has been happening in recent years, has mostly been the result of individual initiative and gestures, and not of inter-country programs and projects?
N. B: It is good that these are the gestures of individuals. It is for the purpose of better control of individual crossing of border that the ramps have been lowered. I guess that those who have lowered them, now may have the reasons to be satisfied.
In your opinion, what could really be called the brand of the Balkans and so be placed in Europe and in the world?
N. B: I am not a supporter of the „brands“ culture. I am convinced that true values are one of the most efficient ways to search for and find the road for cultures of the Bakans in the world.
In what way should a significant cultural cooperation in the region be initiated, since we see that today it is easier to communicate and cooperate with the countries in Europe and the world than with the countries that once made up the same country?
N. B: There is nothing new about the need to communicate well, or as you say better, with strangers rather than with neighbors. I wish we had more opportunities earlier to socialize and create with colleagues from all over the world. There will certainly be time for the young to like and want to be with those with whom they can speak without linguistic and political intervention.
How do you see the cooperation of Serbia and the countries in the region, if it is known that in last decades the doors to certain festivals and institutions in the neighbouring countries, have been closed for Serbian artists?
N. B: I like to think that the artist should go where he/she is invited and welcome, both he/she personally and his/her work. After all, Niš festival Theatre at the Crossroads opens its scene to theatres from the region. We develop good relations with the colleagues, so I believe in the possibility that, for example, Yugoslav Drama Theatre will have the opportunity to perform in front of the festival audience in Dubrovnik.
There are many indicators that culture throughout the former Yugoslav territory is completely „networked“ in politics, power and financial power, for unfortunally, one is still begging for culture. The reflection of that lies in the fact that in an environment where one begs for money, the artist cannot really be free and critical, nor can provocative and exciting works be created. If a provocation does occur, it is predominantly an incident. What is your attitude towards this „networked artist“ who has almost become a practice?
If you allow me, I would speak about a different kind of an esentially needed networking of our artists, which are European, world and regional networks within which the artists work, travel and collaborate on joint projects, and whose importance goes beyond the local, and therefore the artists do not have time for politics or begging…
FOR NEW FRONTS
In addition to good plays, Niš Festival is expected not only to become a relevant cultural crossroads, where the most diverse information about the theatre life of the communities from which the participants come from will cross paths and intertwine, but also to create a solid basis for joint opposition to the ever more dramatic marginalization of culture, which affects not only contemporary creativity, but also serious art festivals, as places that represent that very creation. Consequently, I expect a certain front of solidarity and mutual support to be established. The front that will not be based on simple distribution of productions in a wider region – which is just another form of adherence to the conditions imposed by the imperative of commercialization– but the front that will affirm a truely creative cooperation, which will, in addition to the exchange of information and experience, perhaps lead also to the implementation of joint projects, and co-productions even.
ABOUT THE CROSSROADS
Theatre at the Crossroads Festival appears as an important and multifold regional milestone. Crossroads are both in spatial, concrete, physical sense and in the spiritual, metaphorical and cultural context,the places where not only different roads (and even more diverse travelers) meet, but also the places that offer the possibility to choose and decide which road to take. If we look at the repertoire of the first festival, it becomes quite clear what choices and decisions the management and organization has in mind. It is about the choice and decision for open opportunities, encounters and open exchanges. The idea not only affects the spirit and tradition of the space where the festival takes place, but it also, and perhaps even more, responds to the demands and challenges of the time in which it takes place, as well as the need to support the culture of gathering and crossing as opposed to the ideas of separation and breaking up.
WHEN DREAM BECOMES REALITY
When you arrive at the crossroads, you have several roads you can take. When you create a play, the roads, options, ideas are far greater. And when the theatre, artists and audience appear at the crossroads, the options are mercilessly infinite.
At the crossroads, you can be completely alone with your thoughts. You can find yourself in a terrible crowd. You can meet dear ones, friends, foes, an old flame and a new crush. You can meet new people, new ideas, new fashion and old clothes. You can stop for a several times or quickly pass through the crossroads. You can stumble or walk boldly, impudently, and proudly. At the crossroads, you can learn something new, but also teach someone something. You can laugh, flirt, imagine … and get angry and be happy.
Just imagine the roads available and what happens when you place at the crossroads a few generations of actors, directors, playwrights, costume and set designers, stage masters of all kinds, an army of theater spectators who cheer up and support…infinite emotions, embraces, laughter, tears, ideas, friendships, future cooperation…THEATRE at the crossroads happens.
They say, be careful what you dream of, it may come true. The dream dreamt by the city of Niš and the citizens of Niš, the theater lovers, came true. All who have the privilege of coming here, to this mythical place, to work, see, and smell the magic of the theater, they all share the same emotions of absolute happiness and great victories. And there is no stronger feeling than the feeling of a winner. And all those who have fully identified and invested themselves in the project Theater at the Crossroads are great winners.
Tuesday, March 12, 2019 is the beginning of a great idea. The beginning of a great vision. The beginning of endless possibilities.
TOWARD NEW IDENTITY
On the hundred and thirty-third anniversary of its existence and deep roots in our cultural identity, Niš National Theater enters and with a noble aim gathers numerous theaters and their fans at the biggest crossroads in the Balkans. On the day of the beginning of the ancient Greek Great Dionysius, the crowds of talented actors/theatre creators will rush to Niš from all over to demonstrate their view on theatrum mundi on the stage of the first Theater Festival of the Balkan Cultural Space – Theater at the Crossroads. Deep connections of this region with ancient and rich heritage, remind us of the significance of the crossroads in the ancient drama. They are the thresholds where the heroes acquired new identities, fulfilling their mission as bearers of renewed consciousness and a more humane view of the world. This festival, conceived as a new and original unification of diverse theatrical aesthetics, as well as crossing of thematic and philosophical preoccupations brought from other areas that relate to the culture of the Balkans, opens innumerable possibilities for a different view of a man, his place and role in the current social and civilization order.
AT THE CROSSROADS
At the Crossroads is one of the most famous songs by Kerber, a rock band from Niš. My friend Dule Arsenijević wrote lyrics for this song which over time became Evergreen. It was as if back then, when Niš was a part of another country and of a different cultural system, he knew it was our destiny to always be on some sort of a dividing line or a crossroad connecting and dividing roads, civilizations and people. The very idea of Theater at the Crossroads Festival is to connect people through culture, to help them recognize what is common to them and appreciate and respect what makes them different. And differences never lack in the Balkans, sometimes they are the cause of quarrels and disputes and sometimes the cause of socializing and exchange. The new theatre festival, that the City of Niš and the theater of Niš have long since deserved, will be the place of this exchange, the place of understanding and the common energy that makes the region of the Balkans so specific. The city of Niš is that crossroads, where roads, people and ideas meet, and throughout the history the crossroads was its doom, but a blessing too. That is how the Film Festival and Nisville were created, the Literary Colony Sićevo too. It was with that idea that Theatre at the Crossroads has been created too. So, somehow we were destined to have such a festivity, a holiday for all those who love theater and those who are part of it in one way or another.
In some recent archeological researches and probing of the terrain, there were some indications that ancient Niš, at that time a part of the Province of Upper Moesia and the city with the status of municipium, had a big theater. According to these indications, the ancient Niš theater was located towards the north, on the right bank of Nišava (the Romans considered that side “the side of life”) and on the edge of Vinik hill on which it rested. So, it was not by chance then that Vinik was a luxury settlement of the ancient city, where patricians, who loved good wine and a good theater play, lived. We can imagine what it looked like then, more than one and a half millennia ago … The distinguished inhabitants of Naissus, even those of the lower class, craftsmen, soldiers and liberated ones, all at the same place, in the theater where farce and pantomime, and comedies by Plautus and Terence were the most popular. Perhaps the emperor himself had attended some of these performances, because it is known that Constantine the Great, otherwise born of Niš, cultivated great affection for art and philosophy.
And so, the imperial city, many centuries after one great emperor was born in it, gets a new theatre festival and just like Constantine once, it strives for unification and synergy through the idea of connecting.
Welcome to Upper Moesia. Welcome to Niš. Welcome to the National Theatre.
And, when you are already at the crossroads, i.e. in Rome, do as the Romans do…
Or as people from Niš do, it is somehow the same.