General Manager of the National Theater in Nis: Decentralization in culture exists in every city that has a theater. A theater cannot be the driver of one city or one region.
Emil Zola’s novel “Nana” problematizes all those topics and relationships that interest me, as a conglomerate of narratives of the reality in which we reside: theater, politics, media, society classes … It seems that once established relationships between them survive through the centuries to this day, even though every revolution through history has at least for a moment succeeded in disrupting them.
This is how Spasoje Z. Milovanovic, playwright and General Manager of the National Theater in Nis, whose dramatization (and directed by Ivana Vujic), the cult Zola’s novel will be staged in November on venue of “Madlenianum”, begins in the interview for Novosti
What fascinates him, as our interlocutor points out, is Zola’s vivisection of the theatricalization of a society where the border between theatrical and non-theatrical reality is being abolished:
– I have consistently followed the composition of the novel, playing in the form of Boulevard Theater, in which the chorus, as a plurality of individual fates and voices, preserves the memory of a Greek tragedy, but also becomes an omniscient storyteller, somewhat like a social network, selected avatars gathered around the retelling of Nana’s fate.
* National Theater in Nis finished the previous season with 131 programs, renewed repertoire with nine premiere titles…
– Approximately 24,000 spectators attended our theater performances, and several thousand citizens attended numerous program and promotional activities. The National Theater can be satisfied with the past season, as good foundations have been laid for the further development of the theater, both in program and technological terms.
* Is the Festival “Theater at the Crossroads” the right recipe for good performances outside Belgrade?
– The festival has taken the first step. Still unconfident, but certainly immensely important. At the first festival, the audience had the opportunity to see 10 performances from eight countries. From that end, we can be more than encouraged to continue. However, the right positioning on the festival map is yet to come.
* Does the General Manager position separate you from the profession and to what extent?
– For me, leadership of the theater is just another form of artistic expression. The experience I have as a theatrologist, playwright, director and theater critic greatly facilitates my current engagement. By this I mean communication and striving for a common goal with colleagues at the National Theater in Nis. Their support and understanding, respect for the agreed obligations, at the same time enabled me to continue with my basic activities.
* How important are co-productions?
– Networking of theaters in this way opens the possibility for the audience to recognize and meet new faces and habits that they carry. At the same time, it is possible to identify the potential at all levels of cities whose theaters open bridges of cooperation. Co-production is also a way of decentralization. A theater cannot be a drive of one city or one region. Decentralization in culture, in my opinion, exists in every city that has a theater or any institution of culture. In this sense, cultural decentralization went much further than any other.
* What needs to be done to strengthen the exchange between Belgrade and the rest of Serbia?
– The problem of Belgrade and the rest of Serbia lies in the fact that, at least for now, the biggest and largest capital is in Belgrade, the largest population lives here, the largest theater, media and film companies … I am not talking, of course, about the qualitative values of what is happening . I argue that actors from Nis, Krusevac, Uzice, Sabac or Sombor, with media support from Belgrade, would become just as stars as actors living and working in the capital. Only then could we form some good exchange parameters. This way, you have no parameters. Artists outside Belgrade are out of focus of media and recognition, and as a rule additional efforts are made in any type of communication. Creating fame about Belgrade as the only place in Serbia with opportunities to advance and prove quality has led to a third of the population living and working in it. It’s a good thing that this type of attitude is changing. Certainly not at the speed we want, but it is changing. Economic and legal strengthening of society and the state, greater mobility of the population, are slowly shifting their focus from Belgrade to other areas.
* How can theaters outside Belgrade fight for more equal treatment when it comes to funding?
– The long-desired Theater Law will certainly have to answer all these questions, as well as to offer models for the establishment of the theater, the obligations of the founders, the systematization of workplace … Establishing rules and long-term planning is a necessary condition for the stabilization of every institution and society including theaters. Summarizing the questions and answers, it can be said that the Serbian theaters are in a state of absolute readiness to submit themselves to the first passer-by, through their own fault, and through the fault of society.
* Is it fair that only the national theater is funded by the state and that other theaters are left to local governments?
– There are different examples of how theater funding works in different countries. Theaters in Northern Macedonia and Bulgaria are all on the state budget and compete for funding annually. In Germany, there are state and city budget theaters. England and France have their national houses. There are two theaters on the budget of the Republic of Serbia: the National Theater in Belgrade and the National Theater in Pristina with a temporary place in Gracanica. I am truly sorry that ten years ago, by an unreasonable decision of the then provincial authorities, the SNP was removed from the Republic’s budget. I am deeply convinced that each country must have its own national institutions to which it pays particular attention. SAVIN, TOMIC, DJORDJEVIC…
* Can you reveal to us what you are preparing for the new season?
– The doors of theater will continue to be open to all those ideas that contribute to connecting diversity, encourage reflection on respect for others, promote positive values and label the shortcomings of contemporary society … Such principles have also determined the repertoire of the 2019/2020 season premieres under the slogan “Myth and Bribe”. On October 6, the program will feature “The Government and Its Opposition” by Nebojsa Romcevic, directed by Egon Savin, then on November 28, “Blood of the Red Rooster” by Milos Latinovic, directed by Jovana Tomic, and “One Oedipus” by Armand Nasiment Rosa, directed by Jug Djordjevic scheduled for December 21 …