Marjan Maksa Todorovic, an actor employed at the National Theater in Nis, deals with various forms of artistic creation, and one of them is writing drama plays. After the drama “Ees fashion”, which was part of the triptych of the show under the common name “Selected and destroyed”, this is the second play that is performed on the stage of the National Theater in Nis. The play “Where were we” was declared one of the top five in the Sterija Pozorje competition in 2011. While waiting for the premiere, we took the opportunity to talk to Marjan about this piece, inspiration and motives.
You are an actor by profession, but you are also known as a playwright. How much does your acting experience help you create a drama play?
It spoils it as much as it helps because while composing the text, I first act out each written line for myself, to be sure of its authenticity and to make it as natural as possible. However, later it mostly turns out that, no matter how natural those replicas were, a good part of them are actually excessive; it may be true that one would utter them in such a private conversation, but on stage they often represent only an unnecessary excess of information. But that’s why there are directors and “institution” of strikes. 😊
What inspired you to write this play?
This drama play was actually written ten years ago, in 2011, when I was forced to do all kinds of work due to lack of professional engagement, so at the time of the census I found myself in the role of one of the enumerators. That employment, in the sense of nature of that job, took me to all sorts of households of our fellow citizens, with the most colorful array of their characters, and there somehow crystallized some typical characters, which I would later use as characters for my play.
What genre would define your piece?
This work can be characterized as a comedy only in that it is largely filled with witty lines, but in essence, it is a cruel social drama, with occasional elements of uncompromising farce.
What makes this story interesting and receptive to the audience?
Whether it will be interesting and receptive to the audience, we will see when the play comes to life in the repertoire, but what I can say in its defense at the starting point is that this story is a good mirror of our mentality and our characters, in a rather distorted period of our existence in this region.
While working, the character of the enumerator encounters different characters and mentalities. Tell us something about those characters?
These are, in principle, characters that we daily meet out on the street, in the store, in public transportation, and in various institutions of our system, only that in my play their conditionally speaking, advantage is that each of them is in his/her house, so at home, meaning that he/she can say out loud what he/she is mostly silent about outdoor.
What do you want to suggest to the audience with the title “Where Were We?” Will the audience get a concrete answer or is it a warning that we haven’t actually stopped, but are spinning in a circle or going backwards?
The most interesting of all is the fact that I wrote this text ten years ago, which is how long it stayed in the drawer, and that when I finally took it out after that time, I wiped the dust off of it and read it again, I realized that with minimal corrections it absolutely stands in the present day as well. So, after ten years, I had to change almost nothing in the text, for it to be more than current. That is also the answer to the question of whether we have stopped somewhere or are spinning in a circle or going backwards.
Could this piece represent a social overview of the state of Serbian society at the moment and why?
I’m afraid to admit it, but I think absolutely YES. And why, the audience will judge for themselves.
And what’s next, do you already have something planned?
I would like to bring this piece to an end first and stage it properly, because it is my current preoccupation, and if everything goes well, then we will already figure out what, how and where to go next. Anyway, I only plan until noon tomorrow. 😊