The Niš National Theater is presenting the fourth “Theatre at the Crossroads”, a competitive festival of drama and theater of the Balkan cultural space. The festival will be held in Niš from September 4 to 10, 2023.
Festival selector Spasoje Z. Milovanović, MA, chose six plays from Serbia and neighboring countries for the main, competitive part of the Festival:
William Shakespeare MACBETH, directed by Jagoš Marković, National Theater in Belgrade, Serbia (September 4);
J. B. P. Moliere MISERE, directed by Dora Ružđak Podolski, Kerempuh Satirical Theatre, Zagreb, Croatia (September 5);
Aleksandar Popović, NIGHT FRIEND, directed by Branislav Mićunović, National Theater Niš, Serbia (September 6);
Ivo Andrić GOSPOĐICA, directed and adapted by Đurđa Tešić, YU National Theater of the Serbian Republic, Banja Luka, B&H / Serbian Republic (September 7);
Branislav Nušić, THE DECEASED, directed by Egon Savin, Montenegrin National Theater and Tivat Culture Center, Montenegro (September 8);
Staša Prah, FAIR VIDA, directed by Marjan Nećak, co-production of Gledališče Koper – Teatro Kapodistria, Slovenia and the Slovenian permanent theater of Trieste, Italy (September 9);
At the closing of the Festival on September 10, in honor of the awardees, the audience will have the opportunity to see the Niš premiere of the play by Giovanni Boccaccio, THE DECAMERON, directed by Dejan Projkovski, a co-production of YU City Theater Podgorica, Montenegro, Cultural Center Bar – Bar Chronicle Festival, Montenegro, and the National Theater in Niš, Serbia.
On that occasion, awards for the best play, direction, four acting awards, for costume design and scenography, for original stage music, for stage movement, as well as a special Festival award will be presented. Apart from these, the award of the round table of critics and the award of the jury of journalists will be also presented.
In addition to the six competing shows and the performance in honor of the awardees, a rich accompanying program will be held: discussions about the performances, panels, book launches.
The Festival’s program council consists of prominent theater creators from Serbia and the region: Duško Ljuština, PhD, culture manager (Zagreb, Croatia); Vasilka Bumbarova, theatrologist (Sofia, Bulgaria); Dejan Lilić, drama champion (Skopje, North Macedonia); Miloš Latinović, playwright and writer (Belgrade, Serbia); Miroslav Radonjić, PhD, theatrologist (Novi Sad, Serbia), in accordance with the Festival’s legal regulations, the mayor of Niš, Dragana Sotirovski, tourism expert and the general manager of the National Theater in Niš, Spasoje Ž. Milovanović, MA, theatrologist, who is also the festival director and selector.
The expert jury of this year’s festival consists of: prof. Nenad Novaković, Ph.D., expert in electronic media and cultural management (B&H), Irena Šarović, ballerina, choreographer and dramaturg graduate (Serbia), Vasil Vasilev, theater director and general manager of the National Theater “Ivan Vazov” in Sofia (Bulgaria), Milica Bajić Đurov , scenographer and costume designer (Serbia) and Dušan Kovačević, actor and producer (Montenegro).
Since this year, the festival has the status of a manifestation of importance in the field of culture for the city of Nis.
The Festival “Theatre at the Crossroads” aims to affirm the similarities and differences of the cultural identity of the countries and peoples that share the same cultural space, the affirmation of the state of Serbia and the city of Niš as a crossroads of European and global roads, the strengthening of international cultural exchange, the promotion of theater art of the Balkan cultural space, as well as the exchange of ideas and theatrical practices.
THE TRADITION OF MODERNITY
(Regarding the selection of the 4th Drama and Theatre Festival of the Balkan Cultural Space “Theatre at the Crossroads”)
In every historical period, simply put, we can recognize its modernity and its tradition.
However, every modernity, prior to breaking the tradition, establishes itself as a new tradition or a tradition of the new, a tradition of the modern, a tradition of anti-traditionalism. Namely, each individual break creates a new value that itself carries a call for repetition, that is, demands that a tradition be established according to it.
Even if it wants to adopt a stance of radical rupture or radical beginning without referring to any tradition, modernity must face the fact that such a stance already has its own tradition and that it is not the first attempt at a strategy of radical initiation.
Simply, breaking the tradition is impossible, because everything, viewed purely syllogistically, sooner or later continues to live as part of tradition.
At the same time, modernity exists as a necessary companion of every tradition, as its desire for change, contrary to the need “to stay the same”.
Modernity, therefore, necessarily refers to some tradition. That referencing is, as a rule, imitation with a difference. Or, mimesis commanded by the non-identical: new, innovation. Hence, when we talk about phenomena such as modern/postmodern, we can talk about the innovation of tradition.
Modern and postmodern as two historical times, i.e. as a conscious recognition of socio-cultural changes in the sequence of historical times can be recognized as:
a) Modernity – a great era of world history, which followed the Middle Ages and lasted approximately five hundred years, starting from the Renaissance to the middle of the 20th century,
b) Modernism – a certain socio-cultural period, which ends the epoch of modernity and lasts for about half a century (in different versions: from the end of the XIX century or the First World War to the fifties or sixties of the XX century),
c) Postmodernity (it is correlative with “modernity”) – a long-lasting era, in the first century of which we live,
d) Postmodernism (it is correlated with “modernism”) – the first period, the entry into that great age of
Generally speaking, both modernism and postmodernism, as aesthetic and ethical ideologies, arose from the need for different interpretations of the relationship (within) art and (within) society.
Revolutionism is a modernist phenomenon in the broadest sense of the word, which can be defined as the search for the true, higher, pure reality, which is outside the conditional signs and culture system, and the determination of the unconditionality of being. All modernist directions and all modernist revolutions, as aspirations for the emancipation of the individual and social progress, represent a revolutionary overturn of the classical paradigm and the determination of the “last” and pure reality. At its core was the value of realistic knowledge, individual self-awareness and rational action, calculating on one’s own strengths, the conscious self-organization of humanity.
Postmodernism, as is known, harshly criticizes modernism precisely for this illusion of “ultimate truth”, “absolute language” and “new style”, which “open the way to pure reality”. It appears as an attempt to close, bend and drown sign systems in themselves. Postmodernism criticizes the very idea of some kind of reality, which is outside the boundaries of signs, as another “last illusion”, as an unsurpassed remnant of the old metaphysics of presence. The world of repeatability, conditional reflections, is more primary than the world of so-called “realities”. Hence, postmodernism speaks not of “pure reality” but of “pseudo-reality”.
For the purposes of this text, we recognize postmodernism, as an aesthetic-ideological strategy, as JeanFrançois Lyotard and Frederic Jameson wrote about them:
– Lyotard says that postmodernism appears as an attempt to return to the initial inconsistencies, which exist in the initial modernist experiments, which preceded the utopian and totalitarian seriousness, which aimed to remake the world: “A work can become modern only if it is initially postmodern. Understood in this way, postmodernism is not the end of modernism, but rather its birth, and that as a state of constant birth.(…) Postmodern was that which shows in the modern the unrepresentable in the representation itself, that which seeks a new representation, not in order to enjoy it, but to give greater importance to the unrepresentable.(…) In this way, the artist and the writer work without rules, to formulate the rules of what could already be.(…) Postmodern should be understood according to the paradox “the future in of the past”.
– Jameson sees postmodernism as the completion of the past: “Because with the collapse of the ideology of style, which is characteristic of high modernism, the producers of culture have no one to turn to but the past: imitation of dead styles, speaking in the name of all masks and all voices, accumulated in the imaginary museum of culture, which has become global.”
Therefore, postmodernism exists as modernism, but which has no future, because the future is contained in the present, in pseudo-realism, the conglomeration of the entire human experience, which is nothing more than the technical stripping of signs of the past and their new composition here and now.
Theatrical tradition defines a performance as a group of stage signs, visual and auditory: actors, costume, scenography, props, speech, music, light and sound effects, which, within a space and a certain time duration, establish a cause-and-effect relationship, and in this way imitate the action. Of course, it is impossible to imagine a play without establishing the relationship between the text template – the text of the play – the audience.
Without any delay, we will state that every modern theatre, from ancient Greece to today, has innovated these signs individually and/or collectively.
In the theatre of modernism and postmodernism, to put it briefly, we recognize the following common features: the reshaping of the theatrical closed space that begins with the hall and spreads to the street, de- and over/illusionism of staging, decor, costumes, depersonalization or over personalization of the actor, primacy of the play over the text, deindividualization of personality, de-textualization or, on the contrary, a tendency to excessive verbalism… All those mirror effects, which had to suggest the world we live in, in the theatre of
post/modernism are subordinated to the structure and specific expectations of the performance, and some referential or mimetic value does not justify their presence is justified by their sensory, plastic, symbolic, magical, etc. qualities.
However, this is where the paths of modernism and postmodernism diverge, i.e., as already said, postmodernism takes over from modernism the purely experimental part: modernism very quickly assumed the social role of a revolutionary, and with the desire to break down the border between theatre and reality, it tried to make changes to that reality, postmodernism strives to create a theatre that is “pure”, “non-referential”, freed from any reference to reality, but at the same time it also strives to create “pseudo-reality”.
In both cases, the change refers to the viewer’s reception habits. The viewer is asked, more than ever before, to participate in the performance. If he is “attacked”, his integration is self-explanatory. If he is faced with a realization that implies a response to its conventions, he is invited as an “interpreter” and “he then has a choice between complete misunderstanding and this effort to decipher”. The viewer, who is used to a diachronic perception of the story and stage action (as a function of the visible, causal, presentation of the story), is forced
to interpret the stage signs synchronically.
The shows of the 4th Festival of Drama and Theatre of the Balkan Cultural Space “Theatre at the Crossroads” base their textual templates on classical (domestic and foreign) literature, whether we are talking about a dramatic text (V. Shakespeare: Macbeth, directed by Jagoš Marković, National Theatre in Belgrade ; Ž.B. Moliere: The Miser, directed by Dora Ružđak Podolski, Kerempuh Satirical Theatre; B.Nušić: The Deceased, directed by Egon Savin, Montenegrin National Theatre; A. Popović: Night-Scented Stock, directed by Branislav Mićunović, National Theatre Niš) , prose (I.Andrić/Vanja Ejdus: Gospođica, director: Đurđa Tešić, National Theatre of the Serbian Republic Banja Luka, G.Boccaccio/Stevo Koprivica: the Decameron, director: Dejan Projkovski, National Theatre: Niš/City Theatre: Podgorica/ JU Cultural Center Bar – “Bar Chronicle”) or the national myth (Staša Prah: Fair Vida, directed by Marjan Nećak, Gledališče Koper – Tetaro Capodistria/
Slovenian permanent theatre Trieste).
At the same time, each of the plays, in an uncompromising way, with extraordinary theatrical means, opens up a whole series of questions concerning the immediate moment of the premiere, both on the aesthetic, ethical, political and generally social level. By thematizing the problems of reality, the selected plays create a kind of genealogical cycle of dispersal of that same reality to the individuation and individualization of each of its parts. Those parts, paradoxically, do not have any reality, which stands apart, because they themselves replace that reality. They have nothing to be compared to. They are a conglomeration of the entire human experience, which is nothing more than the technical stripping and taking over of the signs of the past and their new composition.
However, as the most important thinkers of postmodernism claim, postmodernism, in its connection with the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, wants to send the same message as he did in his most famous work Thus Spoke Zarathustra: history presents movement in cycles that repeat themselves so that meaning of life falls within itself. Then when we realize that our choices and actions are repeated over and over again, we can assume that we will be very careful about what choices and actions we make. We will not be dominated by the past because the future will interest us much more, which in itself means that we accept responsibility for what we will create of ourselves. From there he derives a whole series of more sociological than philosophical questions, which can be reduced to one: can people and their society survive on tattered, outdated ideals and values that no one really believes in anymore?
Finally, each of them once again opens the question without a final, or at least not clearly given answer, posed once at the session of the 18th Kruševac Philosophical and Literary School: why and how does the identity and ideology of the social elite change? This question seems crucial in understanding this here and now, without which there is finally no progressivity. As noted by Svetozar Stojanović: “It is undoubted that members of the elite can be absolved of earlier understandings and actions, but by no means the responsibility for their consequences,
including the responsibility for the earlier wrong ‘influence’ on ‘ordinary’ people.” Until the final serious reflection and given the answer, the past will loom like an evil doom.
At the very end, let’s ask the question – what should the theatre of today do? There is certainly no reliable answer. The only thing left for us is to quote Mao Zedong, like some kind of ironic leftism: “The world is ours. Who will speak, if we won’t? (…) Who knows what today’s youth will do one day? Maybe they will continue the revolution, maybe they will reject it. Future events will be decided by future generations. Today’s youth and the generations that come after them will evaluate the works of the revolution according to their own standards. In
1,000 years even Marx and Engels and Lenin will seem quite ridiculous.”
Spasoje Ž. Milovanović, MA,
Festival Selector and General Manager of the National Theatre in Nis