Three days in a village tavern. A crew of friends whose idol is Šaban Šaulić. One girl, one mother, one sister and a little more family. One cowboy with no cows and another one who is the main villain in the village. They are there for their business. They did not qualify for the heroes of the drama by their heroic deeds or significant thoughts. They do not belong to conventional civic theater. Not them, not the music they love, not the dreams that some of them may not have had.
A Dream of Homeland is actually the subtitle of Ivan Velisavljević’s drama Come By Says the Man. The subtitle became the title of our play A Dream of Homeland, not only because with few words it encompasses a series of universally recognizable emotions and that in this syntagm the muddy streets of the homeland are illuminated by the deceptive light of nostalgia (and we know that the dream of the homeland is always bigger and more beautiful than the homeland itself ) but also because, not only formally, he very explicitly directed us to everything that is under and below, through that small basement window that the playwright opened.
Konstantin Kol Vitas, a returnee from Ithaca, New York, seeing his reflection in the window pane saw that the face he glimpsed in the glass was not his own, “but the face of a thin man with small eyes, freshly shaven, a man I would pass on the street trying not to brush his shoulder.”
All the characters of A Dream of Homeland are the ones we would walk past on the street, trying not to brush our shoulders with them. And they have no problem with that. Even, unlike Konstantin Vitas, not even aware of it.
Konstantin, the one of them who got the farthest, to Ithaca in the U.S. and from there back to his Ithaca, returned without exciting stories about nymphs, cyclops and monsters, he returned to his homeland carrying with him the dream of that homeland. From Ithaca to Ithaca, in search of identity, origin and meaning. These others, who have not left their village, and without reading Homer, know that the road from Ithaca leads back to Ithaca, and that the circle begins where it closes. They contemplate the transience of life through the songs of their idol.
They are neither better nor more beautiful than they are, nor do they try to be. Life did not spare them, although it cannot be said that they did much in life. Most of them are crippled, but it is not something they are ashamed of. They are what they are. Even when they become the heroes of the drama. The fate of each of them fits into a poem by Šaban Šaulić. Unless those songs were based on their lives. Where nothing is possible, everything is possible.
There is a village and in it a group of friends whose idol is Šaban Šaulić.
Author team of the play
BIOGRAPHY OF THE DIRECTOR
Milan Nešković, born in Valjevo in 1985. He graduated theater directing at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts in Belgrade in the class of prof. Nikola Jevtić and prof. Alisa Stojanovic. He has been awarded multiple times for his theater, and not only theater work, because he has been active in various fields of culture in the region for more than a decade. This is his third direction at the National Theater in Niš.
A WORD FROM THE AUTHOR
From the moment I wrote A Dream of Homeland, death took away a lot of what that piece is based on: many American dreams, some Serbian villages, and even Šaban Šaulić himself, the king of folk music. Šaban Šaulić was buried in the Alley of Meritorious Citizens, which was unimaginable at the time when this play takes place. Even in our theaters it has become common to explore villages, small towns and the influence of folk music, although the Krležian dramaturgy, the influence of alternative and underground movements on themes and characters, as well as the visual heritage of expressionism in directing – all of which are influences on my play – remain, unfortunately, rare. That’s why today when I watch A Dream of Homeland brought to life in the theater, it takes on a completely different meaning. The issues of villages, returning to the homeland and disability have become even more difficult and topical in a country with a high mortality rate, whose population is aging and emigrating (as well as in other countries of Eastern Europe and the former Yugoslavia). The desire for violence and the colonization of consciousness under the influence of the American empire became a huge source of internal unrest, which has reached us almost literally. The pathos of Šaban Šaulić’s dramatic music now sounds to me less like a counterpoint – an elegiac song at the moment of farcical disintegration, above all of the main character Konstantin Vitas and his dreams and delusions – and more like a requiem that a larger-than-life voice sings to a civilization, but this time from the other side of the sky. A nightmare from which one could still wake up turned into a nightmare in reality. What theater can do there, and why we need it, I’m not sure anymore, but I’m glad that we’re gathering here on the occasion of my play, so we can all search for an answer together.
And their pain, and their sorrow and joy and love, are more honest than the emotions that polished conventional theater can handle.
BIOGRAPHY OF THE AUTHOR
Ivan Velisavljević, born in Šabac in 1982. Graduated general literature and literary theory at the Faculty of Philology and Dramaturgy at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts in Belgrade. He completed his master’s degree in comparative literature, with his filmology work, at the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Zagreb. He worked as an editor of the Archive of Alternative Film at the Cultural Center “Student City” in Belgrade.
On Radio Belgrade, his original radio dramas But You Took My Soul, The Day of Revenge, The Return of the Night Dragon, The Death of Rimbaud and The Glory and Death of the Great Devil, as well as fifteen adaptations of prose works, were broadcast. He is the screenwriter of the feature films If the Rain Does Not Fall (dir. Marko Sopić, 2022) and Manja (dir. Nikola Končarević, 2023), the medium-length films Hardship Express (dir. Siniša Dugonjić and Marina Radmilac, 2009) and Amplifier and Guitar (dir. Siniša Dugonjić , 2010), as well as the television series Some Better People (2021) and Truths and Lies (2018).
He is the author of the books Critical Guide to Serbian Film 2000–2017 and Best Serbian Films of the 21st century (with Đ. Bajić and Z. Janković, Film Center of Serbia, Belgrade, 2017/2018). Poetry books Kan (Zaslon, Šabac, 2001) and Anthology: Poets Heteronyms (with Milan N. Lukić, Pesničenje, Belgrade, 2011).
As a playwright, he collaborated on Marko Misirača’s theater plays Yugoslavia, My Country (Gledališče Kopar/Pozoriste Prijedor/FES, 2021), Nobody’s Son (BDP, Belgrade, 2018), Champions (2017), the Gathering Center (NPRS Banja Luka/Pozoriste Prijedor , 2017), Sons Die First (NPRS Banja Luka, 2016), as well as in the performances of Radio Šabac (dir. Olga Dimitrijević, Šabacko pozorište, 2021), Letters From Afghanistan (dir. Ivan Tomašević, Šabacko pozorište, 2019), Long Nights and Black Flags (dir. Ivan Vuković, NP Niš/Šabačko pozorište/Grad Smederevo, 2015) and Constantin (dir. Jug Radivojević, NP Niš, 2013).
He edited the books New Shots: Extreme Values of Serbian Cinema (with D. Ognjanović, Klio, Belgrade, 2008) and Studying Mammalians (DKSG, Belgrade, 2019), as well as the topic of the Gradac magazine about unusual bodies/disability in culture and society (DK Čačak , 2012).
He won the “Raymon Keno” award for prose, “Josip Kulundžić” for the best published essay in the field of film and “Vitomir Bogić” for the best young radio creator.
In the show, songs by Šaban Šaulić are performed.
Konstantin Kol Vitas – Marko Radojević
Katarina – Maja Vukojević Cvetković
Gordana Vitas - Sanja Krstović
Snežana Vitas – Bratislava Milić
Mali Šaulis – Miloš Cvetković
Utjeha - Danilo Petrović
Galeb - Aleksandar Stevanović
Andrija Vitas - Andrija Mitić
Robert Popović – Stefan Mladenović
Civija - Aleksandar Marinković
Grandfather Triša - Aleksandar Mihailović
Stage manager: Slobodan Ilić
Sound design: Aleksandar Stefanović
Lighting design: Dejan Cvetković, Marko Đorđević
Prompter: Vanja Šukleta
Technical director: Dejan Mitić
Stage master: Slaviša Filipović
Stage dressers: Marin Rajić, Miodrag Đorđević, Srđan Kitanović and Mića Lazarević
Props: Dragan Nikolić
Wardrobe: Dušica Mladenović and Katarina Pavlović
Makeup artists, hair stylists: Ljiljana Rašić, Marija Cvetanović and Ivana Lazarević
Tailoring works: Marina Stevanović and Vladimir Pekić
Workshop: Aleksandar Rajić and BraNišlav Nikolić
Procurement: Zoran Denčić and Ivan Todorović
Driver: Nebojsa Šarčević