Марија Ива Гоцић
Within the Day of EU at Bitef, this debate was dedicated to European values, with a special focus on - democracy. Professor Dragoljub Mićunović mentioned the fact that 15th September is the International Day of Democracy and pointed out that the excessive celebration of democracy might be linked to its disappearance. He also expressed his hope that democracy as such cannot disappear since, according to him, it always finds a way to come out and find its place. The professor compared democracy to a “virus in mankind which awakens dignity, equality, justice, solidarity, humanity, but above all freedom”. Man has to believe in his reason and to openly use his mind, he said, and that the open use of mind is reflected in the media. One of those media is theatre. He reminded of the fact that the struggle for public and culture are the main elements in the struggle against dictatorship.
Professor Milena Dragićević Šešić agreed with Mićunović that these populistic times do let mind be publicly used, since it is pushed aside by the authoritarian discourse which is transferred, turned into spectacle and then multiplied, all by tabloids. Dragićević Šešić pointed out that for her, Bitef slogan World without Us is, actually, world without public domain. She also talked about the xenophobic tendency noticeable in the EU, emphasizing that some minorities do not get a chance to express their opinions in quasi-democracies of today, and about the rising right-wing trends in European states, above all having in mind Poland and Hungary, which both, as she said, display discrepancy between official European values and those that they truly support.
Joris Lacoste is of opinion that the primary task of an artist is to pose questions, not to give answers. He talked about the process of creation of Suite No. 3, and said that he tried to collect a wide range of various statements which people from the European states “did not want to hear”. Lacoste said that he asked the interlocutors to share with him what they had heard in their countries that they rather had not. That is how he came to the topics which range from xenophobia, homophobia, to islamophobia. He also noticed that most manipulating speeches in all Europe are very similar in structure, that people in mutually very remote places use the same phrases when they talk about migrants, for example. He pointed out that the content of Suite No. 3 and it subtitle “Europe” create tension in relation to the expectations we might have about the notion “Europe” and what we see in the performance.
Talking about the last year selection, Ivan Medenica pointed out that Bitef has changed its approach this year: last year, its politicality was in the “political form”, as defined by Hans-Thies Lehmann, while this year the politicality lies in the content. He added that, according to him, each good theatre, each theatre which concerns us as citizens is - political theatre. “Phenomena treated by this year’s performances in the main selection are not new”, Medenica said. “These problems did not appear last year, but they have grown amazingly fast”. Medenica touched upon the statement by Dragan Živadinov, who yesterday said that “Nazism is the only realism” and added that, although “history never repeats in the same shape, it still does”, and that the analogies between the Nazism of the last century and the ones of today can be made. He stated that the most relevant artists of today tackle the issues of Nazism and the strengthening of rightwing populism, antisemitism and anti-Muslim discourse, and that they directly deal with certain social problems in a Brechtian manner. Medenica does not claim that the rise of Nazism is a mainstream tendency but that, according to him, it definitely is a tendency ubiquitous in all its varieties, so that the performances that deal with that topic are among the most important performances of today which is why they are selected in this year’s BITEF main programme.