photography: Jelena Janković
photography: Jelena Janković

- If Aeschylus wrote Oresteia to glorify democracy, what did this democracy give us today? With all the wars that are going on, does democracy still exist?

Johan: I think that what they meant by democracy differs from our experience of democracy. I think what they had in mind was justice, the system of justice, rather than being trapped within this vicious circle of violence and revenge. We should simply vote for or against, and let the judge finally decide. Eventually, that’s what the play comes down to. The tragedy is a crisis with an exit at the end. That exit, that solution, in this case, is Athena who imposes justice. We tried to confront this thing that happened in Mosul. It happened today, in reality. However, we didn’t manage to show the way out, because there isn’t one. That is why this play ends with the girl in the camp. So there is no resolution, there is no justice.


- So you think that there is no justice in the world?

Johan: No, I didn’t say that. There must be some justice in the world.  Maybe in democratic countries, where democracy actually works. That is also getting more and more complicated with all those populists overpowering democratic system.


- Do you think that democracy can actually work or is it just an idealistic theory?

Johan: I do not think it should be treated as something divine. It's just a bunch of agreements. You agree about things and you stick to the agreement to make living together possible. It’s very simple. And I think that there are countries where that does function.


- What has the history taught us about wars?

Susana: As the play says: "We shall all suffer and learn," but what are we learning from suffering?


- Do you think that war is like a drug for society?

Susana: Sometimes I do. Sometimes I see it as the evil part of the circle. It repeats itself, only with different techniques.

Johan: But in a strange way war generates progress, too. All innovations are done in the times of war.

Susana: Yes, the first human act was killing. That’s how the history of civilization began.


- Somewhere at the beginning of the play, there is a scene in which you, Johan, strangle a girl. How did you feel in that role?

Johan: Well, it's something that has to be done. It’s in the film, but it is a difficult thing to do. I’m not sure how relevant my feelings are, it is not about me. What is good is that it takes such a long time to strangle somebody that it becomes unbearable for the audience. I think this is the right way to provoke, because we do not present violence in an aesthetic way, we reconstruct it, we try to show, but we never manage to show real violence. Still, the time it takes gives people the feeling of discomfort. I think that's the point that Milo wanted to make right from the start.


- The scene of Agamemnon’s returning home with imprisoned Cassandra, in which he gets welcomed by Clytemnestra, his wife, and her lover Aegisthus, has a very interesting directorial adaptation. You show a husband and a wife sitting at the table and having dinner together with their lovers. Is this normal in today's society? Do we live in a society where the basic relationships cannot last?  

Johan: That scene was based on improvisation. I do not know if those relationships ever lasted before. I think that maybe the few advantages that modern life has brought is not the cynicism of this scene, I think that things are more open. If we look at this 19th century theater and the 19th people sitting there, imagine them with all those couples and families staying together, and all the affairs that must have taken place. I do not think things have changed that much. This scene is not realistic, of course, it is inspired by Bergman and Pinter. All these big moments and silence, banality and triviality combined.

Susana: I think that is a generalization of things. To say that it is a trend of the west. My husband is five years younger than me and I don’t think this is a trend. But still, I love that question, because I do think that there are relationships that can last forever. The “forever” might be a strong word, but at least 300 years.


- What role do you think artists have today? I would like you to give me a personal review of Gent manifesto.

Johan: I like it because it is provocative. It is a good start for hours and hours of debate. How effective it is and how firmly we should stick to it, I can’t tell. It is done by an artist, so it is both absolute and absurd. Everybody should make theater the way they feel they should. So to make a manifesto, it is as if someone introduces a new law. But he did not care, he wrote it and got the result he wanted: people talk about it, some are angry, some accept it, some think it is funny. I think it's good, because it changes the way theater is perceived, it causes a shift in the heads of theater makers. But I don’t take every point as an absolute truth, it is not even meant to be like that.


- Which of these points do you feel is closest to your personal opinion?

Johan: I like the idea that he wants to involve non-professional actors. For me as a professional actor it is very helpful to work with such people. They are very passionate. That interests and inspires me very much.

Susana: For me it was very interesting that at least one play a year needs to be produced in a region without an existing infrastructure, in the middle of crisis.


- What has the process with Milo taught you?

Susan: Milo has taught me a lot of things, but especially that this is a process that can be changed every day and every minute, and there is something beautiful in creating the doubt in what you're doing. So this is also how I see the Gent manifesto. It is a self-doubting manifesto, so you cannot take it 100%.

Johan: I like that he does not want participants to be virtuous actors, he wants them to be right, and to be simple transmitters. As the French say: "les interprètes". I like that position. It is more complicated than it seems, because it is a matter of being simple. I learned that being simple can be really difficult. But if you manage to do that, acting becomes a pleasure, because only then do you communicate. The state of openness is very difficult. "Not- acting" is very fashionable today, and it can be very boring and uninteresting. But you have to have an inner fire or conviction, or something. I like actors who are able to do this.


 - What is the role of actor in today's society?

Susana: I can’t give an answer to that question.

Johan: Do you have 3-4 hours for a response? I am not able to answer either. It's a theoretical question. I'm an actor, but what is my role in society? Theater has a function and being a part of this function is ok for me, but when it comes to me as a person? I do not know. My first aim is to have fun doing what I am doing, and then to try and do it in a context where theatre changes people a little bit and makes them think, but it's all relative.