Photo: Bojana Durman
Photo: Bojana Durman

The two dialogue platforms addressed the topic of young people in theatre - the ones that Polyphony is intended for, and the ones whom we define as young artists. The way the events were announced hinted at the possibility of various interpretations of this notion and of the attribute polyphonic. And how about the conclusions? What are the things that could be defined as polyphonic and who are the ones that could be considered young authors or young audience?

- Polyphony is trying to keep its definition open, to constantly contemplate the meaning of polyphony, rather than clinging to a standard definition. Still, the meaning of the young - both the audience and the authors - is also open enough; it does not seem to refer to an age group but to a more complex notion. That is why the conclusions were polyphonic too - not strictly defined but framed around certain points and concepts that all of us, participants and speakers, could think about. Food for thought.

These platforms were announced not only through listing of the confirmed participants but also by stating that they are open for all the authors, young participants, and representatives of young Bitef Polyphony audience. Who are the people who accepted the call?

- Mostly the authors who took part at this year’s Polyphony, but also the participants of Bitef festival, and other guests. Our plan was to insist on openness as a concept, on an open space which is safe for any kind of conversation.

The other dialogue touched upon the issues that are rarely addressed for various reasons. Possibly for want of more courageous initiators. Could Polyphony be considered the space for such authors? Moreover, is Polyphony sufficient for such topics or does it have a role to motivate institutions to support authors and projects that “speak up”?

- As a festival section, as one of its programmes, Polyphony cannot be sufficient, because the concept of the festival means that the selection echoes the production, instead of being a production in itself. That is why, as things now stand, Polyphony can only highlight the fact that there are authors who address relevant issues and try to promote, as much as possible, the introduction of those topics in the general discourse. When it comes to the topics we talked about, hardly anything could be considered enough.

Institutions were mentioned during the first discussion after Polyphony, when it was said that they should be open for alternative practices. What are the experiences so far, and what the conclusions?

- Generally speaking, the problem is that institutions are closed for alternative practices. Still, that does not mean we should give up on them. The progress might be slow, but it will be achieved. And that, I should say, is better than resentment.

We could also hear an opinion that workshops should be based on research. Moreover, some directions for various “polyphonic” projects have been defined. What are the keywords? Which ideas should future associates promote if they want to find their place within Polyphony?

- Contemplating future projects of Polyphony through keywords is an interesting task. I’d say that words like “openness”, “processuality”, “democracy”, are the first ones to come to mind. That is why it is not about the ideas that would find their place within Polyphony, but rather approaches and procedures which would develop in an open, unusual way, where roles would be constantly changing, not only within a group and the process of creation but during performances as well.

As we are already informed about some of the programmes in the making, what are we to expect that was mentioned at the dialogue platforms? Are some new dialogue platforms in store and what topics will they focus on?

- In the next period, we can expect being introduced to open archives, the topic of memories, and some very interesting discussions on those topics. We can expect the performance in focus, A Midsummer Night's Dream, the anniversaries of projects, and a series of dialogue platforms.

At the end of the online discussion, Ljubica Beljanski Ristić once again noted that Polyphony is not a festival, that it does not have a classic selection, but is always open for new initiatives. And we shall end this interview with an invitation that was sent out on that occasion - let’s get connected.