Photo: Dragana Udovičić
Photo: Dragana Udovičić

Girl Power on Bitef

The spirit of social engagement is this year presented not only through the thematic focus, based on the concept of post-humanism reacting against the environmental crisis, but also through the selection of the jury, which, clearly aimed at empowering women, consists of only female representatives. According to the artistic director of Bitef, Ivan Medenica, that is a modest contribution to the female movement which, although caused by ugly reasons, has in a positive way shaken up our community over the previous year.

The laureate of the Grand Prix “Mira Trailović” will, therefore, be decided by Shermin Langhoff the artistic director of the Maxim Gorki Theatre Berlin and the chairwoman, Lucia van Heteren, a theatrologist and a professor at the University of Groningen, Agata Juniku, theatrologist and a professor at the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Zagreb, Cecilia Djurberg, a theatre critic and journalist, and Jovana Tomić, a theatre director. Yet another great woman, an actress and an environmental activist, Svetlana Bojković, will speak at the grand opening of the festival.

Vesna Čipčić: new acting experience with Ersan Mondtag

The first performance in the main programme, and the festival premiere, is Living Room, in the production of the Belgrade Drama Theatre, and directed by Ersan Mondtag. The performance which brings one of the most relevant European theatre directors of the younger generation back to Bitef, after his two performances were selected for the 51st Bitef main programme, and he was a member of the 53rd Bitef jury, is yet another empowering “female” aspect at this festival, since it supports the view that women, regardless of the side their men take, represent the biggest victims of the wars and the history, which is also presented on stage by an absurdly enlarged painting “The Siege of Belgrade” by Katarina Ivanović, a Serbian painter from the 19th century.

The main character, opera singer Katarina Malković, is played by Vesna Čipčić, who sees the premiere at Bitef as a crowing jewel of an extraordinary, and according to her “Bitef-esque” season in the Belgrade Drama Theatre, but also a new experience: “I must say that Living Room has shocked me more than once. When I came to the first rehearsal, I found the entire production design on stage, the costumes prepared, the lighting and the sound too, as well as the props. For our theatre, that was unusual and quite extraordinary. The next shock came when Ersan told us that there is no text. I thought, what is this, what am I doing here? But after three or four rehearsals, I realized that I did not need the text. The pleasure to play without bring compelled to utter, that is so thrilling for an actor”, she said and added for Bitef blog:

“Meeting such a director’s approach is for me, an actress who has spent so many years in theatre, something that now I can hardly imagine finishing my career without. Such an interesting process, the joy, the passion, the emotion… I can only wish my young colleagues an opportunity to go through such a process at some point in their careers”, she concluded.

Tickets for Living Room, but for all the other performances in the main programme can be bought from 11am till 3pm at the box office in Kombank Hall (Dvorana) throughout the festival. Still, let’s opt for online purchase as an environmentally more responsible option, and spare the paper: that might be a small contribution, but still a grand gesture in the moment when we all are… at the Edge of the Future.

See you at Bitef!
Mila Jovanović