Hello, Ljuba, on behalf of the Bitef blog. Tell us something about your part in Living Room?
- Hell to all the blog readers. I am playing the part of a man in love, the husband of the main protagonist, who wants to make a memorable day for his wife right before a premiere she was supposed to have in the National Theatre. However, the events that follow, whether expected or not, change the life of a young married couple. I wouldn’t want to reveal too much but I would like to say that this was a very interesting task for me. Although the role was not big, the task was very demanding in terms of the approach, so what I’m referring to is the work between the director and the actors that lasted for about seven or eight rehearsals. For me, that was a completely new experience. It was exciting to change the way we usually work, and by that I don’t just mean the actors, but everyone in the theatre.
How would you describe your first encounter with Ersan Mondtag and how was he accepted by the ensemble?
- I’d say he was accepted really well. Ersan is young, a couple of years older than me and, apart from being the director, the lighting and production designer, he has an entire army of young assistants. We were on the same wavelength. It was funny how he, at first, threatened to yell at us, but we still established a nice, creative relationship.
Tell us something about Ersan’s method, his cooperation with actors and how different this process was from the ones you’ve been through before.
- Most of the projects here put actors in the focus. Here, however, I can say that that is not the case. Of course, actors are still very important, and a lot depends on us, but the most relevant element of this performance is the stage design, and the amazing light which is as important as the actors. Still, I repeat, he worked with us for seven or eight days. Ersan came with a clear idea. There was room for compromises and suggestions but he knew very clearly what he wanted and we defined it on stage very quickly. Then we went through the entire performance over and over again, in order to remember everything from the previous rehearsals.
Living Room is your first cooperation with our famous actress Vesna Čipčić. Tell us how it was working with her, and if she was in any way surprizing.
- (laughs) Vesna is, first of all, quite a buddy. And I am very proud that since the end of the process we are on a first-name basis. I met her long time ago, in 2012, while we were filming Professor Kosta Vujić’s Hat, when she accepted me straight away like her child and we’ve been cherishing that relationship ever since.
What does Bitef Festival represent to you and how do you understand this year’s slogan Edge of the Future?
- (laughs) We could even leave out the word future. It could be easily just on the edge, given the circumstances. We should have played this performance at last year’s Bitef but the situation with the pandemics prevented that. I have never had an opportunity to be a part of Bitef Festival and I am honoured, since we are practically opening the festival with this performance.
Thank you for your time.
- Thank you.
Hello, Aleksandar! Tell us something about your role in the performance Living Room.
- Hello, everyone! In the performance Living Room, I play the guy from the moving company. Also, in the second part of the performance, I play a role which does not affect the plot but helps depict the conflict in the life of the main protagonist.
How would you describe your first encounter with the director Ersan Mondtag, and what was your cooperation like?
- The first encounter was a disaster. (laughs) My character was introduced later and Ersan did it on the go. And he, actually, didn’t know which actor was going to play that. He described the character, and the theatre chose me. So, when we first met at Vesna Čipčić’s, he thought I was her butler. That totally clipped my wings and wounded my ego, so I abhorred the process. But then, I had a chance to learn from the process that performance is above anything else, and that we have to curb our egos, our vanities, and to do everything for a higher cause.
The process was short but technically extremely demanding. Rehearsals would last for five hours, and I’ve never seen people so focused, so in the moment. Ersan demanded everyone to be there: dressers, costume designers, everyone, because what we are creating is a collective work of art. I realized and learned that it is not just the actors that matter but that stage designers, stage workers, prompters, everyone is equally important. I realized that without the crew and their dedication and work, we were nothing, and Ersan managed to gather us all and create a wonderful thing.
We didn’t have reading rehearsals, the process was based on improvisations, but Ersan was focused on the bigger picture and always able to explain what, why and how. Once I had explanations for everything, I could accept everything. Ersan came fully prepared, and our task was just to enter the situation.
I know this is your first participation at Bitef Festival, so please tell me what Bitef means to you and how do you understand the slogan Edge of the Future?
- I’ve always linked Bitef to joy and excitement. I knew that at least one night would bring something extraordinary. For me, that has always been a fair of madness (and I’m someone who grew up in amusement parks and at fairs). Bitef gives us an opportunity to see world performances of the highest quality, to see how others think, work, and develop.
After the isolation caused by the coronavirus pandemics, especially from the point of view of actors, artists, who could not do their job, we realized that we are constantly at some kind of edge. On the other hand, sometimes you have to go over the edge in order to see what the future might bring.
I hope the future will bring something great to you, break a leg tonight, and enjoy the rest of the festival.
- Thanks a lot.