At the very beginning of the discussion, Minja Bogavac pointed out that the performances which await us at this Bitef are very interesting and inspirational, and from various countries. Moreover, she stated that they really are linked to our notion of the future, and that Living Room represents the most appropriate introduction.
The discussion informed us about the trilogy that Living Room belongs to. The first part of the trilogy followed the life of an Afro-Belgian woman in real time - the seventy minutes of the performance. The first part is followed from the end towards the beginning. Working on it, Mondtag addressed the colonial times in Belgium and the imposed narratives which objectify certain races, in this case Afro-Belgians, as victims. In Living Room, we are also following the life of a woman, an artist, opera singer, who loses the love of her life. Here we follow the life of a woman over forty years. In both parts, the protagonists end their lives in suicide. Mondtag emphasised that women are the biggest victims of any war, which is an idea supported also in Living Room, whose main protagonist cannot cope with the death of her beloved husband who was in the military. And everything started in a short sentence which changed everything: “Tito died!”. The third part, which is in the making, will explore the topic of racism among hospital staff. Mondtag mentioned the basic fear of doctors that minority groups suffer from, which is in a way innate, and shared by his parents who immigrated from Turkey. There is this persistent fear that a physician might be a racist, unwilling to provide a proper care.
The dramaturge Tijana Grumić talked about the text creation and the fact that it, in a way, was designed from the actors over the course of their joint research. To make her research more solid, Tijana frequented flea markets and found her inspiration there. The participants also analysed various motifs, the choice of the opera Tosca - opera as a deliberately chosen genre, then the paintings on the walls, painted by Katarina Ivanović, Olja Ivanjicki, and the poster for the movie Hair, as well as the mysterious numbers over the door.
You can see the entire discussion at the link provided, or Bitef YouTube channel.
Like always, we asked the audience to share their impressions
Svetlana Ceca Bojković, actress:
I liked Living Room very much. I saw the final rehearsal the other day, too, so this is the second time I’ve seen it. I think that both the director and the dramaturge did an amazing job. It is a story about a life which is gone. Naturally, it is linked to the dissolution of Yugoslavia, since neither are we that country any longer nor is the life similar to the one we used to live. It is an emotional but not a sentimental performance. And, in my opinion, the visual image of the performance, as well as acting and directing, everything is on a very high level.
Ljubica Beljanski Ristić, co-founder of Bitef Polyphony:
I find it very interesting, especially since my associates and I are currently working on the archives. We are trying to prevent something which belongs to the past and is now a part of some documents packed in some boxes from simply becoming a writing on a paper, but to turn into the archives which can be opened in a performative form too. That is what this performance is all about, and I find it exciting.
I find performances of this sort extremely important because they approach various issues which are not generally addressed in a different way. It speaks a language that is not common in theatre, the language of our lives that is hidden from everyone. Living Room possesses some kind of cinematic magic, and it has surpassed my expectations. So, I see it as an amazing introduction to Bitef, who has been focused on its own digitization lately, too.
Darko Čubrilo, lawyer and film producer:
This year’s double Bitef started with a prologue, that is with the performance Living Room. It clearly relies on the German school. Young actors are still learning their trade, while Vesna Čipčić deserves all the praise - full marks for her!