As an artist and a citizen of Belgrade, exposed to many troubles typical of working in culture, I recognize and cultivate one bright thought: as long as there is Bitef, Belgrade is the world. For me, Bitef is a citizen of Belgrade, a model citizen at that: conscious, critical, brave, enterprising, and responsible. It gives us, other citizens, stimulus, support, framework and guidelines that help us behave in the same way, as the citizens of the world.
The point is that Bitef uncompromisingly sees theatre as a space for thinking about some of the key social issues, and therefore initiates various programmes that lend fresh perspectives on the main festival theme. The international conference We Are Sitting on a Branch: Solidarity or Downfall is an excellent example, since this conference, dedicated to ecology as one of the themes of the festival, has in a brave, responsible and enterprising manner built a forum which has invited the participation of anyone interested in the topic of the global sustainability - scientists, philosophers, artists, citizens, state employees… - in the roles of speakers, moderators, listeners, debaters.
Over three days, a range of topics, all of which I wanted to hear, have developed discussions that provided practical examples of how public sphere is created - through sharing experiences, knowledge and ideas by the experts and practitioners from various fields - the discussions marked by directness, enthusiasm and power - supported by mutual respect, attention and trust, which is important because of the main topic, linked to the future of us all. The discussions initiated contacts and cooperation, and a good will to create a collaborative platform for joint action, and the practice of democracy.
And - democratically open. The spatial dramaturgy of the conference was consistent with the idea - it was held in Mira Trailović Square, a public space, with a minimum distance between the panellists and the listeners, in the conditions available to all the citizens who came to the square or passed by. Who passed through their city, the city returned to the citizens by Bitef.
I am happy to have been a part of this experience.