"Life and art equally convincingly support the Chinese proverb Everything is connected with everything." A butterfly flaps its wings in Madagascar, a storm begins in Belgrade, at least on stage," said Drašković, who was a member of the Initiative Board and a member of the jury of the first Bitef in 1967.
Looking back on the decades-long history of Bitef, which he calls a celebration of new theater, Drašković recalled some of the key performances that the festival hosted. He mentioned just some of the big names that visited Bitef - from Yuri Ljubimov and Andrzej Wajda to Peter Brook and Robert Wilson to Ingmar Bergman and Samuel Beckett. You can read his speech in full here.
At the very end, he announced the play "Children of the Sun", which was produced by the German theater Schauspielhaus Bochum. The play by award-winning Slovenian director Mateja Koležnik brings a new reading of Maxim Gorky. With the excellent costumes of Ana Savić Gecan and the extraordinary stage design by Raimund Orfeo Voigt, the play brings the protagonists closer to the modern audiences that live in a world defined again and again by crises.
Before the opening, a cocktail reception was held in the Yugoslav Drama Theater organized by Bitef and the Delegation of the European Union in Serbia. On that occasion, the festival's artistic director Nikita Milivojević and the deputy head of the EU Delegation in Serbia, Plamena Halacheva, greeted the attendees.
The opening was also attended by Assistant Minister of Culture for Contemporary Creativity Radovan Jokić, State Secretary of the Ministry of Culture Miodrag Ivanović, Ambassador of Germany H.E. Anke Konrad, Ambassador of Belgium H.E. Kati Buggenhout, Ambassador of Greece H.E. Maria Levanti, Ambassador of the Czech Republic H.E. Tomaš Kuchta, Ambassador of Great Britain H.E. Edward Ferguson, Ambassador of France H.E. Pierre Koshar, Ambassador of Spain H.E. Raúl Bartolomé Molina, as well as the director of the Goethe Institute, Christoph Veldhues, cultural attaché of the French Institute, Caroline Sotta, director of the British Council, Clare Sears, director of the Austrian Cultural Forum, Amadeus Faltheiner, director of the Czech House, Lucy Orbock, chancellor of the University of the Arts in Belgrade, Mirjana Nikolić, dean of the Faculty of Dramatic Arts Miloš Pavlović, former artistic director of Bitef Ivan Medenica, directors Bojan Đorđev and Jug Đorđević, managers of numerous theaters, as well as the stars of the local theater Milena Vasić, Tamara Krcunović, Vladimir Aleksić...
The very next day, October 5, the audience can expect the opening of the Bitef polyphony side programme, as well as a lecture by Prof. Ana Vujanović, PhD, while the play Goodbye, Lindita of the National Theater of Greece will be performed on the "Mira Trailović" stage of the Atelje 212 Theater. The young director Mario Banushi received numerous praises for his touching portrayal of Balkan traditions and customs related to the death of loved ones, and Belgrade is the very first stop of the big tour on which this play is embarking. Friday at Bitef marks two domestic productions "Desire to Make a Solid History Will End Up in Failure" in the Bitef theater and "All Adventurous Women Do" in Atelier 212. Tickets can be bought through the festival website, and at the Bitef box office at on the first floor of the MTS hall, as well as before the beginning of the performances at the box office of the venues.
The festival has traditionally been supported by the Secretariat for Culture of the City of Belgrade and the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia, as well as the Delegation of the European Union to Serbia, the Goethe Institute, the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, and the Embassy of Greece. New Moment New Ideas Company, the festival's creative agency, is a partner and friend of Bitef. Festival partners this year are Generali Insurance Serbia, Erste Bank a.d. Novi Sad, as well as the friends of the Coca-Cola Hellenic Serbia festival, 1664 Blanc and Somersby, Rajićeva Shopping Center, Alma Quattro, Info media group, Acibadem Bel medic, the "Every Can Counts" programme, Ekostar pak, Vulkan publishing house, as well as Halo Creative team.