The main programme will present nine performances by some of the leading authors of European and world theatre from Germany, Belgium, Mexico, France, Serbia, Slovenia, and the United Kingdom. The festival will be held under the slogan We - the Heroes of Our Own Labour and will focus on the topic of labour in the contemporary world, labour laws, the labour market after the pandemic, but also the issue of labour in the performing arts.
The festival director, Miloš Latinović, opened the conference by stating that the 56th Bitef has, in a way, already begun. The festival Cirkobalkana, one of the traditional side programmes, dedicated to contemporary circus, marks its tenth anniversary, and has already been opened in Luka Belgrade. He also reminded members of the press that the main programme would begin on 23rd September with the Prologue, and the performance (Not) the End of the World by the theatre Schaubühne from Berlin, directed by the famous Katie Mitchell, and that the grand festival opening will take place on 25th September by the performance authored by one of the most famous choreographers nowadays, Jan Martens, any attempt will end in crushed bodies and shattered bones.
Bitef artistic director, Ivan Medenica, said that the 56th Bitef will be attended by the largest number of foreign guests so far, more than 500 of them! Most of them are the participants of the plenary meeting of one of the biggest European theatre networks IETM. They will also have an opportunity to see the showcase organized particularly for them, and which is conceived as a platform that can make local theatre more visible to international audiences, and more easily placed abroad. Medenica placed central focus on the side programme Yugofuturism, which consists of the presentation of the special edition of the Slovenian journal “Maska” and the international conference on that topic. The concept of Yugofuturism is a utopian, futuristic projection of the possibility of a common cultural space from the point of view of the generation born when Yugoslavia fell apart, and who are not burdened with nostalgia. In the end, Medenica presented the 56th Bitef jury, which consists of dramaturge and theatre curator Stefanie Carp (Germany, the president), theatre critic Christine Doessel (Germany), director Selma Spahić (Bosnia and Hercegovina), actress Vanja Ejdus (Serbia), and the playwright and the dramaturge Dino Pešut (Croatia).
The producer of the main programme Ksenija Đurović talked about the IETM meeting, stating that the topic of the conference is linked to the topic of the festival, focusing on the issue of labour law in performing arts, under the slogan Work Hard, Live Harder! The opening session will be held by Tomislav Medak from Zagreb, under the name “Dance Against Work”, and the event will be live-streamed on howlround.com.
Đurović also mentioned that the tickets for most of the main programme performances have been almost sold out. A small number of tickets can still be purchased, due to the fact that many performances will be shown more than once.
The festival is traditionally supported by the Secretariat for Culture of the City of Belgrade and the Ministry of Culture and Information of the Republic of Serbia, as well as the Delegation of EU to Serbia, the Goethe Institute, the British Council, the French Institute in Belgrade, and the Embassy of Slovenia. Bitef’s partner and friend is I&F Grupa, and McCann Beograd, the creative agency of the festival. The partners of the festival are Pošta Srbije and Generali Osiguranje Srbija, as well as a yearlong friend of the festival, Coca-Cola Hellenic Srbija, Alma Quattro, general hospital Bel Medic, Halo Creative Team, Docker Brewery & Beer Garden. We are particularly grateful to all the restaurants and food and beverage companies who are with us again this year.