This year Bitef will take place from 13 to 25 September. The double edition of the festival will consist of as many as fourteen productions in the main programme, by authors from France, Belgium, Germany, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Iran, Austria, Mexico, and Chile.
The artistic focus of the festival will be on the dehumanisation of the performer’s body in different forms: through choreographic processes, lighting and video effects, the absence of performers, their digital presence, and the use of robots and drones on stage. The pinnacle of this concept are shows in which live performers don’t even exist on stage.
The show As if the End Were Not Quite Near, by Maja Pelević (text) and Nikola Zavišić (directing), produced by Bitef Theatre, is one of four local productions in the main programme of this year’s Bitef, and certainly one of the artistically most radical ones at the festival. It takes place in a physically performative frame that could be called a spatial-visual-acoustic installation and it enables the audience, using artificial intelligence, to enter a state of a meditation (only five audience members can attend the performance) on topics raised by the apocalyptic times we live in. In the absence of performers, the audience is at the same time the passive observer and the protagonist of the play. Due to the audience size, As if the End Were Not Quite Near will be performed as many as fifteen times at Bitef, on 23, 24 and 25 September, at 12h, 14h, 16h, 18h, and 20h, at Bitef Theatre.
One of the new forms of digital theatre that has developed during the pandemic, as a reaction to the necessary physical distancing, are shows created on Zoom and similar online platforms. The project The Cherry Orchard in the Cherry Orchard, by Croatian director Bobo Jelčić, is an intelligent, humorous and touching adaptation of Anton Pavlovich Chekhov’s famous piece. The adaptation and compression of the text, which is a dramaturgical process that Jelčić regularly uses when directing Chekhov, was carried out in this case in such a way that the narrative focuses only on the crucial event: the auction and sale of the cherry orchard. This dramaturgical intervention also offers a “naturalistic” explanation for why the actors are not in the same physical space, i.e. why they meet only online. Namely, we follow the Zoom meeting where they, each from their own space, hold the last consultations before the auction of the cherry orchard, in an attempt to forestall fate. The show can be watched online from any location at the scheduled time (20h, 22 September), while for all those interested a collective viewing will be organized at the Bitef Theatre club.
Every week Bitef carries out different activities that are aimed at drawing attention to environmental issues in society. One such activity last week was the waste collection action For a Spotless Tomorrow, which took place on Mt. Fruška Gora on Friday, 13 August. The Bitef team, together with representatives of the media and local volunteers, headed to the Fruška Gora National Park and spent several hours picking up, collecting and sorting waste in the vicinity of Popovica Lake. Together with the action’s partner, the Ekostar Pak company, several kilograms of recyclable waste was collected. Following the successful action, the participants relaxed at the Gorski Smeško café, whose furnishings are made almost solely from upcycled materials. Such a practice is one of the positive examples of how we can reduce environmental pollution on a daily level, which is something that Bitef promotes through its values.
This week the focus will once again be on the importance of individual contribution to environmental preservation. Namely, Bitef is inviting all those interested in attending the Picnic organized by the Kišobran organisation, which will take place at 12h on 22 August, at the Museum of African Art. As part of the ongoing digital campaign #počniodsebe on social media, the Bitef team will encourage interested persons to join the campaign, i.e. to share on their channels examples of their own good practices where they help protect the environment, with the tag @bitef_festival and hashtag #počniodsebe, and the “reward” for such contributions will consist of free plants and a code for a 20% discount on tickets to shows in the programme of this year’s Bitef.
Ticket sales for this year’s edition of Bitef will start on 25 August. Tickets will be available online through the Bitef website, as well as at the festival’s ticket counter at the festival centre in Kombank Hall. Due to the uncertain epidemiological situation, ticket reservations will not be available this year.
The festival is traditionally supported by the City of Belgrade Secretariat for Culture and the Ministry of Culture and Information of the Republic of Serbia, the Goethe Institute, and the French Institute in Serbia, with support from Teatroskop - the regional program for performing arts of the French Institute in Paris and the French Ministry of Culture. Once again, this year Bitef’s partner and friend is I&F Group, within which the festival’s creative agency McCann Belgrade operates. The partners yet again are Erste Bank a.d. Novi Sad and long-standing friend of the festival Coca-Cola Hellenic Serbia.