LETTERS, NOT ABOUT THE WAR
The older I get, the more interested I am in points of view - of women, children, the sick, the deserters and others who are silent or silenced. Thus, I here include parts of my letters and my poems from the year of 1992, when I was fifteen, when I was a citizen of FR Yugoslavia and attended a class of 34 students, 17 of whom were refugees. The time when I was more silent than today. Or louder?
(...) My parents think I missed school because I was sick. But actually, I had dreamt of dead soldiers, neatly aligned on asphalt, and of a booklet that explains how to do that. There is a difference in laying out male and female bodies, I know that now. It is unacceptable for a truck to go over parts of dead bodies after the rifles have formalized the holes from which the blood should effuse. The sight reminded me of a scene from a Bertolucci film (…)
I wanted to remove a body from the asphalt
and let the blood remain where it should be
I wanted to cover the eyes with a cloth
and let the gaze remain where it is should be
I put on a dress, white, and go to a field
the scissors are not sharp enough to cut off a part of consciousness
I walk through grass
at the hem of my dress
If I. had not visited me this morning (and you are supposed to talk when you have company), perhaps I would not have remembered the dream from the pervious night. I would have gone to school and sat in the descriptive geometry class, and my mind would have been clouded with tiredness and less clear. I once thought about asking you to return my letters, but I wasn’t able to explain that I only wanted to remind myself of some images from my own head. Now I say, let them remain where they are. Let them wait for me to grow into a Margarita (?...)
What’s real are my nightmares, while daylight and coal on my fingers, a cigarette on a school recess and human faces around me are an arranged world that offers a possibility for illusion of colourfulness. Reality, or the darkness of a room where I try to sleep, is a space without refuge from restlessness, from fear. At the thought of the upcoming night, I start to pamnick. A nurse is (etymologically) someone who nourishes. Well, I need one (…)
P.S. V says hello. She says you seemed sad when you called from the military camp yesterday (…)
My spleen and my nightmares are a Poeian and Buñuelian life as well. The life I like. Just like Ivan Karamazov (?) I find myself thinking about dead artists and I feel a strange closeness to them. One cannot just bump into someone on the street and say, “I’m afraid, I’m joyous, I live… just like you (…)
I went to see the school psychologist again, to talk to her about my dreams. At the end of the session, I admitted that I only wanted to skip the history class.
Anđelka Nikolić (1977) graduated from the Department of Theatre and Radio Directing at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts and from the Department of French Language at the Faculty of Philology in Belgrade. Nikolić directed about thirty plays in theatres in Serbia and Slovenia, for children and adults, both in institutional and independent theaters, and ten radio dramas. She has participated in all significant theatre festivals in the country and in the region. Her productions have been awarded in Sterijino Pozorje Festival (Workers Die Singing), Serbian Professional Theatres Festival (Negri), Zvezdarište and the Independent Production Festival (Epic Games: the Building of Skadar), Theatre Autumn Festival Vršac (German Shepherd). She is a laureate of the Annual Award of the Little Theatre “Duško Radović” (The Boy Who Says Yes/The Boy Who Says No) and the award at Pika’s Festival in Velenje (Pippi Longstocking). For her staging of Charlotte, she won the Award for Artistic Bravery at the Festival PatosOffiranje in Smederevo. She represented Slovenia at the Festival “Best from the East” in Vienna (You Haven’t Forgotten, You Only Don’t Remember Any More). She is a translator from French and English. She is a member of the Executive Board of the ASSITEJ Centre Serbia. She was a cofounder of the art group Hop.la! which produces independent artistic projects and events. She started the ONTD (Organisation of Nice Theatre Directors), an international and intercontinental organisation of theatre directors.
A WORD BY THE DRAMATURGE
Are You for Security?
“SECURITY and US--that’s the foundation and the
entire grammar of political -police language . Other
words and other grammatical forms adjust to and
are determined by SECURITY and US. SECURITY/US
bears no interpretation, analysis, or alternative
presentation. The question “whose security “ comes
from another language, and that second language is
alien and hostile and directed against US.”
B. Jovanović, Are You for Security, 1988
In her work Woman, Nationalism and War, published in Paris in 1995, Rada Iveković focuses on the fact that in local communication the speech holds a position of power (WE of the politicians), by citing Pierre Achard and linguistic use of ‘expanded we’, which Achard relates to nationalism. According to him, the notion of nationalism appears when there is some problem between the practical politics and its citizenry, “...when an expanded “we” considers that it deserves its own state, different from the one it is in”. Starting from there , Iveković reiterates that not every “we” need be a national “we”, and yet at the times of crisis when a national identity emerges, it is felt as a “we .” By analyzing the relationship between the politicians and the nationally expanded “we”, she states that although women are in general and abstractly addressed by the nationally expanded “we ,” the whole grammar , linguistic structure , and syntax make it clear that women do not belong to the model of the dominant subject of the speaker. Even in the case of an expanded “we” used by a speaker in power to include not only men but also women, the two will not be included in the same manner.“ ž
Women always imperfectly belong and belong with specific, not general, characteristics - as mothers of (unknown) soldiers, as nurses - and if they “belong” to the enemy, as whores good only to be raped (and wanting it). Given that men, wanting it). Given that men, under the guise of neutrality and universality, are the main agents of nationalism, women’s incorporation in it is always subordinate. This is also why “we, women” cannot be a credible political project from the standpoint of traditional politics and thinking, in which the male model has won globally, being taken as that which is universal and neutral. Within that model, women do not stand a chance.”
Or, as Maruša Krese’s states in the performance, when her colleagues, the “nationally aware” writers, accuse her of not understanding the situation in Slovenia, she states, “I don’t understand anything about politics, because I am a woman? I do somewhat understand emotions, since I work as a therapist. I have to keep my feet firmly on the ground, I have three children.” On October 31st 2000, the United Nations issued the Security Council Resolution 1325 – Women, Peace, and Security. The 18 clauses of the Resolution focus on four key areas – female participation in decision making in peace -making processes, gender awareness and training in peace building, protection of women, introduction of gender awareness in UN reports and implementation of their programmes. There are quite a few analysis regarding implementation of the Resolution and its results. Statements citing success are numerous, practical successes are hard to spot. Do we feel secure while we listen to statements about security of the country or the nation? Dissolution of Yugoslavia in bloody wars of the 1990 s is an example how security agencies (both civil and military ones ) have not primarily been formed, nor have continued their activities, for the sake of security of citizens. They have exclusively protected the centres of power, as they do to this day. Performance Are You for Security? unveils, names and deconstructs various mechanisms of declared (male ) security in the period of the beginning of breakup of Yugoslavia (1987 – 1992 ), when the most savage devastation, deaths, suffering and forced exiles were yet possible to be stopped. The performance is dedicated to those who acted, spoke in public, joined their efforts, in order to prevent rhetorics that led and inspired the madness of war, to explain to those who did not know what had been done in their name, to help the injured and the refugees, to help the suffering. The performance is dedicated to the people who knew very well that without trust and connection between people, without constant effort, the issue of security is nothing but a shiny political lie. Just like Biljana Jovanović, Maruša Krese, Radmila Lazić and Rada Iveković did. It is dedicated to all individuals who, like Maruša Krese, are not afraid to respond to the question, “Am I afraid?” with a resounding NO. The perofrmance is dedicated to all those people who have felt the volatile breakup of the country as failure.
I did not aim, nor have I been aimed at,
I did not liberate and conquer towns and villages.
I did not cast spell, I did not offer advice,
I did not write patriotic poetry.
I did not give birth to a hero.
My contribution to history – insignificant!
I have nothing to say in my defence.
I Am Guilty, R. Lazić, 1996
Dramaturge and Playwright
Branislava Ilić was born in Niš in 1970, where she finished High School for Acting. She graduated from the Department of Dramaturgy at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts in Belgrade. Her first professional engagement (both as an actress and as a dramaturge) was in the National Theatre in Niš. In period between 2008 and 2010, she worked as a dramaturge in the National Theatre in Belgrade. Theatres where she worked as an associate in productions are the Serbian National Theatre, Atelier 212, Theatre “Toša Jovanović” Zrenjanin, Kruševac Theatre, Pulse Theatre Lazarevac, Zvezdara Theatre, Madlenianum, Croatian National Theatre Ivan pl. Zajc- Rijeka, Bitef Theatre, Youth Theatre Dadov. As a dramaturge, she worked on more than thirty productions. In the National Theatre in Belgrade, she worked on Vitamins by V. Jon, directed by F. Grinvald, Death and the Dervish by M. Selimović, adapted and directed by Egon Savin, New Calvaria by S. Basara, directed by Kokan Mladenović, The Animal Kingdom by R. Schimmelpfennig, directed by Ksenija Krnajski. Ilić wrote thirteen plays, five dramatizations, around 50 radio miniatures and several screenplays for various TV formats. Her stories (for children and adults), plays and dramatizations have been published in magazines and collections. She published two collection of plays, Small Town Theatre (2007), NKC Niš, and Drame/Plays, a two-language edition, Serbian Reading Room Irig and Borislav Mihajlović Mihiz Fund (2017). Branislava’s staged plays are Street, Cane and Rope (authorship production), Crime and Discussions (directed by K. Mladenović), Stuck (D. Mihajlović), A Body (S. Bodroža), Grandma, I Don’t Want to Become a Monster (P. Štrbac), I Do Not Agree (K. Krnajski), The Fall (B. Ilić/K. Mladenović). Awards: “Jovan Sterija Popović” for play A Body at the Competition of the Sterija Pozorje Festival for new plays; “Borislav Mihajlović Mihiz” Award for playwriting; Annual Award of the National Theatre in Belgrade (dramaturgical team) and the Annual Award of the Dadov Theatre.
A woman to woman friendship is an ancient notion that, I believe, existed even at the dawn of time, when women hid themselves in a cave somewhere whispering secrets to each other, the secrets they did not dare say in front of men. This immense intimate (and not only intimate) window of communication between women is not known to men. They have been deprived of it, because they are not familiar with that form of closeness. Their field of communication is a plane of power in which they contest with each other. Male collectiveness, called brotherhood, is achieved only in regards to common interests and goals. The women do not find that necessary on everyday level in order to achieve what later feminists called sisterhood on micro plane, insisting on the need for solidarity and collaboration among women in a male centred world of living and functioning, in the world of institutional power. It is a preconceived notion that female collectiveness is comprised of only the intimate world of a woman, of stories about flowers, children, cats, or men. However, there is a difference between a male and female world. No woman, whether she be a scientist, professor, clerk, or artist, will give up on it if she is sure of her identity and integrity. Rosa Luxemburg never discarded it, even when she was in prison. She wrote to her friends about a chickadee, a lime tree or a white poplar she could see through a window of one of nine prisons in which she was incarcerated. She wrote about swallows and sparrows, about a nightingale that sang in silver voice in the middle of a dark, tempestuous evening. She wrote to her friend that she was upset when she had found a motionless butterfly in her window, that she spent days helping it recuperate, which she really did until it spread its wings and flew away. Nevertheless, connection between women does not comprise only of stories like that one, but also of “helping to spread one’s wings” for a friend who is feeling down, who needs to be reminded that better life is possible only if she opens herself to joy, if she opens her eyes for the world around her, even if it is only a small world of plants and bugs, or the sky and its changes. She, whose life was revolution wrote, “Deep down inside I feel so much more at home even in a scrap of garden like the one here, and still more in the meadows when the grass is humming with bees than at one of the party congresses. I can say that to you, for you will not promptly suspect me of treason to socialism! You know that I really hope to die at my post, in a street fight or in prison (she was killed in a street canal, author’s note). But my innermost personality belongs more to my chickadees (which she watched through her prison window while feeding them, author’s note) than to the comrades“. The Red Rosa scolds a friend for whining and feeling sorry for herself and for refusing a more aggressive approach to life, and when the friend responds that she has nothing against such an opinion, and warns Rosa that she could be hurt for it for a small gain, she furiously responds, “Oh, you miserable little mercenaries! You would be ready enough to put a little bit of ‘heroism’ up for sale, but only ‘for cash,’ even if only for three mouldy copper pennies.“ Rosa adds, “Luckily, world history, up until this point, has not been made by people like yourselves.“ Uncompromising attitude above all!
Premiere 10th June 2019/"Raša Plaović" Stage
Based on the short story by B. Jovanović Are You for Security,
the book „Wind Blows to the Midday and Turns to the Midnight“ by B. Jovanović,
M. Krese, R. Iveković and R. Lazić, a travelogue by D. Šalamun and found video footage.
Directing Anđelka Nikolić
Text dramatization Branislava lić and Anđelka Nikolić
Dramaturge Branislava Ilić
Set Design Vesna Popović
Costume Design Olga Mrđenović
Speech Dr Dejan Sredojević
Instructor for Slovenian Dr Maja Đukanović
Music Irena Popović
Stage Movement Associate Marija Milenković
Producers Ivana Nenadović and Nemanja Konstantinović
Biljana Jovanović Vanja Ejdus
Maruša Krese Sena Đorović
Radmila Lazić Milena Đorđević
Rada Iveković Anastasia Mandić
Yugoslav Army soldier – with a helmet on his head, and leaves on the helmet, David, police officer, Milan Milišić, neighbour, sergeant, protester, student Dragan Sekulić
Yugoslav Army soldier – hides weapons, a poet, supporter of Slovenia secession,
territorial army soldier Saša, police officer, Milan Milišić, Serbian poet, soldier from Bosnia,
a patient protestor, student, nurse assistant Nemanja Stamatović
National Security officer, Yugoslav Army soldier – surrounded by citizens, poet and
supporter of Slovenia secession, police officer, Milan Milišić, Serbian poet, prisoner of war,
airport employee, protestor, student Petar Đurđević*
Poet and supporter of Slovenia secession, police officer, Milan Milišić,
president of the Serbian Writers’ Association, prisoner of war, officer of the Department of
Foreign Citizens, protestor, student Dragan Petrović*
National Security officer, Yugoslav Army soldier – between two friends, poet and supporter of Slovenia secession, police officer, Milan Milišić, Serbian poet, boy-soldier, prisoner of war, municipality officer, protestor, student Stojša Oljačić*
Yugoslav Army soldier – exits a burning tank, poet and supporter of Slovenia secession, police officer, Milan Milišić, a doctor in a Berlin hospital, Serbian poet, prisoner of war, police department clerk, student who reads the proclamation Vukašin Jovanović*
National Security officer, Yugoslav Army soldier, poet and supporter of Slovenia secession, police officer, Milan Milišić, Serbian writer, prisoner of war, MD Rokavina, protestor, student Lazar Nikolić*
* Students of the Faculty of Dramatic Arts in Belgrade
**Student of the Academy of Arts in Belgrade
Stage Manager Miloš Obrenović
Prompters Dušanka Vukić and Maša Radulović
Assistant Director Nikola Isaković
Assistant Set Designer Damjan Paranosić
Producer in Training Alisa Radovanac**
Light Operater Srđan Mićević
Make-up Marko Dukić
Stage Crew Chief Branko Perišić
Sound Operater Tihomir Savić
Video projection Video Studio NT
SETS AND COSTUMES WERE MANUFACTURED IN THE NATIONAL THEATRE WORKSHOPS