About the staging of Cvijetic’s novel “Why are you sleeping on the floor”
Tenant of words
The trauma of one society, separate but much wider, and once in the time of Yugoslavia united, is a stone that is often thrown into a corner but, yet, even with peripheral vision, it is detectable as such – as inevitable. The disintegration of Yugoslavia and its bloody scenes became a stone of guilt shifted to different parties, pushed under the carpet due to the socio-political redemption of the sides of the conflict determined by European aspirations. Taking the stone, in a humanistically stripped and honest manner, and carrying it – not as a burden and not as a gesture of imposition – then to describe all its reliefs, depressions, cracks, and to feel its weight, is a skill that deserves respect, and which is preferentially possessed by – the artist. As an authentic voice of the regional literary scene, director, poet, and prose writer, Darko Cvijetic (Prijedor, 1968), is an artist who, through his multi-genre work, truly looks at human suffering, and gives life to the harsh truth. Nurturing the personal poetics of empathy and reproduction of the other, this “post-Yugoslavian writer” demolishes the tabooed thematic constructs and writes about the trauma of the war, about the family trauma but also about the general one, while looking in the face of the death. The tragedy of the individual, the clash of vitalism, and the dark shades of fate, are the dramatic elements present in the prose work of Cvijetic, which continue their path in the theater. The novel “Schindler’s Elevator” (2019), tells us a story about the tenants of the red high-rise building in Prijedor where Cvijetic himself lived, and is staged in Chamber Theater 55 in Sarajevo, directed and dramatized by Kokan Mladenović. The dramatization of this novel was awarded the Sterija prize at the 66th Sterija Theater. The successful collaboration between the writer and the director continues in the play “Why are you sleeping on the floor”, based on the 2020 novel of the same name, which premiered on September 22 at the Serbian National Theater. The play was co-produced by SNT, Gavela Drama Theater (Zagreb), National Theater in Sarajevo, and MESS Sarajevo. This time, in addition to Mladenović, the dramatization is signed by Cvijetic, Mina Petrić, Dubravka Mihanović, and the play’s ensemble, while the director’s assistant is Igor Pavlović. “He who has no home lives in words,” is one of the key refrain-repeated maxims in the novel. The world of Cvijetic’s prose goes one step further – the words live on the stage, and along with them, their creator.
What is the matter son, why are you sleeping on the floor?
To interpret the stage production of the novel, it is necessary to refer to the nature of the novel itself. The conception of Cvijetic’s work is extremely complex, considering the genre nature of the text, which, although defined as a novel, rests on a lyrical charge, style, and rules, so it is closer to poems in prose.
“Whether it is a novel – a lament, a personal contribution to the martyrology of the Bosnian war, a novel – a memorial service, an oratorio, or an elegy – is not so important for a text that represents a sincere and original effort to penetrate the metaphysical heart of human suffering. It is an attempt at an anthropological study of the phenomenon of evil expressed through a poetic form” (Lopandić 2021: 85)
However, the mentioned meta-level of perception of the crime is related to the actual one. The polyphonic structure of the text and the often-repeated epistolary form contributes to the impression of credibility and documentary. Namely, the author interweaves the fiction with the solid, personal family story that centers around the Bota’s brother and the beginning of the war. Bota, in the beginning, being a military policeman in the JNA in Viktor Bubanj’s barracks in Sarajevo, becomes a prisoner; more precisely, a soldier deprived of the knowledge on whose side he will fight. The soldier’s story is intertwined with the family story. By giving voice to others, Cvijetic tries to present the truth to all its extent, but it is of a different kind: “Even from this book too, you will not learn the historical truth. You will gain a much more valuable insight – how the victims feel. While writing about death, Darko Cvijetic fights for every life.” (Avdić 2020: 110). The novel “Why do you sleep on the floor” honors the victims and once again points out that forgetting is a crime, and it is surrounded by a constant emotional charge that necessarily leads to cathartic awareness, and ultimately says that the story applies to every reader.