Conquering freedom

/, Theatre/Film, Blesok no. 19/Conquering freedom

Conquering freedom

The second argument, that of the extraordinary interests that some of the newest Macedonian plays have sparked outside of Macedonia, is best exemplified by the case of Dejan Dukovski, especially in the part connected to his best known play Powder Keg (produced in 1994 on the stage of the Macedonian National Theater. The Macedonian National Theater is the oldest but also the most formal Macedonia theater institution, which, based on its classic central-European model of theater organization (which, in the meantime, has fallen out of favor everywhere except the former socialist countries!), is composed of three parts: drama, opera, and ballet. Founded in 1945 by a decree of the Macedonia government, this theater from the very beginning was burdened with the serious cause of being representative in every sense of the word (in Skopje directed by Sasho Milenkovski, born 1963). This simply perfect construction of 11 pictures, or 11 dramatic situations – 11 relatively independent anecdotal “happenings”, which in this tight/unbreakable vise connect characters who continually pass from one situation to the other – seemingly playing with one of the most mythical, and for that matter one of the most enduring motifs at all evil. By staging this eternal motif in 11 masterfully subversive dramatic situations, set exclusively in trivial/substandard ambiance (cafe’s, side streets, trains, buses, life boats, cheap American hotel, prison …), Dukovski provokes the eternal truth with the eternity of evil. The existentialist Sartre may have entrusted us with the powerfully comforting thesis that hell is a product of others, of those around us, but the generations which no longer believe in eternal values and sacrosanct truths, neither ask to be pardoned for their responsibility for their own actions, and are at the same time sufficiently courageous to admit that they themselves created this hell. Evil resides within us. And to admit that because it is thus and will so remain, the only self defense against evil is to make new evil!
In the Dukovski’s play, Europe and the rest of the world recognized and affirmed exactly that eternal spiral of evil, and recognized not only in the Balkans, as one of those accursed chronotopes which (ostensibly) this spiral which has the strength of gravity. Evil is everywhere: in Chechnya, in Ireland, in Columbia, in the neo-fascist movements in European cities, in the anti-aboriginal campaigns in Australia… For this reason, Dukovski’s play is performed everywhere.

* * *

The fact that the youngest Macedonian dramatists is in fact an entirely new and completely different generation of theater-people is best shown by the fact that they are hedonistically enjoying tremendous advantages which their predecessors could not have even imagined, and have created a completely new and different dramatic discourse.
The advantages enjoyed by the generation represented by Venko Andonovski, Saško Nasev, Žanina Mirčevska, Jugoslav Petrovski and Dejan Dukovski (there are others, but since they are not included in this selection, I have not mentioned them here), is the direct result of many things: of solid and systematic education in dramaturgy, both theoretical and practical, with which they happily benefitted from in the right period of its development; from a high degree of information on any and everything right at this moment which is happening in the world; from the possibility to momentarily and intensively communication (even if it is “only” virtual!) with every sensation happening in the world, aesthetic or otherwise; from the fundamentally changed relations toward the works, and towards the creative works and towards aesthetic values, from which their limitless artistic freedom is a direct result…
Besides that which entails a completely different “freed” relation toward the themes, motifs, ideas and ideologies, dramatic forms, the voice and body on the stage, the theater space, all theatrical conventions and in general, towards theater as a medium, these crisis dramatists have a different, “freed,” relationship to writing. As distinct from their predecessors, whose plays always strove to “tell” or to “show” something important (or at least relatively so), these dramatists raise high their utter conviction that in writing for theater (as in all things in this world) one must behave simply, easily and “without obligations”.
Just like towards one more” limitless play of indeterminate meaning”…
Regardless of the “stories” which are formally set up in separated examples, regardless of whether they are brutal, sentimental, existential, fairy tale-like, mythical.. the youngest generation of Macedonian drama lives only from its own difference: from its different relation to the theater, but also from a different relation which theater has towards it.
In general, both Macedonian and Balkan contemporary (postmodern, crisis, post-postmodern…) drama is becoming more and more interesting for European theaters. This is proven by the examples of the Croat Slobodan [najder, who is often performed in German-speaking countries (and is almost completely absent from his homeland, Croatia!) or the Bulgarian Christo Bojchev, whose work was the most frequently performed in the Czech Republic in the 1999/2000 season, or the Macedonians Petrovski and Dukovski, and even the veterans Stefanovski or Plevneš, who have written their newest texts in foreign languages (English, French), to be self-translated later into their mother tongue; or the Skopje Roma Theatre “Pralipe,” which has for six years been working successfully in Muhlheim and Berlin, Germany, representing itself as an established German theater in other European theaters.
Why then such a wider, definitely pro-western and definitely magnanimous interest for such small and distant national theaters, and what’s more, ones that are suspiciously Balkan? (The Balkans a traditionally neuralgic and a traditionally suspicious European destination!). Is it for only the momentarily (and unfortunately) present situation in the cursed Balkan area? Perhaps it has to do with the trends infecting Europe and the world wit the coquettish behavior of multiculturalism and interculturalism, by which the Balkans could once again play an important role as the “ethnological museum of Europe” as Maria Todorova claims? Or is it because of material fatigue” which for the past several decades the larger European theater centers exhibited, following blindly after anything new, anything newer, something different, something different than Pinter, Stoppard, Handke, Coltes? It is interesting to note that the last time that something new/different for Europe was brought there by immigrants: the Irishman Beckett, Armenian Adamov and the Balkan Ionesco!
So as it stands, one thing is sure: the drama and theater relations which are now established between Europe and the Balkans are no longer one-sided, rather communication is moving in both directions, and perhaps it is even more intensive in the Balkans to Europe direction than Europe to Balkans.

Translated by: Paul M. Foster, Jr.

Works Cited
1. Chausidis, Nikos, 1996, “Dijahroniskoto kompariranje na religiskite i na etnokulkulturnite procesi na pochvata na Makedonija,” in Religiite i relligiskite aspekti na materijalnata i duhovnata kultura na pochvata na Republika Makedonia, G. Stardelov (ed), Skopje: Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts (MANU).
2. Derrida, Jaques, 1976, Gramatologija, Sarajevo: V. Maslesha.
3. Epstejn, Mihail, 1998, Postmodernizam, Belgrade.
4. Fiske, John, 1995, “Popular culture,” in Critical Terms for Literary Study, Lentricchia, F. and T. McLaughlin (eds.), Chicago.
5. Lessing, Gotthold Ephraim, 1950, Hamburgische Dramaturgie, Leipzig.
6. Lužina, Jelena, 1996, Makedonskata nova drama, Skopje.
7. Nietzsche, Friedrich, 1960, Radjanje tragedije, Zagreb.
8. Todorova, Maria, 1997, Imagining the Balkans, New York: Oxford University Press.
9. Ubersfeld, Anne, 1982, Chitanje pozorishta, Belgrade: V. Karadzic
10. Williams, Raymond, 1961, The Long Revolution, London.

2018-08-21T17:23:48+00:00 February 1st, 2001|Categories: Theory, Theatre/Film, Blesok no. 19|0 Comments