Liberation of Skopje by Dušan Jovanović (Matica Makedonska, 2007)
– Editor’s essay –
#1 A view up to the lifework of Dušan Jovanović (1939), its limits, views on his widely various theatrical and wider opus, his linkage and significance with/for Skopje, are the light-motive for the book Liberation of Skopje, subtitled as Anthology ─ game and Destiny. The book, which has the title of the most played and most highly ranked drama by Dušan Jovanović Liberation of Skopje (474 pages), I split it in four parts: Dušan Jovanović About Himself: Who am I now?, a brilliant autobiographical text and Are the Theater and Politics a Same Thing?, essay; Selected Dramas: Liberation of Skopje (translated by Gane Todorovski), Karamazovi (translated by Ilija Milčin), Top Secret (translated by Branko Varošlija), Antigone (translated by Maja Lape), The Wall, The Lake, then Exhibitionist and Karayan Ce (all translated by Lidija Dimkovska); Trialogue: theatrology works – Long and Sincere Love Relationship (Liljana Mazova), Dušan Jovanović, the Liberator of Skopje (Jelena Lužina) and A Theater that Speaks of the Man and Only of the Man (Alja Predan); Factography: Bibliography and Theatrography of Dušan Jovanović, Dušan Jovanović through photographs and Theater Plays by Dušan Jovanović played in Macedonia (seven plays staged five of his dramas). The publishing of this book was financially assisted by the Ministries of Culture of Republic of Macedonia and Republic of Slovenia, m-r Trifun Kostovski and RICO, Ltd. Ljubljana, Slovenia.
The idea for this book is by Dušan Jovanović himself, author that works on many fields: drama and theater, essays, human studies, scenario, pedagogy, etc. His plays are being translated in numerous languages, played at as many theater stages around the world and awarded at as many Festivals and Reviews. The most famous, most played, most translated and most awarded of his plays, is Liberation of Skopje. On one of ours meetings in Skopje, he simply told me about his wish to publish a book of plays in Macedonian language, at least those played in Macedonia. And that should happen a long time ago, but it just didn’t occur to anyone up to now! That should occur to someone much before, because Jovanović firmly placed Skopje at the world’s theatrical map and memory even three decades ago with his play Liberation of Skopje. That play is also memory of the part of his childhood in Skopje.
Dušan is the only child born at the marriage of Ljubomir (son of Ana Hrisafidu, Greek from Athens and of Rista Jovanović, Serb from Skulanovo near Lipljan in Kosovo) and Emilija Geber (daughter of Ferdinand from Osijek and Marija Zelenko with Croatian-German origin). Born in 1939 in Belgrade, his early years were nomadic, traveling from place to place, but definitely grown up in Ljubljana, had his education in English and Romanic and as theater director; in Ljubljana he lives, works and there he made his family. As a child, he spent some time living in Skopje. In the midst of the Second World War his family splits up, and he settles in Skopje with his grandmother Ana. They live with Zora, Ana’s daughter married to the Macedonian Georgija Potevski. They lived in the house that is at the left side of Macedonian Government building complex, on the Boulevard Kliment Ohridski No.9, today a Government property. The events and the people from his play Liberation of Skopje origin exactly from that house: from that house, from under that roof and house yard his memories has their origin, when, as a six year old child, he lives in Skopje… Those are the memories from which Dušan Jovanović in 1976/77 writes his play Liberation of Skopje.
About those times in Skopje and the imprint from that period in his life experience, Dušan Jovanović wrote (for this book):
Skopje is the place in which, during the Second World War, I’ve lived a portion of my childhood. Maybe the most beautiful and the most intimate experiences in my life – are linked to this city: anyway, the most dramatic experiences of the war, friendship and life. Skopje is the place where I saw a theatre play for the first time. My aunt Zora Potevska, who was a piano teacher, took me to the Opera – Orpheus and Euridice. That was an experience that inerasably imprinted into my being: outside, in the real world, the War was raging on, we were surrounded by pictures of destruction, fear, poverty and humiliation. But inside the theater, I suddenly experienced completely different dimension of the reality: a harmony of divine sounds, music, spirituality, brightness, illumination and beauty. In that moment I was deeply touched by the goddess Thalia and the door of the magical world of art was opened to me! It was the moment of pure destiny for me, at that moment my love for the theater was born, and it still lasts within me. My play Liberation of Skopje is the
memory of my life as a child, but also a story of my maturing, and it is – probably – my best theater play.
Officially, Dušan Jovanović is in and with the theater since 1963, when his first drama There Will Be No Play was staged. The next year, in the season of 1964/65, at the Student Actual Theater in Ljubljana he directs Plough and Stars, Jolly Game and Tiger. Through numbers, his opus is huge: written 23 dramas, directed 130 theater plays, published 5 books of essays and 1 novel, made 4 theater adaptations of world’s classical novels, few novellas, numerous TV and Radio dramas and scenarios, and has educated numerous students in acting and theater directing… The theatrologist Alja Predan (Slovenia) in her text for this book, states /… / So, comes up that this man, in his 14.600 days of creating – he hasn’t slept, eaten, made love, chased women…, shortly put – he hasn’t lived at all. And that’s not true, of course /… /. So, besides often directing his plays, he witnesses the translations of his dramas in English, German, French, Italian, Hungarian, Polish, Serbian, Croatian, Macedonian, and in other languages.
During establishing himself and his love-relationship with the theater Dušan Jovanović at first came up with radical formalist experiments. That was during the global anti-bourgeois movement, located in the 1960’s. The whole of his work at that time was interlaced and enriched by the rebellion spirit of his generation: the attack on the taboo-subjects and themes, freeing of the mind, opening of the ideological knots and junctures, making way for the more beautiful, simplified and relaxed way of life. As for instance, his well-known play from that time – Pupilia, Father Pupilio and the Little Pupilees (1969) has its subject in the popular culture (both as aesthetics and as political subversion). There, as an answer to the political truth hiding numerous trivialities as in many of his other plays: the horoscope aspects, small-talks, photo-novels, nudity and erotica.