Award for Best Artistic Achievement of a Play as a Whole at “Vojdan Černodrinski” – 2003, for the play “House at the Border” of Slavomir Mrožek, directed by Yudzel Erten, Turkish Theatre – Skopje
The story “House at the Border” by Slavomir Mroźek is but a frame for the inspirational directing of Judzel Erten, which is woven from comic elements, Macedonian reality and an idea as a response to the issues treated in it. This “House at the Border”, seen from a spatial and temporal aspect, is owned by very few countries (a rare example is Cyprus). The version of Erten opens the issue of the multi-ethnic identities, Turkish, Macedonian, Albanian (even European, which has the role of a mediator). The complete play is seen from the tolerance angle, with irony and mockery of the low qualities, with respect to the differences and imminent solution, that will not result in big (neighborly) injuries. The current historical and political situation is put in the everyday theatre; the dramatic effect that is easier and (even!) most honest to be overcome by culture and art. The short plot of “House at the Border” seemingly tells a hyper-realistic, surrealistic situation when there is a border placed in the house itself, in the middle of the room. The situations that will happen in the border house are only an additional, absurd factuality. There were numerous directing situations and moments that actually gave birth to this play. For example, when the people should eat, and the bordre line is on the table itself, so you have to pay duty tax for the passing of the salt; or when you sleep in your home and some smuggler crosses the border in your bedroom; or when a child who eats is charged border crossing fee. An additional and permanent spice to this situation comes from the creative achievements of the actors, and these heroes won the awards of the “Vojdan Černodrinski” festival for their merits (this is Bedija Begovska as the mother-in-law, Atila Klinče as Man, and the award for the best young actor for Filiz Ahmet, for the role of the Girl). The completely well selected team by the director, his inventive, playful and precise solutions, with the full scale dedication shown by the team of actors won their deserved award. I would like in this context to which that you who read this could see this show without the tiresome procedures of crisis regions, visas, borders, etc.
The identity problem starts with the arrival of three polite soldiers, who put the flag in a circular position so that it is easy to turn it and at it can show someone’s territory at each moment. Here one sees the current political and national moment that the director has used to detail for the completeness of his concept. Even a bit in Brecht’s style, “hitting” he reminds us of the final ironical and cynical situation of the existing tragic (ethnic) conflicts. Even our attempt to try and say something about the play from a purely artistic concept, we have the feeling that we are haunted by the issues targeted all the time, skillfully “planted” by the director.
Bedija Begovska, in the role of the Mother-in-law has really shown the everyday irony, that always gave birth to unprecedented humor in order not to be painful. Her acting, especially her facial expressions, showed a character of a woman who is capable of finding her way, restless and always ready to handle any troubles, reacting at moments when it is necessary. In her character one can see that the veiled woman as well knows how to be tough, show resistance, prove that she can handle “male” situations, and even manage them. This was break of the ethic (Moslem) stereotypes, where the woman is always in the macho-patriarchal chains. On top of this, she showed that even a Mother-in-law knows how to be attractive, to play smart, and even be seductive. A woman who knows how to show her abilities, all the time, and especially when it is essential. Connecting to this, Atila Klinče confirmed the furiosity of the woman showing (again by breaking the stereotypes) that the smart one should listen, regardless of the gender, and in this case it is the skill of the Mother-in-law. On the other hand, he also acted the loss of the “border” man, who is insecure, first of all, in his own identity. He is unnamed, his name is Man, which is an initial label for an undefined identity. His movements: tense, confused, and inconsistent add up to the suddenness of place and space where he lives. Small and again temporary moments of sparkles of hope that this is where he is and that this is the place where he belongs get into a circular dimension again. Both characters can realistically show this absurdly realistic situation, together with the specific characteristics of their (ethnic) community, seen in a culturological way.
Filiz Ahmet, with her acting of the child’s world, showed that it could always be unsoiled, playful, naïve, unpredictable, but true! These are the moments when the child asks questions (such as the ones of the “The Little Prince”) and when the surprised looks and skillful answers of the adults do not fulfill her child’s expectations with respect to this border situation.
The complete play, seen in the content and how it was acted, bears the multi-dimensional concept, of start of differences, and then keeping them in the same whole. Therefore, the languages that were spoken in the play: Turkish, Macedonian, Albanian and English obviously carried the most precise idea of the political and ethnic equality, respect for the Other. That is why the play ended with a dance (=oro), which is the same for all neighboring nations. The so obvious idea for unavoidable tolerance, refusing any vandalistic planting (shelling) by the Other, and for caring that can only produce human virtue and greatness! I am thankful for this staging of “House at the Border”.
Translated by: Elizabeta Bakovska