Dramaturgy and adaptation
Oct 8 / 8 pm / Princely Serbian Theatre
Production: Jazavac City Theatre, Banja Luka / Republic of Srpska – Bosnia and Herzegovina
Duration: 80 min
Photography: Aleksandar Čavić
Director about the performance:
How we have survived democracy and laughed all the while
Our Assembly was created based on the text of the contemporary Spanish play Family Council (2013) by Cristina Clemente. We took the frame of the story about a family that makes all its decisions through a family council meetings, and votes on the most banal decisions such as the dishwashing schedule, the menu, the purchase of an iPad... But we wanted Life with a capital L to imbue it. And to become ours. Because the text opens a deeper question: how to raise children to be responsible and honorable people in this world? All the burden of any political change remains on the shoulders of the next generation of "young people" - will they change society for the better? And why would they? The gap between social theories and everyday practices is widening. Or it has always stayed the same. Everyday practices in these areas have always had a singular goal – survival. How we have survived democracy and laughed all the while, to paraphrase Slavenka Drakulić, is the best subtitle for this play.
AN ORIGINAL SATIRE WITH NUMEROUS TRAGICOMEDIC ELEMENTS
Catalan author Cristina Clemente graduated in dramaturgy and directing at the Institute of the Arts in Barcelona, but despite being involved in directing, she prioritizes her writing, not only for theater but also for film and television. For one of the first dramatic texts, I want to go to Tibidabo (Volem anar al Tibidabo), she won the Barcelona Critics' Award in 2009. As one of the co-authors, she was awarded in 2011 for the best screenplay for a Catalan film, and was nominated for the Spanish national Goya Award for the film Eva, directed by Kike Maillo. Although there have been more awards, probably more important was the popularity gained by her theatre comedies. Through humor, they have connected almost stereotypical family relationships with social reality. This probably contributed to her involvement as a screenwriter in a string of TV series, and beyond the borders of her homeland, those comedies have had the greatest resonance, because the author's insight into the heart of family relationships allowed her plays to be adjusted and adapted to other environments.
Banja Luka dramatist Ivana Stjepanović, the author of the adaptation of Clemente's Family Council (Consell familiar, 2013), placed a comedic familial paraphrase - the functioning of a contemporary political democracy, in her own environment (which shares many similarities with situations in other countries of the region) among the four members of a very poor family, finding essential elements of humor in the unexpectedness of the situation, because among such people one would sooner expect patriarchy than democracy. They decided a long time ago that all important decisions (from decorating the apartment to the schedule of daily chores and even the menu) will be made at family councils, and the play begins with Branko, the father of the family and council president, resigning, because he is no longer able to provide money for the essential things - from food and so on.
He is successfully portrayed by Aleksandar Stojković, acting with equal conviction as a phoney upright democrat and as an autocrat who conceals his belief that no one else in the family is capable of replacing him. However, everyone else is dying to take his place, because even in that miserable situation they see (like most politicians do) an opportunity to gain some personal benefit, so they organize the presentation of their own programmes and try to bribe potential voters. Nataša Ivančević very energetically portrays Branko's wife Žana, who knows the least, but is the most confident of victory, because she counts on the support of her two adult children, even though she was the first president to financially ruin the family.
However, her chances are not slim, because the facts are often forgotten during the voting, and deciding on the candidate is done on the basis of promises that, of course, do not get fulfilled. The twenty-seven-year-old daughter Ana, who still sleeps in the child room, left unchanged since her early childhood years, is most aware of this. She is impressively portrayed by Anja Ilić as a modern girl who pretends to be only interested in superficial things, but knows more than she lets on and is determined to achieve her goals. While promising her feminine support to her mother, she borrows money (foreign loans play an important role in the entire region) from her German boyfriend Max (Marko Nedeljković), in order to buy a drum set for her younger brother Nemanja (played with the right dose of distortion by Senad Milanović), which is the only thing that interests him, because that way he could find a place in a local band and hang out with his peers. But as soon as he gets the drum, the promise to his sister that he would support her is no longer important to him, but instead, he wants to become the president as well.
Ivan Plazibat has obviously motivated the actors very well, who can be seen performing their roles with a lot of enthusiasm and joy, and in addition, he has accomplished a fast pace of the play that is both very entertaining and critical of the political and social practices in their environment (which does not differ from neighboring countries), realizing an original and successful satire with many elements of tragicomedy. However, the ending in which Anna's German Max, due to loans and borrowings, becomes the owner of the wretched apartment and imposes his own will on the family - apart from offering an ending with a quick twist, nevertheless detracts from the whole play because it no longer remains an iota of humor in the tragic ending in which a stranger becomes the boss, although the very type of borrowing, which is the family's fault, and the result - the acquisition of property whose value, if any, is difficult to ascertain, offer a number of possible comical elements within the framework of, up to that moment, a very successful satire.
However, the creators of the play present it as a serious issue and thus fit in with the dominant regional attitude that we have been robbed by those of other nationalities and religions, although all extensive analyzes show that it has mostly been done by our own compatriots. And all of this seems to be rooted in that joke from the days of our former state, that before the war we had nothing, and then the Germans came and took all we got.
©Tomislav Kurelec, KAZALIŠTE.hr, June 28, 2021