We caught Ivan Medenica, the artistic director, and Filip Vujošević, the festival dramaturge on the first central press conference of 52nd Bitef.
52nd Bitef under the title World Without Us will take place from 13th to 22nd September, so we ask them about this year's title, selection, challenges and favorites.
How do you explain this year's title World Without Us?
Ivan: Title World Without Us relates to the topic we are dealing with, ranging from the world without the right people, Europe and the whole world, which quickly and drastically turns towards extreme right movements, xenophobia, racism, and authoritarian regimes. But we also want to talk about the phenomenon of death, not only social death and decadence, but also biological death. So, this title covers a range from the general to the individual and the intimate.
The name was not thoughtfully ahead. Filip and I have watched a great number of performances. Somehow, through watching we saw that many world artists are dealing with this problem and that it is some sort of experience of the world today. Indeed, we all individually feel some kind of misgiving, discomfort and fear from the future. No one can say with certainty that there will be no cataclysm of global proportions. History does not repeat, as Heraklit said - no man ever steps in the same river twice. However, many wise people have already made some analogies with the world of the Weimar Republic and the world before the Second World War.
Filip: World Without Us because we believe that this title combines two aspects of this year's selection - thematic and artistic. The theme of this year's festival is the growing presence of the right populist regimes in the world. In that sense, speaking of a world without people, we are talking about the danger that the political situation will lead to an apocalypse that would also result in the physical disappearance of people. You know, I'm saying this in a hyperbolic form , but I think you can understand me.
The second aspect is that artistic side, in which a certain part of the selection deals with theatrical installations without live actors on the scene. We have performaces without people on the scene in a literal sense. Taking into account all of this, we think that this title includes both segments of the festival.
Do you have favorite from this year's selection?
Ivan: All my children are dear to me (laugh). Okay, I'll pick one - the Israeli performance PA’AM directed by Israeli musician, light designer and director Nadav Barnea. I chose this play because Bitef always tends to promote young authors, just like Ersan Montag last year.
Filip: I would choose the performance NO43 Filth because this performance could be very interesting to the audience of Bitef in a performative sense.
What is Bitef for you?
Ivan: This year's Bitef responds to my experience of the world in which we live, my sense of fear, misgivings and discomfort. I'm saying misgivings because these problems are present and obvious as this gorilla on a Bitef's poster.
Professionally, I think that in the third year of my mandate, together with Filip, I managed to make a dramaturgy of the festival that is truly flawless. Each performance has its place with a reason. I could even make a musical score of this dramaturgy, which is also creative work. I can't deny it is important that good performances are shown, but it seems to me that for every curious person, this conceptual series and the dramaturgy of the festival is something of extra quality.
Filip: Professionally, Bitef for me means a lot of work. On a professional level, Bitef is a big challenge for me, because I think that this year's selection and Ivan's concept are the most complete and finest so far. In that sense, it was a great challenge to conclude the selection and tell Ivan's very sophisticated thesis from the beginning to the end without the dramatic holes.