52nd Bitef regional press conference

Regional press conference for 52nd Bitef, which will be held in Belgrade from 14th-22nd September, 2018, was held on 14th June in Satirical Theatre “Kerempuh” in Zagreb. Bitef artistic director, Ivan Medenica, presented a part of this year’s selection and the festival concept, focusing on Oliver Frljić’s performance Gorki - Alternative for Germany?, produced by Maxim Gorki Theatre from Berlin (Germany), and the performance Six Characters in Search of an Author, produced by the Satirical Theatre “Kerempuh” from Zagreb (Croatia), and directed by the same author.

This year, Bitef thematic stream presents the performances which directly criticize one, in our opinion very dangerous social phenomena typical of today’s Europe and the world. It is the strengthening of right-wing populism, xenophobia, lack of tolerance, and authoritarian regimes which undermine democratic institutions and the system of human values, even in the states where those principles stem from, all in collaboration with the raging neoliberal capitalism. In an artistically original way, Oliver Frljić tackles his favourite subject once again in the performance Gorki - Alternative for Germany? - the social function of theatre, and its potential in political resistance. Through his typical approach, based on pseudo-documentary theatre and improvisations, Frljić explores political correctness in the process which this theatre applies in the employment of actors (giving priority to minorities) since that approach still does not reflect the true percentage of foreigners in Berlin, and opens a possibility of the creation of “theatre asylum” for ethnic and other minorities. In the second part of the performance, the stage - both metaphorically and literally - rotates for 180° thus criticizing the right wing expansion. In other words, the performance poses the question whether a progressive theatre, if it agrees to a certain ghettoization and a game within a system, represents a true resistance to the system, or simply an alibi for artists’ conscience? 

In his performance Six Characters in Search of an Author, Oliver Frljić once again directly confronts Croatian radical right wing. Although at first seemingly unusual, since the starting point is not documentary material but a famous work by Luigi Pirandello, the topic of which is not political but philosophical, Frljić strikes a blow right from the start: the actors do not prepare another Pirandello’s play, as they do in the metatheatrical introduction of this play, but are getting ready for an imaginary, improvised, satirical play, typical of Satirical Theatre “Kerempuh”, the characters of which are true protagonists of Croatian right wing.

The present journalists were addressed not only by Ivan Medenica but also by the manager of Satirical Theatre “Kerempuh”, Roman Šušković Stipanović, while the author Oliver Frljić spoke live via video link.