The second half of the current theatre season kicks off in January offering something for everyone. Here is a sampling of plays with a Norwegian connection, either because the author is Norwegian or the performance was supported by Norway:
1. Rosmersholm, Belgrade Drama Theatre
This masterpiece of the great Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen (1828 – 1906) who analyzed moral deficiencies of the modern society in his plays, was written in 1886 and is one of his psychological dramas in which he focuses on an individual and his fate.
Johannes Rosmer, a former pastor and a descendant of a prominent family, decided to break with the previous life and to start a struggle for a better society. Rebecca West, who has seeded these new ideas to Rosmersholm, is his partner on the way.
Refusing to follow one political option, convinced that parties are poisoned by personal gain, they become enemies in their community and the target of political intrigue and manipulation, which eventually leads to their questioning on a personal level.
The play abounds in philosophical ideas, ideas of Nietzsche and Schopenhauer. It also gradually exposes prejudices, questions and dilemmas, true and other than true relations among people. It reveals the mechanisms of media and political manipulation of the democratic and capitalist society, by speaking of the death of politics and the great personal struggle for ideals, as well as exploring the collective feeling of apathy, hopelessness and belonging.
2. Hedda Gabler, National Theatre in Belgrade
Another Ibsen’s play which was written more than a hundred and twenty years and still manages to provoke full intellectual and emotional involvement of a viewer – as if it has just been written.
As an outstanding critic of family and social issues of his time, Ibsen focuses his attention on the individuality of a young woman and creates a moving drama of identity crisis. Depressed, frustrated, and a supporter of patriarchal social values and relationships, Ms. Hedda Gabler is a direct victim of the same.
She is a woman with tragic life; she makes a series of wrong decisions based on social circumstances, essential issues, heritage and relentless economic battle for status… Everything Hedda wants is a personal, existential feeling of purpose, “an act of bravery”.
3. Volvo Trucks, Atelje 212
The famous 2005 novel of the Norwegian writer Erlend Loe has been turned into a play. In “Volvo Trucks,” (Volvo lastvagnar) we follow Doppler, as he continues his exciting journey from the previous novel of the same name. Driven to the edge by the pressure of modern life, this ordinary man has left his family and home and decided to find a meaning of his life in the woods.
This time, Doppler swapped forests with two Swedish households and the play centers around two seemingly totally different characters, who lure Doppler into their strange webs. However, Doppler is far from feeling alone and he even seems to be the most normal among the unusual characters he encounters on the way.
With Doppler turning his back on the society, the play represents a satirical criticism of a modern society and contemporary capitalism.
4. Abused, Belgrade Drama Theatre
This drama play portrays real-life experiences of women who suffered violence and ended it by killing their perpetrators. From their touching confessions, we learn that such violence is not something that is happening to someone else, but that that it happens regardless of her social status, education or ethnicity.
What makes this play even stronger is that it is based on a documentary material – genuine confessions of women victims of violence – collected by the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia. But, apart from the attackers/abusers, the play is also blaming the extent of the abuse on weak and/or incompetent institutions, and sometimes also on women for letting it happen. This play was supported by the Embassy.
5. Macho Men, Bitef
In this play the author Milena Bogavac is trying to answer the question: “What is masculinity and how it is perceived and formed in the Serbian culture. The play is based on a research carried out within the project “Be male”. According to the stereotypical image of the Balkan macho types, they are coarse and clumsy in showing emotions. The society expects them to behave according to prescribed pattern, and the play’s goal is to change that image and show that behind the image of these tough men are often hiding scared boys, torn between their nature and gender roles imposed upon them.
The boys in the play are sharing their own experiences, showing thus how the perception of young men in Serbia is manipulated with social circumstances and the environment in which they grew up required being “alpha males”. This play was supported by the Embassy.