This year’s Bitef has unsettled the spirits with its unusual concept and plays that revive ancient, universal motifs in a completely original way
Are you ready for an epic trip? In the literal sense of that word. This year’s 51st Bitef comes under this exact slogan, “Epic Trip”, and the selection embodies the official motto of the festival. Art director of the festival, Ivan Medenica, explained the concept of this specific journey between the past and the future.
Namely, except for the specific duration of the shows, the character of the selected pieces is far more narrative than dramatic, and its themes come from the epic, mythology, well known narratives that treat the beginning of civilisation, and truly distant traditions that stand at the very root of everything we know today. For the duration of the festival, from 22 to 30 September, the stage will see a revival and a contemporary reinterpretation of the great epics of Greek, Biblical and Persian tradition.
The most talked about piece is “Mount Olympus”, directed by Jan Fabre, which lasts for 24 hours. This is an unusual experience, for which the audiences need special preparation. The play itself has only been performed seven times on different stages around the world, because of its unusual duration and very controversial character. At the focus is an ancient Greek theme, interaction with the audience is expected; there is a very intimate relationship with the cast; development of a sense of freedom and lack of restraint is one of the main pillars of the drama, which has already sparked the question among the public – is Belgrade ready for such an experience?
In the selection of this year’s Bitef, this is not the only play with an atypical duration. The British play Quizzilla will also be performed in its original duration of 24 hours, instead of the abridged six.
In the festival program there are two plays by the Slovenian Director Jernej Renci, “The Kingdom of Heaven” (inspired by Serbian epic poetry) and “Bible, attempt one”. We will also see two very ambitious and globally analyzed dramas by two young authors, from whom much is expected, exactly because of their previous work – the Iranian Amir Reza Koohestani “Hearing” and the German of Turkish origin, Ersan Mondtag, “Schnee” (Snow) – after the work of the Nobel winner Orhan Pamuk and “Die Vernichtung” (Obliteration).
The entire program encompasses seven plays, each deserving of the “social event” label, and each bringing the audiences face to face with topics that are never out of style. Topics which are eternal, universal. The understanding of which is pivotal for the fate of the world.