We discussed what makes a play successful, the ways to spot great talent and domestic film with the Art Director of the Yugoslav Drama Theatre, famous theatre and film director
With his hair tied back as usual, Gorčin welcomes me at the door of his office at the Yugoslav Drama Theatre. While theatre fans are experiencing withdrawal at the end of the summer, waiting for a new season, Gorčin is already elbows deep in preparation of new premieres, which should sell like hot cakes very soon. As he explains, comments aside, he has all the reasons to be proud as the Art Director of YDT. The season behind us was marked by packed theatres, but also by guest performances around the region, and farther.
Photo: Igor Pavićević – Nedeljnik
In the season behind us, the Yugoslav Drama Theatre launched many plays, which were widely discussed both in public and in the theatre bars. What are your impressions now?
We had five premieres. I am truly proud that they were all successful and are being carried into the next season. They are very different, but I think this is how it should be. We are like a store of colonial goods. We offer different things to the audience. There’s glue, and then there’s jam, too. There’s rope and there’s bread… However, all our products are in demand and are selling well. Some people like one thing, others like another. Some have this or that to say in objection… But this is how it has always been. Good shows have a thousand flaws, and bad ones just the one – they’re no good. Fortunately, we don’t have that problem.
“Hamlet” by Aca Popovski, starring Glogovac in the title role, is very well received among the audiences. The play has already travelled around the region and is being invited to some festivals farther away. The play “Pod Žrvnjem” (“Under the Millstone”) doesn’t have that “halo effect” as it is played in an intimate atmosphere, at the Large Scene together with the audiences, but it is very significant. Nenad Jezdić, for example, is doing some of his best work ever in playing his role in it, in my opinion. The audiences have recognized that.
Boris Lješević worked on “Hotel Slobodan Promet” (“The Free Exchange Hotel”) by Feydeau, which was something quite unexpected for him. In this play, Gagi Jovanović has made a theatrical comeback, after a certain sabbatical. “Don Juan” is my play, so I feel a bit awkward discussing it. Suffice to say that it is also always sold out. Jagoš Marković stole the show with his Pirandello, which resounded enormously with the audience.
The Yugoslav Drama Theatre has been subtitling its shows for quite a while, allowing foreigners to get acquainted with the domestic theatre. What are the reactions?
Two or three times a month, the plays are subtitled in English. These are usually the pieces the foreigners are most interested in, but each play gets a turn in the end. Here, too, the response has been good.
The great Serbian actors seem to be woven into the spirit of this city. In addition to being well liked in the community, we can see an increasing number of graffiti springing up all over the city, dedicated to Bora Todorović, Mija Aleksić, Dragan Nikolić… What films would you recommend to someone who is not very familiar with the domestic film but would like to get to know its essence, but also the essence of our specific expression in acting?
With foreigners, a problem arises after they have seen the contemporary Serbian films. They can’t figure out why each film has to have both comedy and tragedy. Honestly, I think this is not an issue of mentality, I think it is creative impotence. The terror of success leads to banality, although my own experience has taught me that a film doesn’t have to be packed with stupid jokes and banalities to fill the theatres. On the contrary.
Honestly, when someone asks me to recommend top 10 films from my country, my mind usually first goes to the country that’s been gone for 25 years. Therefore, first of all the black wave. Žika Pavlović, Makavejev, Žilnik, Saša Petrović, then the Czech school… This are obviously the permanent values of Belgradian school. Although, Žilnik is from Novi Sad, I wouldn’t want him to be offended.
Photo: Igor Pavićević – Nedeljnik
Your film, “Ubistvo s predumišljajem” (“Premeditated Murder”) introduced actors who are the biggest stars today. How did you recognize back then, almost 30 years ago, the acting greats such as Nebojša Glogovac, Sergej Trifunović and Dragan Mićanović?
There was nothing to recognize. They were kids from the Academy who stood out immediately. It was plain to see. Sergej and Glogovac have that God-given gift; they honed that talent and today, they are what they are. When a gift is great, sometimes it is clear to see. But not all gifts are like that. There are those which remain hidden for a while, such as, for example, Vojin Ćetković. He is from that same class, but at the time of their studies it seemed as if he was in the shadow, which he wasn’t. Now it is completely clear that he is not an actor in anyone’s shadow and that his talent is enormous.
To a large extent, circumstances also affect things. For this particular team, it came in handy that we were working on “Premeditated Murder” at that particular time and that I asked the producers to have young people in it, those that had only been known in theatrical circles before.
The return to theatres is drawing near. What premieres can we expect to see?
The first premiere is a show directed by Slobodan Unkovski, after the cult book “Einstein’s Dreams” by Alan Lightman, who will come to Belgrade. In mid-October, just after the premiere, he will give a lecture in Belgrade. Unkovski is doing this show in our theatre, with a very serious group of people.
In addition, Jana Maričić will be doing a play “Sudnji dan” (“Judgement Day”) after the text of Neil LaBute, excellent American dramatist and film director. The play looks into the relationship between the intimate and the public, at the time when the great tragedy struck New York. It will star Aleksandra Janković and Milan Marić. It is interesting that this was, at the time, the first theatrical response to 9/11, and that Sigourney Weaver played at the premiere. Then, we will have Iva Milošević directing Turgenev, “Mesec Dana na Selu” (“A Month in the Country”), a great Russian classic, with Mirjana Karanović in one of the title roles.
Interview by Miljana Nešković