(DAMNED BE THE TRAITOR OF HIS HOMELAND!)
Yugoslavia was devoured by civil war and chopped up into a handful of wounded statelets. The Croat Oliver Frljić leads an explicitly humanist charge, presenting a manifesto where private dramas and historical dramas are interwoven. This is theatre of combat where killings multiply in a ritual that is a clear reminder that the land is still damp with the blood of thousands of victims.
A forceful look at individual responsibility, the play is performed by an incredibly true-to-life cast of Balkan actors from the Mladinsko Theatre in Slovenia. Extreme pain and suffering, immoderate joy, unchecked hatred, tears beyond measure – everything is heightened. But the spirit of the piece is not so much theatrical illusion as blunt clarity.
The angry young director displays the still raw open wounds of this brutal split-up in this powerful punch to the gut. Shocking, accusatory and disturbing, Damned Be the Traitor of His Homeland! (the last verse of the Yugoslav national anthem) is a bracing cry for civil and artistic liberty.
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A writer, director, theorist, choreographer and actor, Oliver Frljić is truly the enfant terrible of ex-Yugoslavian theatre, moving freely from street theatre to performances in established institutions, from small intimate spaces to the large National Theatre. His plays provoke discussion and generate contrasting reactions. He pushes the limits, blending reality and fiction, and public and private spheres.
Not yet 40, Oliver Frljić got his start in performance art. His satirical and fiery theatre has been attracting a growing following in the Balkans. After winning two awards at the 17th Small Scene Theatre Festival in Rijeka, Croatia, in 2010 with Turbo Falk and Bacchantes, in 2011 he was awarded the Golden Laurel Wreath at the 51st edition of MESS, the Sarajevo International Theatre Festival, for his adaptation of the classic Yugoslav film When Father was Away on Business, with script by Abdulah Sidran. In November 2011 he received the best director award at the Brčko theatre festival in Bosnia for Letter From 1920, a play about contemporary Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The Mladinsko (“youth” in Slovenian) Theatre was founded in 1955. It presented plays for children and adolescents until the 1980s, before gradually moving toward interdisciplinary pieces, experimental theatre and plays with political content. In 2008 it became the first Slovenian theatre to be awarded the European Ambassador of Culture title by the European Commission.
“This extremely dynamic, deliberately aggressive play is bubbling with all sorts of political incorrectness, vulgarisms, nudity and violence. The viewers cannot hide in the darkness of their chairs as the actors directly provoke them and problematize their passive stance.”
Pia Brezavšček, Vecer, March 10th 2010
“We have seen a true, committed, important, rude, political, post-dramatic, post-modern theatre, dealing with us and the time we are living in.”
Goran Cvetković, Radio Beograd, May l2th, 2010
“The show also gives room to bitter laughter: in the obituary, Frljić is named a theatrical terrorist (…) Above all, this is really a play about Responsibility, personal and collective, and it affects all those living in these places.”
Tatjana Sandalj, kulisa.eu, May l5th, 2010
“The Slovenian show directly attacks a series of dangerous taboos (…). And it does it in a very upfront way, with the effect of a fist in the stomach (…) A demonstration of anarchic theatre, combined with irony and moments of postmodern relaxation, the show Damned Be the Traitor of His Homeland is by all means a work of its time.”
Cristina Modreanu, Art Act Magazine, March 28th, 2011
“Their exploration of cultural hatred in the Balkan region was chilling. (…) This show reached out and grabbed me by the throat. (…) The message came through loud and c1ear: Tribalism will trump morality when all order has perished.”
Philip W. Sandstorm, Times Square, April 8th 2011
PRODUCED BY Mladinsko Theatre
DIRECTED AND WRITTEN BY Oliver Frljić
WITH Primož Bezjak + Olga Grad + Uroš Kaurin + Boris Kos + Uroš Maček + Draga Potočnjak + Matej Recer + Romana Šalehar + Dario Varga + Matija Vastl
SET AND COSTUME DESIGN Oliver Frljić
SOUND DESIGN Silvo Zupančič
DRAMATURGY Borut Šeparović + Tomaž Toporišič
LIGHTING DESIGN Oliver Frljić + Tomaž Štrucl
WRITTEN BY Diane Jean
TRANSLATED BY Neil Kroetsch
Premiered at Mladinsko Theatre, March 2010
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED / FESTIVAL TRANSAMÉRIQUES