Arterarij and Theatre &TD Zagreb (Croatia)
Direction and Scenography: Romano NIKOLIĆ
Arterarij and Theatre &TD Zagreb (Croatia)
Direction and Scenography: Romano NIKOLIĆ
Dramaturgy: Dorotea ŠUŠAK
Costumes: Zdravka IVANDIJA KIRIGIN
Light design: Vesna KOLAREC
Composer: Damir ŠIMUNOVIĆ
Video projections: Ivan LUŠIČIĆ LIK
Video materials: Dora ČALDAROVIĆ, Lovro MRĐEN, Jovana BERAR
Romano Nikolić is one of the most successful Croatian actors of the younger generation. He is the winner of two Croatian acting awards, and the inevitable face of the Dubrovnik Summer Festival, which encouraged him to pursue the path of acting. In his native Dubrovnik, he played in adaptations of Držić and Shakespeare, and Charon in Vojnović’s Geranium. In addition to acting, he is also a director. He is the founder of Arterarij, a non-governmental organization that primarily deals with the inclusion of minorities and stigmatized groups in artistic productions.
THE AUTHOR ABOUT THE PLAY
Can theater change things around it?
It Cannot! Unfortunately! But it can reach the human heart faster and easier than any campaign, advertisement, political influence. We do not deal with politics; we deal with people. But just because the theater can’t change things doesn’t mean one should stop trying. When I give in to utopia, I say: if five people leave this play, having acquired a different attitude towards other people, then we are on the right path. My plays are not a call to revolutions, they are maybe just a small call to an emotional revolution. And it always seems to me that my end users are not the people in the audience, but that they are all the people in &TD and the author’s team who met our Semih, because that meeting has already changed their consciousness.
When asked how he sees his future as an author and director in the years to come, ie. which topics he wants to deal with in the future, Romano explains: “Always the ones in which speechless people have an opportunity to have their voices heard. I, in fact, realize that tomorrow I could be one of them, it could be any of us. For example, I think that it is precisely men who must speak about topics that reflect the position of women in society. For me, the working principle is always the same: I read something, it upsets me a lot and I can’t get over it. For example. the number of women who were killed in domestic violence last year, that number causes something in me that doesn’t allow me to turn the page and say: It doesn’t concern me.”
The most important thing is to show us that the European moral crisis is also at work in the migrant crisis, explains Romano.
(Vecernji list, March 7, 2022)
ABOUT THE PLAY
Bora is an activity within the project 4O: Discovery, sanctification, empowerment and organization for human rights, which is supported through the EEA financial mechanism with funds from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway within the Fund for Active Citizenship.
Project 4O: Discovery, Awareness, Empowerment and Organization for Human Rights is jointly implemented by the Youth Initiative for Human Rights, Civil Rights Project Sisak, European House Vukovar, Status M and ARTERARIJ.
The play Bora, an author’s project by actor and director Roman Nikolić, opens the topic of refugees and European and global responsibility for lost and/or threatened lives, as well as for the injustice that is renewed every day in our immediate vicinity, and which we so often refuse to see. Bora continues on the uncompromising and socially engaged aesthetics and ethics of the AO Arterarij, which continuously opens the neuralgic points of the national and global community, resisting discriminatory violence and endangering human rights, i.e. endangering the freedoms of a stigmatized individual or the entire community. In September 2015, the photo of the drowned three-year-old Syrian boy Alan Kurdi, whose body was found on the Mediterranean coast near Bodrum, went viral. The media attention focused on this case was often headlined with the slogan “Humanity (of Europe) washed ashore”, thus denouncing the most severe consequences of the already devastating European moral crisis. The refugee experience is an authentic struggle in the necessity of life, the outcome of which does not and cannot have a simplified common denominator, but draws us into the imaginary of parallel potentials that reality sometimes threatens and sometimes surpasses. Almost seven years later, the author’s team of the play Bora deals with personal undulations, bonds, (un)freedoms and unrest provoked in us by confronting people who are on our continental, maritime and emotional borders every day, and puts us in the position of responsible witnesses who have the power to become protagonists, even when they refuse to do so.
Migrant crisis and selectively permeable Europe
Through the play Bora, Romano Nikolić reminded the audience of the event from 2015, when a photo of the dead Alan Kurdi went around the world. It is about a three-year-old boy who was washed ashore onto a sandy beach near Bodrum. Namely, his family was trying to escape from the civil war that was raging in Syria at the time and settle in a better place. That idea failed due to a combination of circumstances, and Romano decided not to let the story go into oblivion, so he breathed new life into Alan. It is performed by Frano Mašković, Luka Knez and Iva Kraljević, and it also features Semih Adigizel, who brings a documentary and activist experience of life in exile.
The performance is somewhat abstract. There is not a lot of action and dialogue because the atmosphere is filled with despair and helplessness. There is bitterness that slowly spreads from the stage to the audience. You can feel a touch of nostalgia for some better times, which is perfectly conveyed by involuntary movements and seemingly pointless “playing” on the sandy beach. The author obviously aimed to arouse emotions in the viewers, who are representatives of morally immune Europeans. We follow sad events that are not crystal clear, but are nevertheless suggestive enough to make us feel called out. Europeans are calculating, they only look at their own benefit. They close borders, they hate people, they are afraid of the intermingling of cultures, they fear that they will become subordinate.
This is where the symbolism of the play’s name lies. According to one of the numerous translations, bora means “evil wind”. In the play, the storm is a substitute for people. An individual in itself does not have to be evil, destructive, or overpowering, but that is how it acts within the system that requires it to do so. Who can help refugees, if it is not in accordance with the interests of the ruling structure? The performance doesn’t really question anything so openly, but it evokes different associations. It also contains some lovely elements, sometimes it is childish and innocent. In the sea of misery, it brings a trace of hope that strengthens and weakens, depending on the scene.
Honestly, I’m not really sure that people could understand what the author was trying to say. I don’t know why it happens, but I’ve already experienced several times that there are people sitting in the auditorium laughing when the saddest scene is going on. For God’s sake, the play is trying to inject the weight of an undeserved death into our bones. And just when you think that something must have changed from 2015 to today, you realize that it hasn’t. There are still wars, refugees are looking for refuge, political discussions are taking place in which humanity is excluded, and some laugh at it all. Before I started writing this review, I thought about the purpose of the play. This performance is absolutely innovative, socially responsible and therefore of high quality. Although he appeals to develop compassion towards refugees, I primarily decided to emphasize the accompanying knowledge about art and people. I concluded that this time it is not important to convey to the reader what the play has to offer. Bora is not a show that offers something spectacular, it does not entertain us and it is not an instant piece that lasts as long as yogurt. On the contrary, it sharply resembles a catchphrase that reads: “Humanity (Europe) cast ashore”. Really, that humanity is a huge unknown.
Goran Terzić (ZIHER. hr, March 22, 2022)
The &TD theater is once again a theater that dares to think, question, make mistakes, try, and thus taking it closer to its “initial” agenda. The play BORA “threw” its director into our focus. Romano Nikolić is an actor and theater director who asks, who marks, who reminds. His acting is anchored, as with every other freelance artist in that field, in the happiness of occasional collaborations. However, his direction is consistent because it really depends on his decision to create a world he believes in. He founded the AO Arterarij, with which he sovereignly walks the world of theater. His theatrical universe, as it has been shown so far, is on the side of the oppressed, the Others. He puts socially sensitive issues on the stage, which we know has its own microscopic effect – at the moment when the real questions are spoken, of course. And that, we know, is half the answer. The depicted, smothered social anxiety, the negation of meaning that we perpetually witness, the (re)presentation of screams of horror and cries of banality is the directorial success of actor Roman Nikolić and author Dorotea Šušak. A must watch!