THEATRE COFFEE – HOUSE
/.”Does it have to be so black? While I was watching your performance, I felt like killing myself!” a middle-aged spectator told these words to the protagonists of the performance and the director Branko Sušac. “For many people among us the best thing would be to kill oneself, because young people accuse us too often for their present, unpromising lives”, Branko Sušac responded to the spectator and noted that theatre is not a fun fair, but a place of search and encounter with the truth no matter how cruel it may be (.)/
Svjetlana Hribar, who was the reporter from the 36th BITEF, noted this occasional theatre chat between the middle-aged spectator and the director Branko Sušac in the Novi List newspaper. The theatre company Dr. INAT participated with the hit performance “The Silence Of The Cicadas” in the side-programme of the Centre for Cultural Decontamination at the 36th BITEF. That year’s Festival edition with the subtitle “New World Theatre Order” invited, beside the “Cicadas” from Pula, the legendary “Woyzeck” by Bob Wilson as well as Pandur’s “Hazari”. That casual, in appearance unimportant chat at the very beginning of this story – is actually the key with which to read the twenty years long existence of the theatre Dr. INAT from Pula . Namely, Branko Sušac, the director and the founder of the Dr. INAT theatre summarized in a very few words his philosophy regarding the theatre and the decades-long reasons for being active in one of the most ephemeral of all arts.
PULA ‘S NEW THEATRE ORDER
The theatre Dr. Inat formed itself in the last century’s mid eighties, exactly during the period when the term “theatre post-modernism” entered the theatre vocabulary. With the term theatre postmodernism we define the image theatre, retrogardism, eclecticism and the change of the role of music in the performance. Theatre INAT (which means spite) was baptised with this abbreviation in the season 1984/85, because its full name Istarski Narodni Amaterski Teatar (Istrian National Amateur Theatre) didn’t describe its orientation properly and this was most probably the reason due which the title fell into oblivion. Even if the theatre didn’t change its name, it has to be said that we are not talking about a populist theatre, INAT ignored in a reasonable way the difference between professional and non-professional theatre in a country that perseveringly cared about this rigid bureaucratic division. During the twenty years of existence of INAT, its members graduated from the Academies of Dramatic Arts in the Netherlands , Italy and Germany , while the founder of INAT, Branko Sušac graduated from the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Belgrade . INAT received recognitions and awards from international theatre festivals, in 1987 the weekly magazine Polet appraised INAT among the three biggest theatre happenings (Eurokaz in Zagreb and Teatar Obala in Sarajevo), subsequently in 1987 Dr Antolije Kudrjavcev, who didn’t have any psychological impediments while talking about amateurs, included theatre INAT among the ten most important theatre happenings. All in all, it is evident that INAT didn’t arise as a mere answer to a years – long theatre stagnation in Istria, didn’t arise as a reflection of European or world trends, it arose from the primordial, personal need for creatively shaping one’s own dreams and reality, it was born from the personal creative power and strong artistic virility of its creators.
Inat was registered in the theatre season 1984/85, even if it was conceived almost two years before in 1983 at the Republican Review of Croatian Theatre Amateurs held in Filip Jakov. In order to be able to contextualize and understand completely the circumstances that brought to the birth of INAT, we have to go back in time for a whole decade. After the dissolvment of the ensemble in the Istrian National Theatre in 1970 the theatre life in Pula , as it usually happens, was extinguished. Five years later Pula’s theatre peace was interrupted by the performance “Walking on the Railway Track” directed by the EOS members: Branko Sušac, who was a student of the Belgrade Academy of Dramatic Arts and Budimir Žižović, who worked as a meter render man in “Elektroistra”. In the performance “Walking on the Railway Track” participated Berislav Mudrovčić, a warehouseman in “Elektropskrba”, Zlatica Fimel, a woman clerk in the “Uljanik” shipyard, Zdravko Džodan, a warehouseman in the Seaside resort of the Republican Secretariat of Home Affairs, Vera Kos Paliska, Miroslav Tatić and Božo Benčić. This poetically philosophic text written by Šembera was played before the premiere in Pula in the Zagreb Radio Play programme and afterwards it was published in Forum by Marijan Matković (who was dismissed as editor shortly after that).
In the circles of critics and journalists, as among the audience, the performance “Walking on the Railway Track” was received cum laude. Still, the performance was taken out of the repertoire after three shows, because the ideational standpoint (!) of the Commission for the ideologically politic development of the municipal conference of Pula’s Communist Alliance stated that the basic thought of Šembera’s drama is contrary to the conceptions of the Communist Alliance of Yugoslavia. The statement of reasons of this odious Commission of the Municipal Committee said:”Šembera’s text is a petty-political association of the continuity of our revolution and ways of construction of our self-governmental socialism. Šembera’s drama instead of offering a solution, an exit, offers entrapment, negates dialectic and the existence of an aim, it supports the comeback and all in all is based on an existential philosophy, which is unacceptable and strange to our society. “Basically, after the Commission’s “recommendation”, which in those days had the strength of an anathema, Predrag Matvejević, Vesna Kesić and Mario Bošnjak looked thoroughly into the Pula theatre incident. Predrag Matvejević described with a sharp commentary in the Start magazine the treatment of the Commission being “Ždanov” like and he also derided the criteria of the Commission, due which works by writers like Ivo Andrić, Miroslav Krleža, Ranko Marinković, Meša Selimović, Slobodan Novak and Jure Franičević Pločar should also be discarded. Vesna Kesić wrote, for at that time very popular VUS (Vjesnik u srijedu / Herald on Wednesday), a reportage on the “case” that happened in Pula, among other things, she published the statement of the secretary of the Commission the companion Marijo Mikolić, who said:”.(Šembera’s) text is full of insinuating thoughts and allusions. We can accept that it can be interpreted in many ways. There were, even if not many, other interpretations. There were people, who didn’t see the text in this way, but in the case when a text can be interpreted in different ways it is already unacceptable (.). All the members of our Commission have read the text and had unanimously concluded that it is ideologically unacceptable. We have invited the companions from EOS in order to help them realize the basic thought of the text and its values from the ideological point of view, it is to say, we drew their attention to the series of negative allusions, which refer to our society.” Mario Bošnjak stood on the side of Vesna Kesić and Predrag Matvejević, while they were performing the forced strip tease of the Commission. Mario Bošnjak stated in his commentary that Matvejević almost exaggerated with the neo-Ždanov philosophy, according to him the best description of the matter was “when muteness starts talking – the curtain drops”. After Šembera’s “Walking on the Railway Track” the Experimental Youth Theatre (EOS) didn’t give up performing, but they gave up their name: the new name was Drama Section of the Club of Young Creators at the Youth Cooperative of Pula. In 1977 at the BRAMS festival they walked away with the following awards: first award for the female and male role, the award for the entire performance and the award for the best poster for the play “For a Black Man” directed by Branko Sušac, The following year the theatre group had a new name: Youth Theatre and Sušac directed an apocalyptic 20th century miracle play “Homo Odysseus”, the performance was invited at the BRAMS. What happened between 1978 and 1984? As Selimović would say: “What has not been noted down doesn’t exist; was then died”, in the newspaper’s archives the period between 1978 and 1984 will remain a secret as far as the Pula theatre group activity is concerned. The continuity of the events followed from 1984 when the group changed the name into: Drama Group of Independent Business People. The group put on stage Albert Camus’ “Caligula”. At the 24th Encounter of Croatian Theatre Amateurs in Sisak the reactions to the performance were split. The main problem was the atypical selection of the text, very rare in the amateur repertory. Still, the evaluation of the exceptional acting of the ensemble and the anthological creation of Caligula (Berislav Mudrovčić) was unique. Budimir Žižović, after seeing “Caligula” as a business pirate, wrote in Polet (18th of May 1984): “A theatre amateur is an indestructible beast. Just when you think that you’ve beaten it to death, it resurrects in your pantry and shouts, “Premiere!”, whereas for two years there has been no air, no water, not a nibble to eat. What else can you do then go to the premiere!” After “Caligula” the ensemble changed its name again, they were called Drama Workshop KUD “Mate Balota”. An interesting typing error of Boško Obradović in the Večernji list newspaper happened: instead of “Drama Workshop” appeared “Dama Workshop”. In 1985 this Workshop put on stage the last two “pre-INAT” plays: “Snow White and Seven Dwarfs ” and “Charlie”, both directed by Branko Sušac. “Snow-White.” is a funny cabaret show made of witty remarks by the members of the numerous ensemble, improvisations, quickly created laughter and skilful games. The play went on a big tour throughout Yugoslavia, all the way to Skopje and Prizren. “How were we received there? Ahhhhh, one doesn’t forget it! Prizren, Štip, Probištip, Skopje, Belgrade, but exceptionally Skopje and Štip. (.) We were received gorgeously!” stated the members of the ensemble for the newspaper Glas Istre of the 20th of November 1985. During that journey the popular “Snow-White.” became the first theatre play of Dr. INAT, a name that has found after a long search its omen.
In order to put into context more precisely Pula’s “pre-INAT” theatre period (from 1975 – 1985), it wouldn’t hurt to remember that just a few months before the problem with the Commission regarding Šembera’s text “Walking on the Railway Track”, the American president Nixon crept out of the White House, because of the Watergate affaire. In Yugoslavia, exactly at that time, Josip Broz Tito, thanks to the new Constitution from 1974 was elected President of Yugoslavia without limits to his mandate, whereas BITEF’s “King Ubu” was pronounced the greatest theatre hit of the 70ies. It is interesting to mention that in 1975 the legendary group Pink Floyd released probably the most beautiful album of all times “Wish You Were Here”. While the following year, beside the opinions of the Pula’s office of the SKJ (Communist Alliance of Yugoslavia), the Rolling Stones played two concerts in front of 16 000 people in Dom sportova in Zagreb. Exactly that span of time was the peak of their narcotic period, when the FBI provided them with drugs throughout the whole tour, in order to be sure that an overdose would not happen, while they were promoting their new album “Black and Blue”. Bob Marley survived the attempt on his life and continued singing “No Woman, No Cry” even if he knew he was suffering from cancer. In the same year when Marley died, the icon of the American novel Norman Mailer (six marriages, nine children) got the second Pulitzer. Back home, under mysterious circumstances in 1977 companion Džemal Bijedić died. He was president of the Federal government in two mandates and was married to companion Raza for whom people said was even prettier than Jovanka. At the beginning of the eighties Goran Bregović was thrown out of the SKJ (Communist Alliance Of Yugoslavia) in Sarajevo, because he didn’t attend the meetings of the local district. This little panoramic ride throughout the world served just to come back home, at the beginning of these events, in the long-past 1975. At that time, Željko Bebek left the job in the Alliance of the communities of social insurance of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in order to be able to release with Bijelo Dugme the album “Kad bi’ bio bijelo dugme (If I were a white button)”, which was sold in 200 000 copies. Naturally, they were going to play for Tito at the New Year’s Eve party in the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb . However, after just a few minutes of their theatre concert, the President’s protocol asked the members of Bijelo Dugme to pack their instruments. It is interesting that some of the witness swear that in that precise moment the band was playing one of their most famous refrains, which went:
You and me.
Out of spite, spite, spite, spite
You and me.
Out of spite, spite, spite, spite
A FRENCH KISS
.or – without tongue, please!
With the affirmation that the biggest impossibility of man is to express ones’ essence with the language, Antonin Artaud placed language as the biggest problem of a person’s INVALIDITY. Antonin Artaud defined theatre as a channel through which one can express this experience: human being’s poetic glimpses, which one can not express with the language and which are part of us, part of our experience – are theatre’s mission. In the year 1968, twenty year’s after Artaud’s death, his theatre, literary and cinematographic work became the subject of unprecedented interest of theatre critics and practitioners. In the same stormy year Mirjana Miočinović translated Artaud’s “The Theatre and Its Double”. It is possible that Branko Sušac, who was at the time a student of Mirjana Miočinović at the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Belgrade , exactly in those formative years, started doubting for good in the word as a theatre media. For more then twenty years publicist writings, theatre critics and theatrologist have been dealing with INAT and yet, this apparently simple, almost self-understandable theatre parallel, which didn’t stop at the point of the “impotence of word”, has still not been drawn. This fact is in a way almost unbelievable, because from the first bigger INAT plays as:”Prometheus” 1985/86,”The Masque of Red Death” 1986/87, to “The Rehearsal of the Orchestra” 1993/94, and the newest “Circles” 2004/05 – it is clear that there is one thread in the texture of the entire Pula theatre adventure and this is Artaud’s theatre of cruelty. Of course, we are not saying that INAT copied Artaud’s matrix, because it would be impossible, even if it would not be a unique phenomenon in our theatre, because there were many experiments of that sort and especially of the wrong use of Artaud. As far as Theatre INAT is concerned it has touched the sole essence of theatre experimentation traced by the “crazy Frenchman”, who while holding a lecture to his students at the Sorbonne with the topic “Theatre and Plague”, started very convincingly playing at the rostrum a person dying of plague. From the usage of stage-symbols to the selection of the “object” for a play; from the engrossment by rituals and myths of destruction, to the engrossment by cannibalism, vampirism, by the characters of the inverted “black god”, to the need of reaching the aim, the absolute, even if walking on the black path of the human being; to the emotional conflict created by the collision between the passion for life and the passion for wasting it. It can be said that Theatre Dr. INAT has remained in this two decades absolutely consequent to its own aesthetic and poetic guidelines. Its plays have been interminably faithful to one another, as just a few things in this world. Exactly this is the clue to the recognition and to the high evaluation of INAT’s plays throughout the world; INAT has performed in 25 countries on four continents, obtaining (among home and foreign) around 30 awards.
“CICADAS” AS “COVERSTAR”
In the year 2003 from Canada in the INAT’s archive arrived the newspaper Le Choix des Gens d’ici (19. septembre 2003.), which on the front page brought the following news (we do not need to know French to understand it) “LA CROATIE ET LE MEXIQUE GRANDS GAGNANTS”. The Festival international de theatre amateur des Hautes-Laurentides awarded the play “The Silence of the Cicadas” with the “prix meilleure production”. In the same year from Latvia in INAT’s facilities arrived the Latvian newspaper Zieme.llatvija (2003.gada 19. junijis) on whose front page with big letters wrote: “”Talvilu” iesak horvatu teatris!”, and the subtitle said Pirmie starptautiskaja teatru festivala “Talvils 2003.” Uzstaja viesi no Horvatijas – Kazalištes Dr. Inat teatris ar Branko Sušac izradi “Cikades klusešana”” with the big photograph of the”Cicadas”. At the festival of authorial projects, on the 5th Theatre Review Of European Multicultural Action in Ruma INAT’s “Cicadas” got the “Tremovača” award for the best play in the whole, the “Tremovača” for acting (Šandor Slacki, Ela Poljarević, Frane Meden, Iva Radovan and Mateja Omerzu) as well as the “Tremovača” for the best stage design (Branko Sušac). After that the “Cicadas” travelled to the BITEF festival, where they were seen off from the Centre for Cultural Decontamination with”. a long, long applause.” (S. Hribar, Novi list).
Divadlo INAT, Chorvatsko with the play “Aj cvrčky stichli” performed at the 4th Festivalovy dennik scenickej žatvy in October 2001, before performing in the Czech Republic they had performed in “Tvornica kulture” in Zagreb, after the performance the theatre critic Nataša Govedić stated for Novi list (26th of March 2001): “(.) in favour of INAT’s unique conceptual and stage gift.” On that occasion in the text “Birth of a na(rra)tion” which is about the “Cicadas” she concluded: “. birth, affirms the play, is definitely NOT the way of finding the deepest meaning. But theatre, I am adding, theatre could be that.” From the North Columbian coast, from the city of Barranquilla arrived the invitation for the “Cicadas” to come to the Barranquilla International Drama School Festival. On the invitation the following compliments were written: We are looking forward to seeing your excellent artistic performance here in Barranquilla , Columbia!
The Barranquilla’s newspaper El Heraldo (jueves 2 de novembre de 2000) published on the front page of the section “Cultureles”: “El silencio de los cicados (.) es inminetemente visual, en donde el movimiento del cuerpo, el gesto y la actuacion de los astores, apoyados por una banda sonora de gran fuerza interpretativa, reemplzan la palabra.(.)”, but the best thing was that INAT’s “Cicadas” performed in Barranquilla one year before at the biennial FITBA ’99 (Festival internacional de teatro de Barranquilla). The newspaper El tempo Caribe (jueves 20 de mayo de 1999) published a big article with the title “Teatro universal – de fiesta en Barranquilla” with a photograph of Gordana Trajković one of “los cicadas”. The most read local newspaper De Aeraldo, with the press run of 70 000 copies dedicated a whole page to INAT, on which was written that the Croatian play was the pillar of the Festival: the most expensive tickets at the Festival were for the “Cicadas” and both performances were sold out. Besides, for the first time in the history of this Columbian theatre review, whose director is the eminent university teacher professor Teobaldo Quillena, invited to the Festival was a European theatre company. Guests of the earlier Festival’s editions were exclusively South and North American artists. The local Croatian newspaper Glas Istre spread the news about the “Cicadas” (8th of June 1999), as if they had been the viewers of the Columbian programme. The “Cicadas” performance in Columbia followed the performance they had had five months before at the 2nd International Theatre Festival San Marco in Caracas (middle of December 1998). From that guest appearance in INAT’s archive just a programme booklet of the Festival remained.
In autumn 1999 Theatre Dr. INAT went to Korea at the 99th CHUNCHON INTERNATIONAL THEATRE FESTIVAL – and luckily they brought with themselves a camera with which they recorded hours and hours long theatre and non-theatre happenings. Luckily, because the intensity of the recordings has without doubt the strength of a relevant theatre document, it is an exceptionally important witness of the Korean performance of the”Cicadas”. On the other side, as much as we can make something out of the Lithuanian, Danish, Spanish, French, Swedish, Czech, Columbian and Venezuelan newspapers – it would be hard to do the same thing with the Korean language and letters. The camera recorded the entrance of more than a thousand people in the theatre hall of the town of Chunchon. The panoramic flight of the camera among the audience arouses those kind of emotions as when one sees an overcrowded stadium where the home team plays. The ensemble of the “Cicadas” sang a cappella to the audience “Krasna zemljo, Istro mila”, “Ju te san se zajubija” and “Vehni, vehni fiolica” . At the end of the play, one thousand Koreans stood up and their chanting lasted, lasted, lasted and lasted. Afterwards the camera “caught” our actors while they were giving autographs to a fairly large newly acquired Korean crowd of admirers. The camera as well immortalized the well known profile of Pula’s artist, who swamped with emotions hid himself behind a tree and cried. He was secretly catching with his fingers the tears under his famous black sun glasses, because the world has finally discovered an author who is known back home as a man of radical, loud and direct swearwords.
THE TOP OF INAT’S WAVE
On the day when Julian Beck had to perform at the 19th BITEF, the theatre world was shaken by the news that this genial prophet of the new theatre adventure of the second part of the 20th century died at the age of sixty in his hometown New York . That night in Belgrade expecting him were, among others, major children of those persons, who were lucky to see the famous interpretation of “Antigona”, which had been played by The Living Theatre 18 years ago at the 1st BITEF. To make no mistake, that interpretation of “Antigona” was rejected with horror and lack of understanding by the audience and part of the critic. The performance was the inducement of an unbelievable hatred which splashed against the new theatre and this new theatre started “infecting” Yugoslavian stages as well. Jovan Ćirilov, the founder of BITEF, noted down in his “Teatralije” (“A voyage through theatre”); “It was shouted that it is amateurism, offstage aggression, futile purpose of the theatre, the art of a bunch of drug addicts, betrayal of the sublime values of the literary theatre (.)”. The Living Theatre with their long past anthological “Antigona”, which raised the hackles of the audience, protested directly against the war which in that moment America was leading in Vietnam. At that time they changed the role of the theatre in the society. They crossed the until then inviolated “barrier” which divided the performer from the audience, they broke every frontier between art and life attitude, they walked among the audience in the pit, of Atelier 212, among the PREMIERE audience who was “used to its reliable peace in the penumbra of the pit, used to its free tickets, to its column in the newspaper open to all lack of information and hasty judgements.” (J. Ćirilov) Basically, The Living Theatre entered among the audience, who was unprepared to share and write with them a new, important page in the theatre history. It ended, people said, painfully, even with a few slaps in the face, whereas after two decades they were waiting for Julian Beck as a living legend, as a unique revolutionary of the theatre, as a patron saint – they didn’t meet him, because he died on that day of the year 1985.
Even if numerous epigones continued playing, even living following the “Livings” concept, the theatre in the meantime lost the social value and became more and more impotent. Theatre Dr. INAT based its first works exactly on that theatre tradition of the sixties and the seventies. While comprehending that apathy became an important part of the clinical world picture, this theatre based from its very beginning its poetic on the sensitivity completely opposite of the “Livings” one. Theatre Dr. INAT was listening to the pulse of the tectonic changes in the collective consciousness and realized those changes, which consequently happened in the perception of the theatre. It based its poetic on the principles contrary to the ones that functioned when the “Livings” were ravaging the world. At the first sight it could seem that there are some common points of reference, which link Dr. INAT to the above mentioned tradition, if we think of INAT as a theatre that provokes, a theatre that while choosing a theme, starting with “Prometheus” in 1985 and ending with the “Circles” 2005, in the ancient sense looks for and comprehends the reasons of life and death. In the same way, it could seem at the first sight that Dr. INAT is a theatre of noise and rage, a theatre of the traditional scream, a theatre that asks the audience to scream in order to be in resonance with the scream of the plays. However, the truth is essentially different.
Theatre Dr. INAT promotes with every single play, without exception, the theatre as a place of concentration and silence. Dr. INAT is a theatre, which wants to animate the sleepy conscience of mankind, but its methods are different. From season to season it continuously lifts up the invisible “barrier”, which divides the stage from the pit. On the 20th birthday INAT has shown precisely with a surreal and mannerist play “Circles” the height of this spiritual “barrier”, which has become – in harmony with the world picture – insurmountable. Till then all INAT’s plays have invited the spectator in a subtle way to climb on the stage to console the “Cicadas”, to sympathize with “Prometheus”, to give a hand and help Large-head in the play “So It Started”, to “jump” into “Rubik’s Well”, to intervene in the nightmares of “Pink Dreams”, to help the imprisoned in the “The Masque of Red Death”, to take possession of the baton in the “The Rehearsal of The Orchestra”. In the audience there was not a single knight to recognize this obviously too subtle cry for help. Finally the “Circles” commented the theatre, reported on the “state of the nation” and buried the individual at whom the whole democratic world swears and they righteously raised an insurmountably high wall. By all indications, Dr. INAT is waiting for the moment when from the audience’s subconscious the non-thought “I paid to watch!” will evaporate.
Twenty years ago the plays of theatre Dr. INAT were almost consecutively praised and encouraged, exclusively in the context of happenings on home amateur and alternative theatre stages. The theatre critic and theatrologist, the winner of the Zlatno pero (Golden pen) at Sterija theatre, Dr. Anatolij Kudrjavcev wrote:”A play which brings a new, very meticulously elaborated variation of physical theatre. We are talking about a powerful theatre, which ponders over the universal theme; the relationship between the individual and the group that is to say, the crowd. The idea that never consents to closure, but continuously develops new associative arches. The choreography and the production sometimes repeat themselves, but never become drained and always find out a series of effective and efficacious solutions. The solutions of the production are realized by the performers in exemplariness, provided with an almost mystic ritual.”
After five years the eminent critic, Dalibor Foretić, wrote about “Prometheus 44 N 20’18 E 45′”: “An excellent stage design and consistently conveyed slow motion, a superbly staged and performed scenes of fight, they have achieved an impressive move into the twisted, phantasmagorical picture of the precise feeling of our spiritual moment.” B. Ostojić in Novi list wrote the following compliments about “The Masque of Red Death”: “It is a happening that has to remain alone and unique in order to preserve the sacredness of its stage life.” The actor Željko Mavrović declared for Radio Zagreb :”(.) this play is beauty of subconscious morbidity (.)”, while the publicist Jakša Fiamengo published in Slobodna Dalmacija: “The play besides through music communicates through its lively, dreamlike visual strength and the cultivated choreographic movements (.)”. The dramaturge Iva Gruić Drach wrote: “”The Masque Of Red Death” talks about a situation in which human dignity, every trace of fight against the limitation of freedom and the breaking of individuality are repressed (.)” The critic Boris Rotar published about the pledge of someone’s bloody dream in the play “Pink dreams”: “The painter’s colours are in this play, whether we talk about the dead floating fishes or the pure red colour, which drops from the exhibited head, the meticulously selected fruit or the colours of the spreads on the dishes, which are filled, greasy, heavy from the always present blackness, expressive like a scream(.)”
” (.) the audience is stimulated to dive into its own subconsciousness and consciousness of the world. The contact with the current problematic of city life is not avoided – the director Branko Sušac dedicated to the Major, who wanted to move the City Library from the city centre to the army barracks, the scene with the girl, who is lighting up the candles and laying the books away. (.)” M. Bošnjaković
Dr. Anatolij Kudrjavcev, who watched “The Rehearsal of The Orchestra” in the context of the 34th Festival of Croatian Theatre Amateurs in Pula, said that the play – with a little help from Mr. Fellini and some nightmares – was the final proof of the downfall of the festival: ” When at the end of a review a destructive, dark and deeply thoughtful play as “The Rehearsal of The Orchestra” directed by Branko Sušac and performed by Theatre Dr. INAT from Pula happens and is held in an almost metaphysic coldness and dampness of the emergency shelter near the Archaeological museum, isn’t it the final proof that the whole festival does not have its own general vision, nor its own theatre view point. What can think one of another, the amateurs who as entertainers perform in a kajkavska folklore farce, which deals with the maltreated Croatianism as with an inflating balloon, and those who metaphorically participate in the universal condemnation of stupidity and tyranny, those who are the cause of the unhappiness in the world as members of the fatal “Orchestra” (.), who do not seek answers, but ask questions, those who don’t halt in blind alleys of completed things?”
Those few most important INAT’s plays, as the drama teacher and theatrologist Vlado Krušić would say, the “top of the wave” plays, which underneath hold an ocean of tradition and its transformation, sometimes in a cold war with, as Ćirilov would say “the critic of impure mind”. The top of Inat’s wave has most probably built a telepathic and geminous relationship with the beyond, with the place where the unhappy genius of Artaud went, where Brecht who was looking for an intellectual actor went, where Beckett – the Einstein of drama – went, a place where the founder of The Living Theatre wanders. The whole story around Inat happened in the deep backwoods of South Eastern Europe, in a town which Joyce nominated the “marine Siberia of K&K monarchy”, in a town in which the Istrian National Theatre has had no ensemble for more then thirty-five years, the theatre of the mainstream, which is looking for its art between the “realistic” and the “super-stylized” in performing, through an occasional new production of Shakespeare and Krleža. The fact that Thalia lives in the streets of Pula and the fact that theatre means (pardon, mme Sarah Bernhardt!), was in the best way put into words by the publicist Boris Rotar:
“No one can pay me so little, for how little I can love theatre!”
In a big fear of indisputable authorities and higher forces, with the hazardousness that this conclusion might be proclaimed pretentious, at the end of this synthesis I am gathering the fragments of my long ago eroded self-confidence, just to find strength to write the following lines:
The founder of the Theatre Dr. INAT, Branko Sušac, was born in 1948, the same year when Antonin Artaud died. The Living Theatre died in 1985, the same year when Theatre Dr. INAT was born. I am apologizing in advance for settling with these facts some impure thoughts in your mind, but the truth is that the director Branko Sušac couldn’t have had an influence on his birth, nor on Artaud’s death. And the point about the “Living Theatre” and INAT, I have a presentment, has never been indicated. At least not until now.
However, in the wall, which INAT has slowly raised while requesting from the audience to be the knight of the performance playing on stage, well, in that wall / barrier – a hole, a good excuse, as semiologists would say a communication channel exists, through which INAT is still giving and looking for. If INAT’s tribe hadn’t invested in its “young forces” – which in 20 years created fifteen plays, five or six of which were big INAT’s plays (besides some standards) – today they would have been adorned with the title – dead capital. Indeed, while looking the dates of the plays, which were more or less successfully created by the young members of INAT (regularly supervised by Branko Sušac), it can be said that they “churned out” on average one and a half play in two theatre seasons. There were seasons, for example, 1990/91 or 1991/92 where INAT had three to four premieres, while there were seasons when there were no authorial plays from youngsters. This emotional investment – this work with young performers, who had to realize themselves as well as individual authors on their projects – was obviously ingrained in the sole code of Theatre Dr. INAT. It is very interesting that for all these years theatre critics at home have been very inclined towards the young authors. The cheering up and the encouragement sometimes transformed itself into an open supporter’s passion and this relationship between the media and theatre debutantes is by the way unique. In any case it is in a way a big compliment to the Istrian mentality. Namely, other milieus are in those conditions more reserved, they often meet debutantes with hostility, sometimes righteously, but not too infrequently “just in case”.
The theatre critic Vlatka Kolarović evaluated with following words in Glas Istre (2nd of April 1997) the play “Journey into the Middle of the Earth” by Maja Koroman and Nevena Trgovčić: “A miraculous fairy tale of the cast-offs, who on the fragments of their youth shape a new world (.)”. “Silent stories” by Anamarija Vošten was proclaimed a conscious and modern work: “From INAT’s school this time came out a ripe, but strangely optimistic modern play, which surpasses the usual paleness of the repeated performances of the master.” (Bojana Ćustić Juraga, Glas Istre, 12th of October 2003). The Republican selector, the director Darko Tralić inserted in 1992 the play “Steppenwolf” by Željana Vučina and Draško Ivezić at the Republican Review of Croatian Drama Amateurs, whereas the play “Wonderful, New World” by Željana Vučina participated at the SKAH in 1989/90 where it was inserted among the two best plays in the whole and it participated as a Croatian representative at the Savezni festival in Mostar. “Stories from the Atelier” by Nataša Kličković and “The Evening of Mr. Smith” went to the festival in Čakovec, while “The Masque of Red Death” went to the International Street Theatre Festival / Schleswig Holstein in 1990/91. Two works from 1996, “While leaving” and “Don’t Look at Me With The Eyes of a Fool”, which according to Boris Rotar correspond to one another and can be performed as the first and second act of a play, received big appraisals from relevant critics. “This play, as an impressively strong insurrection of young people against our present life, with its theatre strength, and especially with its message, exceeds by far the level of our contemporary non-professional theatre. Due to its clear message, rebelliousness and even courage, it certainly could be enlightening to our professional theatres, which for different reasons, very rarely let themselves into experimental performing investigations.” (Boris Ostojić, Novi list, 4th of April 1996). “Some young people from Pula, under the supervision of Branko Sušac, have made a new, free, authentic Pula Theatre Product – purposeful, independent and noble, therefore as sign of quality it is good to say MADE IN PULA, because this edition can hold the competition with any post-modern play of European cultural milieu.” (Boris Rotar, Glas Istre)
And yet, among these praised plays, the play “Garden” by Sabina Bambur (1992) stood out. This work got three awards at the SKAH in Varaždin, for the entire play, for the production and the stage design and it was awarded at the Split Summer, without being performed. Immediately after the premiere of the “Garden”, Glas Istre published the following article, which needs to be transcribed entirely, because it would be a sin to publish just some fragments of this brilliant text by Boris Rotar:
AMARCORD FROM SARAJEVO
The spirits of Fellini, Sidran and Sušac hover over the atmosphere of Pula ‘s stage
“Once upon a time in one of Sarjevo’s doorways lived a girl who wanted to become an actress. She loved Sarajevo , the theatre on the bank of Miljacka, Mejerhold, Grotowski, Brook, Tin Ujević and .war happened. Through Glas Istre she started looking for an apartment in Pula.I don’t know if she found the apartment, but after four months spent in Pula she decided to forget professor Bora Stjepanivić and acting, she became a director. “I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to act again!”. She was born in the seventies. ..Saraj – ovasi, in the Turkish language “field surrounding the court”, was the Ottoman denomination for a town with many “losers”, which after Lebanon became the universal metaphor of irrational artillery destruction among the three religions, most probably represented by infidels. Despite everything, everybody tries to escape from Dante’s cauldron. Maybe the reason is that they want to take away their Sarajevo and not to remember it like this – a menagerie.
In the Istrian National Theatre, on the stage, once again consistent with the Inat’s concept of free theatre (read a very poor one), a pendulum that sways during the entire forty minutes (another Inat’s exceptional and constant quality) of the play, as a simple and to everybody recognizable symbol of Time, life flow.a metronome that someone has started with its own hand and it doesn’t stop to sway over our heads. Has it been made to sway by the little girl with golden hair who is clothing long stockings for the first time in her life? Playing on Pula’s stage was the already many times seen Milton’s Paradise Lost, pictures of the class, the childhood in the garden with toys and turkey – cocks.the acting is polished, there is no jumping into costumes, no relying on the inexistent (sometimes being without money helps) stage design. The premiere of the play “Garden” was accompanied by the permanent Inat – audience, mostly young people, who literally crammed the stage. The audience could see the actors started talking on the stage. Till now they have been diligently mentored by the bald – head Guru Branko, they have mastered the indoor (totally stage like) and the outdoor (looking stage like) space. The young director Sabina Bambur, an actress without a degree, taught them how to pronounce in the proper manner the words of Wim Wenders, to read a sermon, Calderon, Paniz and Sutter. The Drang nach Osten happened, because Branko with his young, but disciplined and well trained actors managed to march from the western part of the town, from the Škaljerova Street on the stage of the Istrian National Theatre galley and managed to break this closed eastern wall.
INAT has witnessed once again with this excellent play that Pula unflinchingly smoulders the theatrical zeal to which neither the city fathers nor Chronos are well – disposed, otherwise with zeal we could have like Malick and his Natives generated a really great theatre. It seams that this town can not recognize its artists not to mention appreciate them. Unfortunately, Kairos is still somewhere else. INAT was “the Scourge of God” and was the boss of amateur theatre festivals of former Sadslavia, while in Pula it exists as a silk – warm in its cocoon waiting for Marco Polo (why just a monk!) to show it to the daylight in its glittering beauty of the rough but elegant Shantung silk textile.
Igor Ivezić, Maša Jerin, Mladen Vojinović, Alenka Akšamija, Marijana Kardelj, Dunja Tokić, Ana Morožin, Maja Radanović, Ester Pavić, Barbara Martinčić, Maja Jokanović, Lidija Opačić, Gala Benčić, Radmila Petković, Branka Bedrina, Maja Koroman, Tatjana Grbić, Vjeran Trpčić, Azra Hamzić and Maja Bibić brought out a youthfully inspired play of powerful pictures, rich with symbolism, which everybody has the right to interpret using one’s own “programme” on one’s own “computer”. The success of every good play as well as the success of this theatrically polyvalent premiere consists exactly in this. It seems to me that from the bottles on the stage of the Istrian National Theatre someone has let out the incessantly hovering spirits of Fellini, Sidran and Sušac. Mixed they are the best cocktail! The bartender is a woman of a very refined and delicate palate…
One shouldn’t be ashamed of the occasional so called sweet pathetic or God forbid fairy tale like scenes! Has ever, for example, a punk artist reached the beauty of Ivana Brlic Mazuranić fairy tales or of Snow White? Hasn’t Felllini’s poetic been awarded with an Oscar by the Hollywood magnates of the celluloid tape, has everyone ever reached the charm of the Mozart’s genial melody? Do you believe that this atavistic war will manage to shade the beauty of the sarabande or the minuet? I don’t think so. As long as your pendulum in spite of everybody and everything will sway I’ll believe that once again I’ll be able to eat titbit at Morić-han in Sarajevo , kadaif and halva in the pastry shop ” Egypt ” while waiting for the bus to take me to the airport.
I take off my hat to Sabina Bambur and the INAT ensemble. With your premiere of the “Garden” you gave us moments of true and sincere stage comfort. You made us believe, at least for forty minutes, that theatre is more important and beautiful than life. ..Believe me that pendulum in your play sways for us and for those similar to us. Venceremos!