I don’t consider myself very competent to speak academically about my or anyone else’s writing. I never went to school to become a writer for theatre. I’m an actor by profession, so I’m not unfamiliar with mechanisms needed to create a theatre play. My first (and to this day only published) play was created out of need to speak out about certain issues which dominate the society in my country, but which are somewhat obscured, mostly by our complex past, ethnic and religious divisions. As an actor I came across and dealt with eternal human issues (friendship, love, enmity, death, God etc.) on stage almost every day. As a writer I’m fascinated with social frames which burden everyday lives with invisible weight and, as such, influence emotions, relations and notions, euthanizing them or blowing them out of proportion on subconscious level. I tried to deal with this frames in my first piece, and will continue this analysis in the future.
That brings me to the topic “Beyond borders”. In Yugoslav context the idea of a border means something special. It’s not a mere symbol of division or state’s frontier. It means a lot more. For some it is a symbol of destruction, loss, national madness, warfare and plain stupidity. For them, those lines are a morbid monument of a broken dream. For others, border symbolizes freedom, success, pride, victory and heroism. For them, borders are a symbol of downed totalitarianism.
For people of all generations (literally from 16 to 60), who learn German in language courses across the country, border is just an obstacle. In reality, people are trying to cross those zig zagging red lines for a better future. Everybody dreams about a future beyond them. Yugoslav peoples substituted one utopia which is defunct now, with a new one: European Union. And, as so many people across Asia and Africa, are trying to penetrate fortress Europe, the powerhouse of the world. Europe’s borders are thick and impenetrable, but smiling on alll of us. Encouraging us to pursue our dreams.
Sometimes I feel borders are never really meant to be open. That’s why they are always drawn in unbroken lines, closed at every end. Sometimes I even feel they are alive, invisible but present, slowly squeezing us in our circled islands, until we all suffocate.
Benjamin Bajramović was born in 1989 in Zenica. He graduated in 2011 from the Acting Department of the Performing Arts Academy in Sarajevo in the class of Ermin Bravo. His graduate performance 1984 based on the novel by George Orwell was included in the repertoire of Sarajevo War Theatre where it performed until 2014. He worked as a permanent associate of Sarajevo War Theatre for four seasons during which he acted in “It Was a Nice and Sunny Day”, directed by Tanja Miletić Oručević, “The Secret of Raspberry Jam”, directed by Selma Spahić, and “Animal Farm”, directed by Dino Mustafić. In the production of the International Theater Festival – MESS Scene he performed in “What is Europe?” directed by András Urbán, and in Bosnian National Theatre Zenica, he performed in “My Factory” and “Romeo and Juliet”, both directed by Selma Spahić. He took part in the following international co-productions: “Male – Female, Female – Male” authored by Shadow Casters (Croatia), ”Bolero”, directed by Michael Pinchbeck (UK), and “Battlefield Memory” directed by Hans-Werner Kroesinger and Regina Dura (Germany). He is the winner of the best young actor award at the BiH Drama Festival in Zenica for “It Was a Nice and Sunny Day” and co-winner of a number of collective actors’ awards. Ithakas is his first play.
Main characters of this piece are four friends (in their late twenties): Jacob, Masha, Nechko and Del boy. They meet in a decrepit pub owned by one of them (Del boy). They are only guests there and have their usual routine which is disrupted when Jacob announces that he is leaving for Germany. This creates rapture in their relationship. The rest of the gang deals with Jacob’s decision differently (getting angry or sad or supportive) while they try to escape the thoughts about their own future in their home town. The fifth member of the gang is an old man called Miki (aged 70). He is a retired actor and wanders around the town reciting poetry to unsuspecting people. He comes and goes as he wants. The rest of the gang considers him some kind of prophet and patiently listens to his poetic rants. He actually serves as an anti-prophet, having insight only in things past . The emotional tension created by Jacob’s decision resolves in Nechko’s birtday party where, fueled with alcohol, everybody reaches some kind of notion about their future.