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While some condemn the jury's decision not to award several prizes this year to any of the selected plays, others see it as a useful starting point for fresh discussion on the state of Serbian theatre.
This year’s Sterijino pozorje theatre festival in Novi Sad from May 25 to June 2 awarded “Radnici umiru pevajuci” ("Workers Die Singing"), a production of Hartefact foundation and Bitef, the prizes for best play, best script, best scene music and best young actress.
But the unanimous decision of the five-member jury of theatre artists, actors, and directors not to award prizes for best actor, best young actor, best set and best costume design, has caused more controversy.
|Branislav Lecic | Youtube printscreen|
Actor Branislav Lecic, who presided over the jury, said no awards were made for these categories because the criteria were not fulfilled.
“We didn't award the best young actor as there were none to choose from, while none of the sets and costume designs in any of the plays met the required criteria,” Lecic said.
Critics of the jury’s decision have called it shameful, noting that such awards were always give out at the festival over the years.
The loudest critic has been the director of Belgrade's Atelje 212 theatre, Kokan Mladenovic, whose production of “Otac na sluzbenom putu,” ("Father is Away on Business"), opened this year’s Sterijino pozorje.
Mladenovic said the jury had acted arrogantly, placing themselves above “all of us who are involved in this business.
“He [Lecic] says that they couldn’t award the best young actor because there wasn’t one. But the excellent young Hungarian actor Tamas Hajdu played his role very well,” Mladenovic said.
|Kokan Mladenovic | Youtube printscreen|
He added that Atelje 212 would no longer participate in the “embarrassment called Sterijino pozorje... not because of the awarded prizes but because of those that weren’t awarded.
“After this decision of the jury, Sterijino pozorje should be cancelled at all cost, or the management should make radical reforms,” Mladenovic added.
Asked to reply to Mladenovic’s outburst, Lecic said that “Mladenovic will not be the manager of Atelje 212 forever” and described his arguments as wrong.
Ksenija Radulovic, who selected the plays for this year’s Sterijino pozorje, said some awards had been left out by the jury in previous years, including the main award for best play.
“Under the statute, the jury has all the right not to award a prize, although such decisions are not popular,” she said.
The jury makes its decisions autonomously, and the job of the festival is only to delegate this responsibility to the five chosen experts, she added.
Festival director Milivoje Mladjenovic, in an attempt to calm the row, said the jury’s decision should be seen as a starting place for a creative discussion.
“Does this decision speak of theatre’s poverty and lack of ideas, or of a completely new kind of theatre?” he asked.
The awards that were not given, Mladjenovic said, pose questions about the state of those categories in modern Serbian theatre.
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