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08 Nov 12

Embattled Serbian Theatre Manager Quits

Kokan Mladenovic, manager of the Belgrade theatre Atelje 212, has given in to pressure from hostile actors and the City of Belgrade to resign.

Nemanja Cabric
BIRN Belgrade
Kokan Mladenovic | Photo: Youtube

Mladenovic signed his resignation letter on Thursday after the newly formed Cultural Council of Belgrade supported a petition drawn up on June 5 by 25 actors calling for him to leave.

The Cultural Council’s call for Mladenovic to go was presented to the Mayor of Belgrade, Dragan Djilas on Wednesday.

The document states that the replacement of the theatre manager would be the least painful and easiest way out of a prolonged conflict between him and some of the actors in the theatre.

At a press conference on Thursday, Mladenovic said that his main responsibility as a manager was to secure "continuation of the work process", and, choosing between his own career and Atelje 212, he had chosen the second option.

"After five months of conflicts that blocked the functioning of a great theatre company... I have handed in my resignation", he said.

Belgrade City Assembly, the founder of the theatre, which named Mladenovic manager in 2009, is expected to adopt his resignation on Friday, when it will name an acting manager.

Mladenovic's three years as manager had a positive influence on the theatre reflected in healthy ticket sales. Performances sold out, and according to some actors, he made it one of the most productive theatres in the region.

Struggling with tight budgets for new shows, Mladenovic often made public statements criticizing the cultural system.

But many actors and board members resented what they considered his high-handed behaviour towards them.

The petition on June 5 asked for Mladenovic’s replacement, citing his “arbitrariness, arrogance, bad taste, self-marketing, dilettantism, disdain for actors, sowing seeds of evil among actors” among other factors. According to the actors, it was the fourth time in 18 months that they had sought his removal.

In the meantime, the actors held press conferences, protests, and even threatened to go on strike.

Mladenovic noted that because of the conflicts, in past few months several sponsors of the theatre withdrew their financial help and ticket sales started to decrease.

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