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One of Shakespeare’s early historical plays, whose Serbian adaptation made a good impression on the British theatre public, will open in the National Theatre in Belgrade on Friday.
|Rehearsal in Belgrade | Photo by Sonja Zugic|
The play, directed by Nikita Milivojevic, is a modern adaptation of the first part of the trilogy about the loss of England's French territories and will be performed for the first time in the National Theatre of Serbia. It gathered positive reviews from critics and the audience in London’s Globe Theatre where it was part of the Culture Olympics in mid-May.
Milivojevic’s adaptation of the play is a combination of the original Shakespeare text, realistic costumes, body language, scene movement and timeless scenery consisting of a symbolic round table where all the important political decisions are presented.
Music for the play, written and performed by the flutist Bora Dugic, is enriched with Serbian folk. The director also did not hesitate to include a modern touch with a song by Edith Piaf that evokes the atmosphere of the French court.
Nikita Milivojevic said that he is excited with the play’s success in London, and he modestly attributed it to the cooperation with the actors on the preparation of Henry VI, which lasted for six months.
“It is quite exciting when actors love the play they are performing,” he said, adding that the scale of the success this play brought to the Serbian theatre will be recognized in years to come, when observed from a historical distance.
|Rehearsal in London's Globe | Photo by Vladimir Markovic|
The manager of the National Theater Bozidar Djurovic said that the Serbian adaptation of Henry VI, “was awarded with the highest grade among 37 plays that participated in the Culture Olympics”.
“I hope that this success can be fully repeated in Belgrade,” said Djurovic, adding that the Henry VI parts 2 and 3, that were performed in London as part of the so called “Balkan trilogy” by theaters from Albania and Tirana, will soon come to Belgrade.
“Negotiations with our friends and colleagues from Tirana and Bitola are underway,” said Djurovic, adding that Henry VI part 1 is officially listed as part of the most important theatre festival in Serbia, Bitef, which will be held in September.
Classical and modern
All of the actors agreed that the Serbian version of Henry VI is a modern play, but that it also preserves classical theatre style.
Predrag Ejdus, one of the most experienced actors in the cast who portrays the bishop of Winchester, said that Milivojevic’s contribution to the play is that “he simplified it, and made it more comprehensible for the audience.”
“The best thing about the play is our collective energy,” Ejdus added.
|Rehearsal Belgrade | Photo by Sonja Zugic|
Aleksandar Sreckovic, who plays Charles, the King of France, said that Milivojevic’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s play is the essense of a modern artistic achievement.
“On the one hand, it is not ashamed of our nationality, and on the other, it does not oversimplify Shakespeare. This is a remarkable event for the Serbian theatre,” said Sreckovic.
Pavle Jerinic who plays Vernon said that the play shows that classical theater “survives in a phenomenal way”.
Young actor Hadzi Nenad Maricic who plays Henry, the title role, stressed that the performance in London was a great success for Serbia.
“What we have shared with England, we will now share with Serbia,” he promised.
Molina Udovicki, drama director for the National Theatre, said that she hopes that the play will be performed on international tours.
“I recently discovered that there are a lot of Shakespeare festivals all over the world every year. I hope that our play will guest in some of them,” she says.
In addition to the premiere on Friday, an exhibition of photographs and videos from the rehearsals and the performance in London will be in the National Theatre’s History Museum.
Donors spent hundreds of thousands of euro building a new museum in Gjirokastra - but the results were questionable and it ultimately closed over an ideological dispute.
Is everybody in? The ceremony is about to begin…