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19 Nov 13

Hungry for Change on the Stage

Andrej Nosov's unconventional new play, Hunger, not only deals with the modern world's craving for fulfillment but aims to challenge fundamental ideas about what a play really is.

Nemanja Cabric
BIRN Belgrade

Andrej Nosov. | Photo by Nemanja Cabric

Andrej Nosov, lawyer by profession and a finishing student of theatre directing, is adding the final touches to his third play, which deals with human greed and the possibilities of empathy.

Hunger, which premieres on December 6, is unconventional in many ways. It will not be performed in a real theatre for one thing. Instead, the audience will sit with the actors, and there is no finished script but a dramatic text based on improvisation.

As rehearsals continue, he also manages the Heartefact fund, an independent theatre production and a source of financing for various art and activism projects.

In an interview for BIRN, Nosov explains what “hunger“ he is referring to, and why theatre needs to communicate with society by putting on plays that deal with topics of social concern.

“Hunger is a specific theatrical research because a group of actors, a team of authors and me were working together in the research process for six months, making a play without a script of any kind,” he explains over coffee in a café overlooking parliament.

Nosov began his public engagement as an activist, as founder of the Youth Initiative for Human rights in 2003, which he led for seven years, before founding Heartefact in 2009.

Alongside that he studied theatre directing in Belgrade, and has up to now produced seven plays, directing two.

Hunger, his third, will include a number of prominent actors:  Mirjana Karanovic, Branko Cvejic, Aleksandra Jankovic, Hristina Popovic, Vlada Aleksic, Milan Maric and Jovana Gavrilovic.

They will be sitting at a desk along with around 30 guests discussing topics that people have stopped asking themselves about.

“It took six months of improvisation and research, of us telling each other stories from our own lives - an extremely unusual and exciting process,” Nosov says.

“The drama was born out of that process. It is a modern dramatic text.”

The play, made with the support of the Yugoslav Drama Theatre and the Cultural Centre of Belgrade, KCB, will not be performed in a theatre but in the art gallery of KCB, separated from Trg Republike square only by large glass windows.

Besides the audience, consisting of only 35 people, the play will thus be seen by passers-by, although they will not hear it.

“It should be like watching the popular reality show Farm”, Nosov laughs.

“That effect is also important, because all the time we see people but we don’t hear them. Sometimes we even hear them, but then we reflect the things they say upon ourselves.”

Nosov says the most important thing about the show is the creation of intimacy in front of people who are willing to hear others; the goal is to make them think about issues raised and talk about them when they go back home.

“The questions posed are those of essential significance – will I be alone until the rest of my life? Does that mean that even if I have a partner I am in fact all alone?,” he asks.

A play that thematically deals with gluttony, according to Nosov, sends a message that people are in constant need of fulfilling their endless appetites, and have stopped caring about others.

“The play also questions the position of the actor or performer on stage - the very existence of a scene and theatre.

“It also asks questions: will we ever be happy, will we die wanting to get more and more from life?,” Nosov adds.

“Our intention is that when the performance ends, people go home asking themselves when they last had a conversation with their parents, what is happening with their love life, what is happening with solidarity,” Nosov continues.

He says he hopes the audience will recognize the play as challenging, as dealing with things that people are concerned with.

“Art that is merely a decoration, that solely has a purpose to entertain us or make the ambience prettier, is of no interest to be,” he says.

“I think contemporary audiences do not care for it either. It’s boring. Theatre has to concern us and speak about things that matter,” he adds.

According to him, the audience will have chance to see a truly modern, intimate and a powerful show, which focuses on emotions and on everything that we feel but cannot express because “society’s worldview prevents us from doing so”.

The idea of putting the audience in the same place as the actors, according to Nosov, is exciting in itself, as it keeps prompting the audience to ask themselves where reality stops and acting begins.

“We are trying to reach the complete truth, so that nothing spoken on the scene is theatrical and performed, but becomes real … so the visitor gets the same feeling as if they went out to a dinner with their friends.”

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