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News 25 Sep 16

Serbia's Bitef Shows no Signs of Slowing in 50th Year

Belgrade's most important theatre festival, Bitef, is celebrating its golden anniversary this year, and offers a strong programme that doesn’t compromise the seriousness and enthusiasm on which the festival was built.

David Galic
BIRN
Belgrade
Croatia’s “On the Grave of Ignorant Europe” play will be performed in Belgrade on October 2 at the Madlenianum Theatre. Photo: Drazen Sokcevic.

During the festival, Belgrade theatre fans will get to see twelve different theatre performances until October 2.

Bitef’s slogan this year is the somewhat abstract “On the Back of the Frenzied Bull,” a metaphor for the turbulent times that Europe is currently going through.

Bitef has never been about making suggestions as to where theatre is going or should go.

Instead, it has always been an artistic project that looks to open up discussions and raise questions regarding contemporary issues that affect the world in which we live and, in effect, the theatre world as well.

The Bitef staff always ensures that the annual performances speak to relevant and current topics and this year is no exception. Many of the theatrical performances on this year’s schedule address the current refugee crisis that has shaken Europe and continues to have very real political, cultural and social ramifications across the entire continent.

Bitef Art Director Ivan Medenica told the press conference that “the closing of borders, raising of fences, European isolation and neo-colonialist views that western Europe has towards non-European people,” are only some of the topics that are touched on at this year's Bitef.

“We are witnesses to the fact that barbed wire and walls are going up in Europe again, and we are once again on the border between the rich North and poor South,” Medenica said, adding that there is a similar feeling of tension in the air as there was when the festival
was founded half a century ago, when Yugoslavia found itself in between the
East and West.

As far as innovations go, organizers have announced the Bitef Amphitheater and the Bitef Library will give theatre fans a peek into the master theses of students who graduated from the Faculty of Dramatic Arts during the former Yugoslavia era.

The festival also features a meeting of the international congress of the International
Association of Theatre Critics, which means that more than 100 critics from 40 different countries will be in attendance.

In addition, honoured guest Nigerian academic Femi Osofisan will be receiving
the international award for theatre criticism this year at the festival.

Tickets cost in between five and €22, depending on the performance. If you
are interested in a more detailed rundown of the programme, head over to
Bitef's official website: www.bitef.rs.

This article was published in BIRN's bi-weekly newspaper Belgrade Insight. Here is where to find a copy.

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