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22 Jan 13

Serbs Prepare Play in Honour of Constantine

Theatres from Nis and Belgrade have started preparing a play about the Roman emperor Constantine, which will be performed as a part of the celebrations dedicated to the Edict of Milan.

Nemanja Cabric
BIRN Belgrade
Theatre Director Jug Radivojevic | Photo by Nemanja Cabric

The play, an epic story about the first Christian emperor, directed by theatre director Jug Radivojevic and written by Dejan Stoiljkovic, will bring together 22 actors from theatre companies from several towns and cities.

These are Nis, Belgrade, Krusevac, Kragujevac, Leskovac, Zajecar and Mitrovica.


Stoiljkovic's award-winning novel, "Constantine’s Crossing", set in World War II, served as a starting point for the drama that has been adapted from the book.

The new drama, "Constantine: Angelic Sign", Stoiljkovic's first drama, tells of the transformation of Constantine from commander and a warrior to Christian convert.

"I tried to show Constantine both as ruler, a reformer and as a man of flesh and blood," Stoiljkovic said at a press conference in the National Theatre Museum in Belgrade, which joined the director and the whole cast on Tuesday.

He said that the play's most important message was that Constantine conquered heaven, but not with fire and sword, but with virtue.

Director Radivojevic added that the play will show that anyone can change, "even a whole nation.

"The play will deal with Constantine's spiritual transformation. It is an extremely complex dramatic piece," he said.

He added that the cast will present something like a Serbian acting dream team, including actors from many smaller theatres across the country as well as those from the capital.

Actor Miodrag Krivokapic, Old Constantine (left) and writer Dejan Stoiljkovic (right)

The main roles will go to Vuk Kostic who will play the young Constantine, and Miodrag Krivokapic, who will play the older Emperor.

The cast will include Mirko Babic from Kragujevac as Constantine’s father, Boza Marjanovic from Leskovac as Vibius Alban, and Miroslav Jovic from Nis as Lycinius.

Some 12 of the 22 actors come from theatres in the off-the-beaten-track region of southeast Serbia.

Radivojevic said that this fact alone presented an example of cultural decentralization. "This way, we will have a decentralized production that is still under the national umbrella," he noted.

National Theatre in Belgrade director Dejan Savic said the play will be performed independently of the celebrations in Nis - the emperor's birthplace - marking the 1,700th anniversary of the Edict of Milan of 313. The proclamation established religious toleration for the Christian faith throughout the Roman Empire.

Nis will join a list of other cities in 2013 marking the event, including York, the city where he was proclaimed emperor, and Milan itself.

"The play will travel everywhere where Serbs live, and will continue to be performed after the Milan Edict [celebrations]," Savic added.

Radivojevic said that the preparations will last for five weeks, and that 51 rehearsals will be conducted in that time.

The play will have its premiere in the National Theatre in Nis on February 27, while on March 4 it will be shown in Belgrade.

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