Middentity – identify.middle.eu

International Theatre Festival Divadelná Nitra
Czech Republic, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Austria, Slovakia, Slovenia, 2007
Authors: Petr Marek (CZ), Bobo Jelčić (HR), Zoltán Balázs (HU), Agnieszka Olsten (PL), David Maayan (AT), Miklós Forgács (SK), Ivana Djilas (SI)
Directed by Petr Marek (CZ), Bobo Jelčić (HR), Zoltán Balázs (HU), Agnieszka Olsten (PL), David Maayan (AT), Miklós Forgács (SK), Ivana Djilas (SI)

about the production

In Europe there exists different historical and cultural experience out of which the Central-European one is one of the most difficult to describe. The area of the Central-European experience covers the region of a number of states where live different cultures and different languages are spoken. Nevertheless, in any of these countries there is no term for such experience and we can describe it only very roughly: not according to the political borders, which are usually the results of invasions, usurpations, myths and compromises, but according to the commonly experienced situations, common problems and conflicts, common memories, traditions and spiritual values in general. There are plenty of reasons to doubt about a mere existence of such a Central Europe.

To doubt about the existence of everything, including and mainly the own existence is a part of the gear of every Central-European. The image of the world typical for the nations of Central Europe stands on distrust – the distrust chiefly of the history created by victors and conquerors. The family of small nations found itself on the reverse side of history – among the defeated, victims and outsiders. In the essay concerning Central Europe, Milan Kundera defines small nations as those whose existence can be questioned in any moment. A small nation realises that it can disappear in a minute and as an example of such a life feeling he cites the first verse of the Polish national anthem: „Jeszcze Polska nie zginęła“ (Poland is not yet dead).

For the middentity project we asked seven directors from Central Europe having an ambition to examine various forms of identities in Central Europe. Seven participating countries suggest the expectation that the project will show typical features of nations or countries.

But it is only when we look on the composition of the creative team that we realize that it is not anything like a theatrical Miss Central Europe: David Maayan lives and works in Vienna although he was born and spent much of his life in Israel. Miklós Forgács comes from a family of Hungarian Slovaks and writes his texts in two languages.

Zoltán Balázs was born in Romania and before moving to Budapest he also visited elementary school there as a child. Ivana Djilas lives in Ljubljana but until graduating from university she lived in Belgrade. Bobo Jelčić moved from Bosnian Mostar into Croatian Zagreb only after the war events in the early 1990s. The crises of national identities – a theme more like for media and politicians. Theatre can give a better picture of the specific ways of solution of fundamental existential situations. The episodes of the middentity production can prove it: The Sea is Calling by Zdeněk Petr Marek depicts a thirtysomething who lacks the courage to start a new life and transforms his frustration into neo-romantic songs following the example of the group called Oceán. In the Potatao by Miklós Forgács, the main, constantly travelling, character cannot find the place where he could peacefully settle and continue on the traditions of his family. Fourtysomething Igor Šinkovec, in Ivana Djilas and Andrej E. Skubic´s Fužine Blues, who could not adapt to the new situation after the revolution, found himself in a social isolation and can draw attention to himself only by extremist opinions and sociopathic behaviour. The main hero of the Self- punishment

by Bobo Jelčić and Nataša Rajković, learns to accept all punches and blows without the intentions to return them. In David Maayan´s episode we see Melita Jurisic handling her own memories of the life of a Croatian in the Australian emigration and solving the problem whether it is possible to get a distance from one’s own story. Also Zoltán Balázs draws the audience’s attention to the actor. In his improvisation Ádám Tompa performs many ways of how are the decisions and expressions of an individual influenced by media information of places and stories which do not relate to him directly. And there is also Agnieszka Olsten with her video-installation of The Panties in which she shows ritual ways by which one can get rid of the chains of own history and can defend one’s self against the individuals whom he or she did not want to meet with.

The stories of many of the participants of the project, consisting of a mosaic of different, not only national, influences, are symptomatic for the majority of the Central-European population. They depict the world through the view (and language) of a “bastard” that spoils the already existing categories of behaviour. Or vice versa – it cannot fit the already existing categories of realization. As Slovak visual artist Boris Ondreička shows in his text/installation of the Bastard is more Faithful in the nineties – the reality we live has the meaning, the problem is only that we do not have an adequate language to capture this “meaning”. We have only two possibilities: either we can communicate with people, and by this resign ourselves to the search of an universal language that will strike the rest of the world, or we can take the communication as something secondary and devote the whole energy to the creation of a new language – the language of the world. It is the same with the Central-European identity: we can search for it in the communication with people or in the solitude of our room over a sheet of white paper. The first way can drown us in communication without the transcendence to the higher meaning. The second way often leads to the result that is not to be shared with any one but ourselves. And a bastard is more faithful.
Ján Šimko


dramaturgy: Ján Šimko
stage and costume design: Jerguš Opršal
production of the stage: workshop of the Andrej Bagar Theatre in Nitra and Karol Spišák Old Theatre in Nitra

scripts and directed by:
David Maayan (AT) – The Second and the Fifth
Bobo Jelčić (HR) – The Self-punishment
Petr Marek (CZ) – The Sea is Calling
Zoltán Balász (HU) – The Big March
Agnieszka Olsten (PL) – The Panties
Ivana Djilas (SI) – The Fužine Blues
Miklós Forgács (SK) – Potatao
cast: Melita Jurisic (AT), Zdeněk Hudeček (CZ), Nikša Butijer (HR), Ádám Tompa (HU), Agnieszka Olsten (PL), Ivana Djilas (SI), Miklós Forgács (SK)


Bobo Jelčić (1964, Bosna)
Graduated on the Academy of Drama Art Zagreb. Since 1993 he is working together with Nataša Rajković. First collaboration was on performance Die Fremdenfuhrerin by Botho Strauss, then Die Garagen by J. Arjouni (Theatre Gavella, Zagreb, 1994) and Woyzeck by Büchner (Croatian National Theatre, Varazdin, 1995).  Since 1996, they have been writing and directing their own projects, searching for contemporary alternatives to classical and conceptual forms of theatre. Promatranja (Observations, 1997) makes use of the personal stories of the two writers and actors; Usporavanja (Slowing Down, 1998) and Nesigurna prica (Uncertain Story, 1999) use unfinished conversations, banal situations, minimalist sets and striking simplicity to tackle the life of theatre, the life in theatre and the theatre in life. Prizes: Usporavanja – the price for the best performance at Festival Little Scenes in Rijeka, Nesigurna priča – audience prize for the best performance and the prize for the best Directing at the prestigious Croatian Theatre Festival in Split. Prize for the best dramaturgy at the "Festival malih scena" in Rijeka. Price Orlando for the best performance – Dubrovnik Summer festival 2004.


David Maayan (* 1953, Israel) Theatre director, translator, pedagogist. David Maayan studied acting and directing at the Department of Theatre Arts at Tel Aviv University, Faculty for Arts. In 1980 he participated in Akko Fringe Festival. He organized a group and produced Alterman's The Ghosts Inn, which received the first prize that year. He founded The Theatre Centre, Akko, where he has directed his much praised, five-hour production of Arbeit macht frei (1996), shown extensively in Akko and international festivals. He taught at the Theater Department of Tel Aviv University, Theater Department of Haifa University, at the School for Theater of the Shlomi Center, at Vienna University, department for theater and communication. Among his last works: the project Family Table presented also for the Wiener Festwochen (2005), the UBU complex – preparation of a new project at the Schauspielhaus Vienna (2006). His another directions: sputnik – own text, The Baled Cantatrice by Ionesco, The Chairs by Ionesco, Car Cemetery by F. Arrabal, etc.


Miklós Forgács (1973, Slovakia)
He graduated from the Academy of Music and Dramatic Art in Bratislava where he studied theatre direction. During studies he dramatized and staged short-stories by the Estonian writer Mati Unt and by Edgar Allan Poe. He directed own versions of Chekhov’s plays – Uncle Vanya and The Seagull, later plays by Karl Wittliger, Leopold Lahola, Ferenc Molnár... As a dramatic adviser, he worked with the director Eduard Kudláč in Žilina, were they put William Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Heiner Müller. Later he worked together with alternative Theatre Pôtoň in Levice, and made scenic read-outs based on the plays by Pavol Klesa (Martin Heidegger Dichterisch wohnet der Mensch), by Michal Ditte (Two Words of Belissa Twilighty… The story of Eva Luna) and by Eva Maliti-Fraňová (The Visionary’s Dream). Together with Géza Hizsnyan, he translated a contemporary Czech drama by Roman Sikora entitled Antigone Swept Away into Hungarian language. From 2004 he has worked as an editor for regions in the daily Új Szó. For the Festival Divadelná Nitra 2006 he created within the OFF Programme a theatre performance titled Forever Senior with the topic of pension reform.


Petr Marek (1974, Czech Republic)
Graduated the film theory at Charles University in Prague. He shot several short and 7 full-length movies, e. g. 2001 – Love from above, 2006 Not of today, in collaboration with Jan Nemec Nighttalks with mother, with Jan Gogola Situation of the street. As musician he is playng with the band MIDI LIDI, as theatre actor and author he appeared Dekadentní divadlo Beruška, Radio Ivo, LÁHOR /Soundsystem, Vosto5, Studio Ypsilon. Recently was teaching at directing department of FAMU in Prague.


Zoltán Balázs (1977, Romania)
He studied directing and acting at Academy of Film and Dramatic Arts in Budapest. In 2001 he has become the artistic director of Maladype Theatre in which he staged the majority of the most significant productions: Acropolis by Wyspianski (Maladype Theatre 2006), – Zoltán Balázs nominated to Gundel Prize; The Blacks by Jean Genet – (Maladype Theatre & Bárka Theatre, 2004) – Theatre Critics´ Prize for Lázsló Sáry as composer, ARTISJUS award for the company, Gundel Prize nomination for Zoltán Balázs as director and leading actress (Nóra Parti); School for Fools Michel de Ghelderode (Maladype Theatre, 2003) – Theatre Critics´ Prize for best independent performance, and awarded by Budapest Cultural Committee for best independent company. As an actor, he has got some awards too. He works as a pedagogist in the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music, Department of Solo Singing – acting.


Agnieszka Olsten (1977, Poland)
She studied direction at the Academy of Drama and Theatre in Warsaw. She is a founder of the Collegium Civitas Theatre in Warsaw. Before studying direction, she had studied journalism and worked as a radio reporter. In her provocative directions, she tries to apply a new view to contemporary dramatic pieces and at the same time, she accents their social dimension. She modifies texts massively and adapts them. She also writes her own scripts.   The most important of them are:  Oxygen (based on Ivan Vyrypajev), Solo (she wrote it with Andrzej Stasiuk and it is a confession of a man sentenced to death) and Surplus (an abortion game) on which she co-operated with the Quick Urban Theatre and which is based on the role of playing games and the Monopoly game.  For OFF Programme of the Festival Divadelná Nitra 2005 she staged the text of RIMINI PROTOKOLL titled Sabenation (Go home and follow the news).

Ivana Djilas (1976, Serbia)
Theatre and radio director. Graduated of the studium of theatre directing at University of Ljubljana – Academy for Theater, Radio, Film and TV. She was acting as director at various theatres of Serbia and Slovenia. For her directing work she has got several prizes: 2007 – Festival Marulićevi Days Split – Special Prize for best performance and best puppet animation for Milan Štefe (This Bed Is Too Short, Nina Mitrović); 2003 – Biennale of Puppet theatre – Maribor – Special Prize for best performance, and best puppet animation for Milan Štefe (puppet production When No One Had Nothing To Do) 2003 – PIKIN FESTIVAL Velenje, Best performance: Georges Marvellous Medicine (Roald Dahl).  In Belgrade radio stations prepared documentary radio plays and programmes on arts, at TV entertainment programmes and cultural programme. She writes for theatre magazines SCENA and LUDUS (Belgrade) and MASKA (Ljubljana). For PISMO, magazine for contemporary literature and translating (Belgrade) translated a play Knives in Hens (David Harrower).