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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 88 | volume XVI | January-February, 2013



                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 88January-February, 2013

Mueller's The Hamletmachine at the National Theatre in Bitola

p. 1
Nataša Avramovska

Amidst the hustle and bustle of the daily political turmoil that have exacted their toil on the theatre scene in Macedonia, at present, the opening of the new alternate stage at the National Theatre in Bitola lends itself as a highly symbolic act. This stage saw the premiere of Heiner Mueller's The Hamletmachine, directed by Urbán András, whence out of the heart of the underground darkness, with the full force of artistic integrity, on December 29th, 2012, the following unequivocal self-legitimizing theatrical announcement was symbolically performed:
    Here Lives Mephistopheles!

    The self-sacrificing commitment of each member of the theatrical team (in terms of their functional as well as personal integrity) while enacting the reality of the artistic fiction is an announcement which brings to light the sacrificial candle. Under its trembling playfulness, we can equally spot the lightness and the shadows that signify its absence. The play is consistently and thoroughly, from start to finish, performed in a space whence the uncompromising self-facing happens before the unfortunate cry – “Lights! Turn on the lights!” – that is to dispel the darkness (force it under a bed or rug, no matter).
    The geniality of this production unmistakably lies in the fusion between the collective artistic and dramaturgical symbiosis enacted while reading and building on Mueller’s text against the backdrop of the current Macedonian social, public, cultural scene. Certainly, this particular text by Mueller is particularly handy in this regard. Written as an anti-drama in five fragmented (almost thrown together) monologues – set against an absence of plot and characters while recalling the semantic potential of Shakespeare’s trademark figures: Hamlet, the Father’s Ghost, the Mother, Horatio, and Ophelia, whilst summoning up the abyss of the intellectual’s revolution that happens to carry the weight of Europe’s ruins as history enacts itself through a series of totalitarian regimes, one replacing the other – Mueller’s text allows for numerous directorial adaptations. In fact, according to Sanja Nikičević, the latter is what affords the text its long-standing popularity, much like Büchner’s Woyzeck. In this particular staging, however, what comes evidently across, at least as far as the Macedonian public is concerned, is the close collaboration between the guest-director from Subotica, Urbán András, and the ensemble of the National Theatre in Bitola. Namely, what persists is the director’s skillfulness when getting the actors to recognize “gutturally” the meanings introduced by Mueller’s text, and thus develop them, “from the gut”, into

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