Blesok no. 89, March-April, 2013
On (theatrical) miracles and anonymity
A page out of BITEF Theater’s Myrrh and Cinnamon
The craftsmanship of a theatrical imprint, today, in the era of the ‘all possible’, is based almost entirely on the absence of the same. Namely, we relish small-scale, simple decisions, without much pomp and pretentious circumstance. We reward all those performers and productions that have been made possible due to the consistency of an idea, an impetus for creating and depicting. We ask for consistency without the unnecessary repetitiveness, for liveliness without cyclicality, for playfulness without succession. Or simply put, we expect a miracle without the hype of excess, all in the span of two curtain calls.
Yet oftentimes for such a miracle to see the theatrical light a string of small and big miraculous moments, in front and behind the curtains, are needed. During the last theatrical season, Belgrade’s professional theatres certainly tried their share of authentic attempts for authentic miracles. Some even undersigned by Macedonian miracle-makers. Some successful, commercially and idea-wise. Some quite playful. Some rather unnecessary. To borrow from Belgrade’s theatrologist and BITEF father, Jovan Ćirilov, some did not even have to happen. We could have done without them.
(It’s easy to write about productions whose mediocrity lends itself to criticism, but that is an entirely different conversation). The successful ones, particularly those which were fortunate to receive commercial success, will be ‘on’ for some time, at least while the principal miracle-makers have any use of such a playfulness. But what are we to make of their success siblings, at least when it comes to a shared degree of creativity if not commercial bravado. Will they too experience the well-deserved open stage applause, by the multiple and diverse audiences? Particularly if the principal miracle-makers of the splendid creative playfulness are unknowns? While experiencing, for the second time, the successful co-production between BITEF Theatre and a Dutch choreography team (Guy Weitzman and Roni Haver) titled Myrrh and Cinnamon, I could not help but wonder about its (theatrical) future. Namely, the almost hour-ful running time of this magically creative solution, moved through the able bodies of the seven young dancers – part classically trained, part children of Belgrade’s acrobatic circles – asks us to consider the timeline of its repertory life. As a dance play, Myrrh and Cinnamon, seems bound to outlive the end of the current theatrical seasons, as there is evident and apparent interest in the young homo ludens without which this miracle of a story would not be. They will certainly be hired by better known directors, almost to sweeten up the theatrical offerings at the bigger halls in JDP, Atelje 212, Pozorishte na Terazije [the chief musical theatre] or even the Zemun-based Madlenianum. Thus, the cloak of anonymity will be replaced by the moniker – look, it’s the Myrrh and Cinnamon kids. But what is to become of the idea called Myrrh and Cinnamon? What is its future? This theatrical spectacle (less the display, more the event), neither singularly dance-based nor particularly dramatic – I’d say, more like the offspring of environmental theater – seems forever housed by the old Dorcol church that the BITEF Theater uses as its home. An excellent (theatre) home, yet sadly so if it remains on its own, as a solitary (and isolated) space.
The playfulness of the story, not that Biblical I must admit (though, in part inspired by the sensuality of The Song of Songs), energized by the dexterous corporeality of the seven dance-actors that wrestle – with themselves, with each other, with the idea itself – for 50 odd minutes about (our) inherent right to dance, both vertically, and horizontally, and ontologically, is what the main halls of the renowned Belgrade theaters need. In them, respectively so, we chance upon an excellently conceived theatre. However, what is oftentimes sadly missing is a story traced through bodies (souls, hearts, beings) that believe in its power and are unafraid to surrender to its magic, hoping to learn a thing or two. Thus, I hope sincerely that Myrrh and Cinnamon will present Belgrade and its theatrical season an entirely novel theatrical friendship, through a playfulness of the body and spirit.