Milosevic at the Hague
This fall, Professor Milan Dragicevich, Serious Play! and a company that included UMass students and alumni journeyed to Serbia to present Milan's piece, Milosevic at the Hague, at a theater festival there. The piece wound up winning a festival award and the participants described the entire experience — travel, festival, and all — as life-changing.
- A message from Milan Dragicevich
- A slideshow of the trip, with images and captions by cast member Adrienne Paquin
- Award-winning theater
- Blogging the Festival
- Production pictures
- Serious Play!
As I glance across the two weeks in Serbia, it is difficult to describe this amazing journey. Every day was an adventure.
We came to the Balkans not as tourists but as participants—and therein lies the magic. JOAKIM INTERFEST was a wonderful and intimate theater festival, where we performed with and met artists from England, Italy, Romania, Macedonia, Croatia, and Serbia. The national press covered this festival extensively, as well as national television and radio, and the subject matter of our play was greeted with nervous and barely concealed anticipation. Upon arriving in Kragujevac, I learned, much to my amazement, that my play was the first play in Serbia (probably in the Balkans) to focus on the life of Slobodan Milosevic, a subject area that no previous domestic Serbian playwright had tackled. So the media was all over it, especially since an American Serb (!) had chosen to write and stage it.
Opening night, the tension was palpably thick, as people from all political stripes--Western-styled Democrats, Communists, Socialists, hardcore nationalists--poured into the theater. You could hear a pin drop as the play began. Everyone leaned forward, hanging on every word or image. The cast and crew were great, as they were baptized in the fire of the Balkans. The audience began responding and we kept driving the play forward. Each audience member seemed to find their own path into the story--and I think this is what the audience (as a whole) appreciated: the play was not a "polemic" or overtly "political" vehicle. The critical reviews were quite positive and well articulated. The post show conversations for Milosevic u Hagu (the Serbian translation of the title) were intense, complicated, passionate, sometimes combative or controversial.
We met so many interesting people in Serbia, had many great talks and debates, and I am sure that we formed the beginnings of some long-lasting new friendships. The streets were always full of life, as people relaxed in the ubiquitous outdoor "gardens" full of cigarette smoke and animated conversations. We even managed to get out into the unexplored green countryside and visit some ancient 15th century monasteries (with their fading but beautiful wall frescoes and mystically calming atmosphere).
Thanks for listening. "Vidimo se uskoro."
Press conference on opening night
Milan with Slobodan Savic, Belgrade TV theatre critic and press conference host.
Some of the local press coverage Milan mentions:
Two pieces that appeared in Danas:
A piece that appeared in Politika
Cast member Adrienne Paquin documented the trip on her blog and in images. Scroll through this slideshow for images from the trip, with Adrienne's comments and reminiscences in the captions (mouseover to read). Unless noted, photos are by Adrienne Paquin.
Milan and Sheryl Stoodley accepting the Special Award from the festival for the show at the awards ceremony on the last evening of the JoakimInterFest. (photo by Robin Doty)
Milosevic at the Hague was awarded a special jury prize, the SPECIAL JOAKIM INTERFEST AWARD. This award was given, according to the press announcement, to the "Most daring play, skilled and dramatically well-assembled," and for its "multimedia, socially engaged and neutral approach to the painful subjects that the author, Milan Dragicevich, with Serious Play and Sheryl Stoodley, transformed into a very successful and artistically coherent play, Milosevic at the Hague."
Company member Adrienne Paquin has kindly agreed to let us join her, if only electronically, on the trip. She'll be writing about the company's adventures (and may entice some of her fellow cast members to contribute as well), on her blog, Milo Goes To Serbia!
Read the blog
Images from the original Northampton production in February 2009.
Serious Play! Theatre Ensemble, founded 15 years ago in Northampton, was recognized in 2000 as the best small theater company in Massachusetts by the Massachusetts Cultural Council. The ensemble has toured to the Fifth International Women Playwrights Festival in Greece, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, the Boston Center for the Arts, Rosemary Branch Theatre in London, the Actors Theatre in NYC, and the 16th Annual KO Festival of Performance in Amherst. Elizabeth Swados, Alice Tuan, Migdalia Cruz, Lenelle Moise, and Jonathan Croy are among the theater artists who have collaborated on productions with
Serious Play!, which is a member of NET, the Network of Ensemble Theaters.