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Theatrical Landscape of Serbia

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Theatrical Landscape of Serbia
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With the downfall of socialistic realism, which had turned into the official aesthetic of Belgrade as a cultural support, the avant-garde drama lost its heretical aura. At the same time several political and social problems occurred, and for some time students and critical intellectuals did some serious demonstrating.

Dedicated drama under Tito
The constantly alert Serbian playwrights reacted immediately. A new middle-aged generation distinguished itself, and "a few new lads" performed very critical plays, which were partly declared as subversive and anti-socialistic. A few (at Tito's personal command) were prohibited, like the play "When pumpkins blossomed" after the novel by Dragoslav Mihailović. It is about the fate of a person who decided for Stalin and against Tito in 1948 and was brought to the Goli Otok camp, a kind of Gulag, where the author had been himself. The author's thesis: "Tito fought Stalinists by means of Stalinistic methods."

The most interesting and distinctive figure amongst the playwrights of that time was Aleksandar Popović (1929 – 1996). This author, who one could call a Lope de Vega due to his extensive works, distinguishes himself with the avant-garde manner, unusual fragmented structure and slang of the suburbs which he used in his plays, which is why they can be hardly translated. At the same time he was the initiator and supporter of the new dedicated Serbian drama.

Poetry and Society
This individual author was followed by many dedicated playwrights, who however belonged to the realistic direction. In first place was Dušan Kovačević (1948), who's many popular comedies with verbal humour stand in tradition to Branislav Nušić (1894 – 1938). Furthermore the young female playwrights should be mentioned, who are all graduates of the Belgrade Faculty of Dramatic Art. In the seventies there were Deana Leskovar and Milica Novković and from the eighties onwards Biljana Srbljanović, whose plays were produced about a hundred times across the world, especially in Germany after the introduction of the "Belgrade Trilogy" at the biannual festival in Bonn in 1998.

After Biljana Srbljanović, Milena Marković became known, less mimetic, with poetic flights, an innovative technique and daydream elements. Other young female playwrights who have different styles but all deal with the problems of today's society are readily produced, like Milena Bogavac (one of the few authors who works with the stage director when preparing her plays), Maja Pelević, Jelena Kajga et al.

Special emphasis must be put on the great Serbian poet and academy member Ljubomir Simović (1935). His plays are characterised by clear contents and well-defined characters, but also by an extraordinary poetic aura and rich language. The young playwrights Nebojša Romčević, Uglješa Šajtinac and Filip Vujošević are less poetic than Ljubomir Simović, but nevertheless deal more directly with the present problems.