The Dark Ages
Theater, Radioplay, Book, Exhibition
What happens to people when their beliefs and states fall to pieces? On what foundations is Europe built? From 1945 to 1995, from the collapse of the Third Reich to the siege of Sarajevo: In the second part of his Europa trilogy, entitled “The Dark Ages”, Milo Rau focusses on the dark history of a Europe in the process of unifying. Actors from Bosnia, Germany, Russia and Serbia tell their stories of displacement and homelessness, of departure and arrival, of dedication and despair. As in Rau’s previous acclaimed production, “The Civil Wars”, and accompanied by music composed for “The Dark Ages” by Slovenian cult band Laibach, its biographical close-ups paint an intimate tableau of a continent which has been broken repeatedly – a political psychoanalysis of our time.
On stage: a podium in the style of the (national) socialist culture of representation. It rotates to reveal an interior. Five actors from Bosnia, Serbia, Germany and Russia sit there and speak to the camera in turns. Their faces are projected onto a large screen, their stories joined together musically over five acts, connecting their biographies with historical questions and events. Interrup- tions to lives enter an exciting dialogue with the major system changes of the ideological period. In the centre we find stories of escape and displacement, of war and new beginnings. While “The Civil Wars” dealt with Western Europe, “The Dark Ages”, 20 years after the Srebrenica massacre and 70 years after the end of World War II, shifts its focus to the East, in particular to the more recent history of violence in the Balkans.
In focus here are the specific views of five individuals: Vedrana Seksan, an actor in the Bosnian National Theatre who tells of her experiences during the siege of Sarajevo, of surviving a hail of grenades as well as of the crisis of a long-lasting postwar period. In Belgrade, Sanja Mitrović danced through the nights of the NATO bombardment before leaving Serbia to work as a per- former and director in the Netherlands, home to UN War Crimes Tribunal. Sudbin Musić, as a Bosniac youth, survived the massa- cre and concentration camp and currently works in his hometown as a human rights activist. He was recently able to identify the remains of his father in a mass grave.
Valery Tscheplanova and Manfred Zapatka from the Munich Residence Theatre ensemble play alongside these three actors with Yugoslavian roots. Zapatka’s memories stretch back to the Ger- man postwar period, to stories of forced housing and the return of his father from war captivity. Valery Tscheplanova emigrated to Germany with her mother from Soviet Kazan. She is a puppeteer, was discovered by Dimiter Gotscheff and toured the world with Heiner Müller’s “Hamletmachine”.
The music for “The Dark Ages” was composed by the Slovenian cult band Laibach who for decades now have been thematisizing the relationship between ideology and art by citing quotations from social realism, “Nazi art” and popular culture. Laibach has had a symbolic meaning for two generations in the Balkans. At their 1989 concert in Belgrade, they predicted a bloody and shameful downfall of Yugoslavia, while their 1995 concert in Sarajevo on the day of the Dayton Agreement marked the end of the Bosnian war. Actors from the “Dark Ages” ensemble were in attendance at the two concerts: Mitrović in Belgrade and Seksan in Sarajevo. In the sense of the Theatrum-Mundi effect, much like in “The Civil Wars”, these biographical stories are brought together by means of ques- tioning both mechanisms and the ways to make the theatrical pro- ductions of power and art, spectacle and politics.
CONCEPT, TEXT & DIRECTION: MILO RAU
TEXT & PERFORMANCE: SANJA MITROVIĆ, SUDBIN MUSIĆ, VEDRANA SEKSAN, VALERY TSCHEPLANOWA, MANFRED ZAPATKA
DRAMATURGY: Stefan Bläske, Sebastian Huber SET & COSTUME DESIGN: Anton Lukas CAMERA & VIDEO DESIGN: Marc Stephan MUSIC: Laibach DRAMATURGICAL ASSISTANTS: Lucia Kramer, Rose Reiter DIRECTION ASSISTANT: Jakub Gawlik TRANSLATION: Marija Karaklajić RESEARCH: Stefan Bläske, Mirjam Knapp PRODUCTION MANAGEMENT IIPM (TOUR): Mascha Euchner- Martinez
A PRODUCTION OF RESIDENZTHEATER MUNICH IN COOPERATION WITH MILO RAU / INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE OF POLITICAL MUR- DER (IIPM)
PREMIERE: 11 APRIL 2015, RESIDENZTHEATER MUNICH // FOL- LOWED BY A PREMIERE CONCERT BY SLOVENIAN GROUP LAIBACH