Nesigurna prica

15,17,18,19, 20 /05
Language: Croatian
Subtitles: Fr & Nl
Duration : 1:30’

How can nothing, something insignificant, be used as subject matter for theatre? Take a very ‘normal’ family in their apartment after lunch. Five actors hold a discussion in front of us – where, when and how does the beginning of a story start? What little gems of relationships and sensations can be found in the seconds that tick by and that we do not even think about? Their labour begins, live in front of us. Out of their luminous ‘game’ of reconstruction, a prism of paths is created that makes the unsuspected facets of the same crystal sparkle during the course of one afternoon when everyone goes about their business as usual. The contours of the story are crafted in Nesigurna prica (Uncertain Story). Natasa Rajkovic (dramatist) and Bobo Jelcic (director) live in Zagreb and work in Teatar&TD, a platform for intellectuals and contemporary artists in Croatia. Their art is ardent and astounding in its simplicity. It seems so… familiar.

Texte et Mise en scène/Tekst en Regie/Text and Direction: Nataša Rajković, Bobo Jelčić

Distribution/Acteurs/Cast: Ana Karić (la mère/de moeder/the mother), Katarina Bistrović Darvaš (la fille/de dochter/the daughter), Dražen Šivak (le fils/de zoon/the son), Tvrtko Jurić (le fils cadet/de jongste zoon/the youngest son), Nataša Dangubić (la petite amie/de vriendin van/Tvrtko’s girl friend)

Musique/Muziek/Music: Arsen Dedić

Décor/Decor/Set Design: Samo Lapajne

Costumes/Kostuums/Costume design: Đurđa Janeš

Eclairages/Lichtontwerp/Lighting design: Miljenko Bengez

Création sonore/Klankontwerp/Sound design: Branko Vodeničar

Scénographie/Scenografie/Stage design: Krunoslav Dolenc

Régisseur de scène/Toneelmeester/Stage manager: Petra Juričić

Production/Productie/Production: Teatar&TD (Zagreb)

Présentation/Presentatie/Presentation: KunstenFESTIVALdesArts

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The stage is bare. Five actors hold a discussion in low voices – the mother, her sons Drazen and Tvrtko, her daughter Katarina and Tvrtko’s girlfriend, Natasa. They are looking for a place to start. “What is a beginning? Is it a turning point? A change? The appearance of an outside element? An impulse from the inside? Or just being aware that a start is about to happen? But are we ever aware of things at the moment they take place? Well, it’s up to us to decide, ‘This is a start’, even if things actually began a lot earlier on!” It is as much a philosophical question as it is a theatrical one.

Natasa Rajkovic and Bobo Jelcic are the writers, dramaturges and directors of this creation equally. “Theatre is too cut off from reality”, is what they think. “It can’t be allowed to lose its relevance. But a topical subject is still not enough. Theatre has to resolve the issue of the actor’s technique in the first instance. In Croatia, classical theatre lacks ambition, whereas ‘alternative’ conceptual theatre is over-ambitious. People have become weary of both. Natasa Rajkovic and Bobo Jelcic have been looking for a way through these two extremes. Wanting to make the most of everyday topics in ordinary lives, they have concentrated on interpreting them credibly, so that out of this remarkable naturalness flows the elements of which we are least aware. Uncertain Story explores the sudden emergence of the random and the hypothetical, the unconfident and the disconcerted, the troubled and the delicate – this uncertainty that escapes us, little stories so close to us, so buried, so instinctive and so profound.

Uncertain Story is the third production written and directed by Bobo and Natasa in close collaboration with actors. All three plays come from the same quest for the profound ‘actualisation’ of the theatrical subject and method. “People in Zagreb stay away from theatre to enjoy other media which are more concrete, more dynamic and more connected to reality. We are aware that theatre is not popular. We are simply trying to make it interesting for people who don’t like it any more or who might never have liked it.” Their first production, Promatranja(Observations), gave the audience the opportunity to follow short dramatic scenes that were independent from each other, by moving around the theatre from its cellar to its roof. It was the first time they removed the sacred aura around theatre and reinvented spontaneity. Their second, Usporavanja (Slowing Down) offered day-to-day scenes of a family, keenly exploring how an actor can give his own flesh, body movements, expressions and distinctive linguistic characteristics to a fictional character. So at first the writing fed on the actor who generated it, making every effort to get to grips with real language, intimate behaviour and unconscious gestures, before moving towards fiction, without anyone being able to distinguish the difference between what is and what appears to be.

Nesigurna Prica (Uncertain Story) goes one step further. It takes up the fictitious members of family from Usporavanja once more, in the same apartment, after lunch, but this time reveals the ‘method of composition’, the inner recipe. How can everyday ingredients be combined to create the magical dish of a theatrical event? On stage, the actors hold discussions. They have been given their own names and create a luminous sensation of real time. Katarina takes things in hand. “We have to decide on a place and a precise moment. A Sunday like every other Sunday, a family that spreads out in the apartment after eating.” On the bare wall of the theatre, she draws the layout of the apartment, and the location of everyone whose moves and encounters will be shown in chalk. A fifteen-minute slice of life, half an hour at the most, focussing on the mother with her son’s girlfriend, then on the son with his girlfriend, then on the mother talking to her sister on the phone, then on the sister on the other end of the line answering the mother, then on the son and his sister. Alone with someone close to them, they each indulge in teasing, playing, questioning and confiding.

One scene follows another, intersected by bits of scenes that have already taken place or are still to happen. In this way, these simultaneous realities are juxtaposed, subtly constructing the scene’s outline and turmoils. In this little world, intimacy, worries, preoccupations and relationships are revealed, so that we find out more that it knows about itself. At the end, the characters individually come and give a brief personal confession. They do not seem prepared for trick questions, but go along quite happily with this game of truth. Their amusing spontaneity reveals little contradictions that they will not or cannot resolve. These involuntary confessions retroactively feed the funny and profound dialogues that have just taken place. Uncertain Storyis a playful account of a methodology, an account that skilfully glides from the theatrical work to the life being born at the core of this family, the life that pervades them, leaves its traces on them and colours their interactions. This game has a disarming intelligence, because like all games you get caught up in, it says much more about the players themselves than it does about the innocent game they are playing. It is as simple as it is illuminating!

Bobo and Natasa have been working on joint projects for the past five years. Freelancers, they also work in other theatres. On this occasion, Uncertain Story has been supported by the Teatar &TD (Theatre Etcetera) in Zagreb. It is a platform open to Croatian artists and intellectuals for experimenting on form and contemporary writing, practising criticism and offering freedom, embracing and exchanging ideas from elsewhere.

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