A Small Death Trilogy
by Elfride Jelinek

Few weeks ago I was listening one contact radio show where the question for the audience was What were your biggest disillusions in the past 2006? and one girl said:”One of my biggest disillusions was that I thought its easy (possible) to understand “A Small Death Trilogy”!”
That was hilarious answer and I was laughing so hard. She was so sweet indeed!
… uhm … and I’m afraid so right!

Horribly strange and tough play … well after all we ARE speaking about Mrs. Jelinek and whoever has read anything written by her knows what that means.

“A Small Death Trilogy” is a drama about death of art, theatre and culture. It is a phantasmagoric-poetic picture of civilization where there is no more place for humanistic determinations. In it, contradictory ideas about individual, pretty and ugly, good and evil, love and hatred, libido and aggression, victim and crime are divided and then reunited in the final picture of death.

Elfride Jelinek derived titles of this trilogy from Schubert songs “Queen of Fairies”, “Death and the Girl” and “Traveler”.

First part is addressing of one famous actress (dead actress of course) of famous Burg Theatre; she speaks about her artistic career, focusing on problems of glory and power. She is self-loving woman who depends on her image in public and in the end we can see the essence of glory that puts masks that will be unavoidable destroyed by death. ”No one shall be forgotten”
In the second part (“Death and the Girl”) we can see a hunter, Snow White and the seven Dwarfs, and one of the main themes is relation between beauty and truth, matter and spirit, surface and essence, ephemerality and eternity, death and life. Hunter (death?) is extremely cold and with explicit distance he’s making very convincing feeling of existential frisson toward idea of the end of physical life. It’s a story of narcissism, claustrophobia, about emptiness of the idea “to have” upon the abyss of the idea “to be”.
Third part is a speech of Traveler with accent on the problems of nonafiliation, transitoriness and loneliness, where the idea of ‘road’ has been crystallized as the main, basic metaphor of life (” When they erasing man, first they taking his road” – I like that very much!)

After the play on one festival recently audience was quite confused and the leading actress shared her own experience about this play, about that “theatrical something”. When she started to work on this play she was equally confused; the cast was ‘into’ the text two months before going on the stage. She even said to director “I’m not sure am I interested to work in such a play that will be understandable only to the few intellectuals or the ones who’ll pretend that they’ve understood it” but after many weeks of work she was ‘infected’. On the question “What we just saw?” she said “This is philosophic discussion about life, death, power, and not only on intellectual field but emotional as well. This is not text for drama, it’s not realistic play. One my friend, very famous film director said to me that he’s not sure if he understands the play but he loves it!”

I don’t know, maybe it’s the same case with me. I really liked the play but describe what is all about is a million dollar question!



Gagarin Way
by Gregory Burke

Two nights ago I watched fabulous Gagarin Way by Gregory Burke, directed by Maja Milatović-Ovadia in BITEF Theatre.

An edgy, cynical socio-political microcosm set in post-Thatcher Scotland, Gagarin Way takes an incisive, fiercely intelligent look at the remnants of 20th-century ideology and charts its dispersal in our era of emptiness. Economic, political and personal violence collide ferociously in this caustic comedy, shining an unforgiving light on our infuriating inability to acknowledge, identify or resist the forces that dehumanize us.

This black comedy provokes laughter and has its own social misfits but never lets its audience forget that to murder someone, whatever the motive, is to end a warm, throbbing life. The plot is settled in a small Scottish mining town taken over by multinational corporations. Two local men, thirsty for social justice and full of revolutionary, anti globalistic spirit, kidnap an executive and plan to kill him as a political statement. With strong mask of tough revolutionars, guerilla fighters, with great ideas and their weak base, with selective „knowledge“ about revolutionary movements (with stories from the war which he heard from his granddad, the same granddad he never met); with gun in hand and total confusion in head … those two young man are ready to make history! Thinking that killing that evil Japanese exploiter, who is not quite Japanese but maybe Dutch or even better American … who in the end turns out to be a native son as bitter over his selling out to the invaders as his abductors are over their dead-end lives. The ideas, beliefs and hopes of these men grate, clash, combine and oppose as their own stories emerge through the play.

This is a ton of theatrical dynamite cunningly disguised as a mere Molotov cocktail. It slips down easily and then explodes. It ransacks 20th-century political philosophies and ideologies with assurance and poses big questions: can the individual act have greater political symbolism? Is political violence ever justified? What is the difference between revolution and murder and how can you rise above apathy in a world where there is nothing left to believe in? For all its shocking violence, this is an acutely moral play.

Maybe we have a new genre: Comedy of terrorism. This is Waiting Godot to Come – with a rifle.