Tito was not here

Performing Yugoslavia in the 21st Century

A project by Ksenija Čočkova, Elisabeth Desta, Nita Hasani, Juliane Rahn, and Ivana Vaseva

Host organizations: E-Werk Freiburg, Qendra Multimedia, Alte Feuerwache Mannheim, Gradsko Pozorište Jazavac, and Literaturhaus Köln

September 2012, Dom Omladine, Banja Luka (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

For 35 years Josip Broz, known as Tito, ruled Yugoslavia. Given the recent turbulent history and social reality of the region, the era of non-aligned Communism is often invoked in (Yugo)nostalgic memory: To this day, Tito continues to stand in people's minds as a symbol for the "good old times," and he is celebrated as a heroic figure.

This project examined the reactions that such a balancing act between historical event and mythical transfiguration provokes in a younger generation, who know Tito only through schoolbooks and the memories of their parents and grandparents. It also examined their encounters with a glorified figure whose de facto absence in the 21st century is marked by a constant narrative presence.

The goal of this project was to create, within a limited context, a new free space for independent literature and theater, where young artists from former Yugoslavia could transcend their ethnic and geographic boundaries. Of the many literary texts submitted by young authors, six were selected by a jury. These texts were then developed by a mixed theater group with participants from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Macedonia, and then performed in Banja Luka in three languages.

The performances were accompanied by panel discussions with the actors, directors, and authors, as well as a dramatic reading of the texts that were not performed. The literary and performative intervention into the shared Communist past provided participants with a politically neutral space in which to work, and prompted new approaches to the culture(s) of memory.

Jury: Doruntina Basha (Kosovo), Gjoko Zdraveski (Macedonia), and Lili Mihajlović (Slovenia)

Texts: Kristina Posilović (Croatia), Danka Sekulović (Serbia), Ajla Terzić (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Sandra Lalić-Zupur (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Vesa Qena (Kosovo), and Maja Vaseva (Macedonia)

Directing: Goran Damjanac (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and Hana Qena (Kosovo). With Dejan Andrić (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Marko Dukić (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Sanja Ruseska (Macedonia), Arta Selimi (Kosovo), and Ana Stojkova (Macedonia)

With support from: Center for Drama Arts (CDA) T-HOUSE and the Society for Macedonian-German Friendship and Cooperation, Skopje (Macedonia), Nevid Teatar, Robert Bosch Stiftung, Goethe-Institut liaison office Skopje, Society for Macedonian-German Friendship and Cooperation Skopje, Omladinski Savjet Banjaluke, KUD Čajavec