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Friends and enemies

Theresa Steininger

A young Serbian woman carrying a young German from the battle field, mutual singing of soccer-songs, mixed with patriot songs. Tito in children´s drawings and a certificate of ancestry. What do Serbs and Germans have in common after fighting against each other in several wars? In her performance „Will you ever be happy again?“, Sanja Mitrovic brings light to this question in various ways. Together with the German performer Jochen Stechmann, she has put together a piece with a very thought-out dramaturgy, many historical documents and a strong impact. She has already won the prestigeous Dutch BNG Young Theater maker Prize 2010 for it.

If it is through children´s games, their drawings (Mitrovic shows her 1st-grade-exercise-book with drawings like the first partisans, the first bombs, the first snow and a drawing of trees forming the name of Tito in the sky) or their songs – the audience can experience intensly how the fighting for the own country, patriotism and hate of the so called enemy infiltrated even the smallest. This is very strong, but the performers, who speak both their mother tongue, do not contend themselves to that interesting part. They switch from giving the pioneer-oath to bombing one another with paper bullets, Mitrovic presenting her body provocatively. Also she is bringing up a very delicate topic, when she asks if the audience loves her more with the Dutch passport than with the Serbian one.

Mitrovic and Stechmann need very little to present such a strong work. They present their documents of the past, which they draw from cardboard boxes, in front of a camera, the image is then projected to the back wall of the stage.

They present the horrors of the Nazi Regime in Germany through a certificate of ancestry, the inflation of money in Serbia with banknotes of 5 billion Dinar. The fall of the wall is brought in through live quotations from this time, the difficult life of Serbs trying to come out of their country through a photo and letters by a friend who managed to escape. By this, the performance is both very personal and generally valid. The individual case speaks for a whole people.

Mutually sang soccer songs finally unite the former enemies, but still, the peace seems limited. When Mitrovic and Stechmann at the end recieved lots of applause, the light went out. Planned to show again a war situation after the final reconcilation? Actually electricity went down in the whole district of the garajistanbul, where the performance took place. But still, the impression of only limited freedom and peace remains.

Theresa Steininger

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