Written by Ljiljana Maletin Vojvodić //
The play #Jeanne, directed by the former selector of Bitef, Anja Suša, won this year’s Grand Prix „Mira Trailović. The jury, chaired by Dr. Ana Vujanović, explained: „It is a rich theatrical experience that captivates with its complexity. It’s a fairy tale about classes, heroes, and revolutions, about capitalism and the apocalypse, moving through the registers of history, fantasy, memory, self-critique, and the prediction of destiny.“ The jury also included the playwright and theater director Joris Lacoste, actress and acting professor Nataša Barbara Gračner, visual artist and performance artist Siniša Ilić, and the dramaturge of the Wiener Festwochen festival, Iris Raffetseder.
The play #Jeanne, produced by the Swedish guest theater Riksteatern and the Royal Dramatic Theatre Dramaten, is based on the drama „Black Box for the End of the World“ by Ivana Sajko, a Croatian writer, dramaturge, and theater director who has been living and working in Berlin for some time.
Using a contemporary theatrical language, dystopian, (self-)critical, and (self-)ironic, #Jeanne explores the theme of heroism in the context of today’s world and reinterprets the narrative of Joan of Arc. In the version by Ivana Sajko and Anja Suša, she fights against social inequality and disturbing ecological neglect.
Jeanne attempts to cross a frozen lake that divides two worlds, and two social classes. On the northern shore are luxurious villas and swimming pools, while on the southern shore stands a dilapidated high-rise building with a constantly malfunctioning elevator. Her attempt ends in failure. In this play, Jeanne is dead, and her memory is preserved on the internet.
Although Anja Suša’s production contains elements typical of contemporary Swedish (Scandinavian) society (allusions to the young climate activist Greta Thunberg, scenic elements reminiscent of the Swedish context), it explores a broader context. This is because global inequality and the climate crisis are omnipresent issues. It also delves into the archetypal question of heroism and the sacrifice of (young) women, as well as the dilemma of whether it is necessary and what it means in a modern context.
Anja Suša has been successfully working in Sweden for some time, and this performance was staged at the Royal National Theatre, which has been presenting experimental plays in alternative spaces in recent years. The visual design features the works of Biljana Đurđević, and in addition to the Swedish language, English appears in the text, thanks to David Attenborough’s „Planet Earth“ series. Live music is performed by musician Ade Humonen, who uses water as an instrument.
The special award „Jovan Ćirilov“, for exceptional contributions to the theater arts, was presented to the play „Goodbuy, Lindita“ by Mario Banushi. Mario Banushi is also the recipient of the Politika newspaper award for best direction.
The Audience Award was presented to the opera-performance ‘Sun & Sea,’ created by Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, Vaiva Grainytė, and Lina Lapelytė. The audience bestowed this Lithuanian production, which had been awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 2019, with an average rating of 4.61.