Marina Blagojevic Hughson
RED: A Suicide of the Nation
Misogyny is the cause of a demographic catastrophy
Director: Vojislav Arsić
The demographic picture of Serbia says that we are a nation that is dying out.
Every year the Republic of Serbia loses about 30 000 inhabitants and residents.
Every year in Serbia is executed from 100 to 200,000 intentional abortions.
Every seventh of the month members of the extremist, right-wing organization create public events in which they collect signatures for a ban on abortion.
Nobody collects signatures which the State is required to stop violence against women.
In 2013, in the domestic violence 43 women were killed.
In 2014, 27 women were killed.
From January to April 2015, 15 women were killed.
Every third woman in Serbia is a victim of physical, psychological or sexual violence.
The demographic picture of Serbia says that we are a nation that is dying out.
The right to abortion is in accordance with the right of a woman to dispose of her body.
Political restricting of abortion does not increase the birth rate, but also contributes to increasing mortality and health problems of women due to improperly and illegally performed abortions.
The text of the play was created by collaging thesis of the book Mapping Misogyny in Serbia: Discourses and Practices (Marina Blagojevic, editor), excerpts from the daily and weekly press (Politika, Blic, Kurir, Informer and weekly, text: Mothers who are not that, the author Zorica Markovic), published in Serbia in the period from December 2014 to April 2015; sampling the speech of the President of Serbia Tomislav Nikolic with songs of Goca Tržan, graffiti from public toilets from other, similar places.
Text scene Serbs with crosses slam was created in the workshop slam poetry and collective work of artist performances. The show uses song Red which is, for the premiere of this piece (2004), composed and sung by Igor Markovic aka Cutout MC.
The play was created through a six-month process of artistic and educational workshops, which was conceived and led by a team of co-authors and associates. The process was followed by andragogical research authored by Aleksandar Bulajic and Maja Maksimovic.
Concept, stage design and directed by: Vojislav Arsić
Script and dramaturgy: Milena Bogavac
Lead roles: Mladen Sovilj, Zoltan Pletl, Djordje Živadinovic Grgur, Zoran Pajic
Six – person choir (there are 2 staff groups) :Anđelko Beroš, Janko Cekić, Aleksandar Jovanović, Uroš Milojević, Uroš Mladenović, Uroš Novović, Marko Panajotović, , Alek Surtov, Stefan Uroš Tešić, Jovan Zdravković
Original music: Bojana Vunturišević
Stage movement: Andreja Kulešević
Expert associates: Jelena Bogavac, Aleksandar Bulajić, Nađa Duhaček, Maja Maksimović
Assistant Director: Uroš Novović
Producer: Andreja Koršič, Aneta Goranović
PR: Marina Ugrinić
Design of printed materials: Sanja Drakulić
Photos: Sonja Žugić
Sound design: Ivan Mirković Bambi
Video: Ivan Stojiljković
Director of photography: Marina Perović
Production: Bitef theater
Executive producer: Jovana Janjić
PR and Protocol: Slavica Hinić
Chief of Maintenance: Ljubomir Radivojević
Inspicijentkinja: Maja Jovanović
Light: Dragan Đurković, Milan Neić
Sound: Miroljub Vladić, Jugoslav Hadžić
Garderoberka: Marta Narančić
Decorators: Goran Gavrančić, Aleksandar Marinković, Vladan Milošević
Credits: Nikoli Pavloviću, Zvonimiru Peraniću, Tijani Mijalković, Mileni Vasić, Branku Biraču, Marini Blagojević Hughson, Isaku Marinkoviću, Semihu Duroviću, Danijeli Jović, Svetlani Kijevčanin, Ani Jokić, Zoranu Maričiću, Igoru Markoviću, Džemalu al Kisvaniju, Mariji Stojanović, Vladimiru Tagiću, Jeleni Žigić i Maši Stojanović. Posebno se zahvaljujemo Centru modernih veština i KPGT-u.
The personal is political: FROM SEX AND THE CONSEQUENCES TO SUICIDE OF THE NATION
10 years from first performance of play ‘Red’ in Bitef theatre
Play Red: Sex and the Consequences I wrote in the year 2002. At that time, therefore in my twenties I was inspired by my own discovery of feminism and term of misogyny with whom I did not meet during the formal education. When I accidentally found the book ‘Mapping misogyny in Serbia: discourses and practice’ written by Marina Blagojevic, I didn’t know what misogyny is, neither did I know the way it defined the society I grew up in. My relationship with that book was pretty disturbing. When I first read that book I was very upset because it shook the way I was looking at the world in which female rights and gender equality are a thing that are a way of being. However, information I read in that book stayed in my consciousness so I started noticing misogyny in every field of everyday life- streets, faculties, media, social institutions, jokes and gossips that were told, city buses… At the time I was experiencing unwanted pregnancy and painful moments of introspection and it made my seeing of myself as a women different.
My cognition about my own femaleness was marked with a huge trauma and it made me wonder:
“Did all this have to be this way? Why is my understanding of the gender of the unbreakable bond with a sense of sadness, shame, anger and fear?”
I also realized that some of life importance information were kept a secret from me during formal education, so I returned to Marina Blagojevic’s book.
The book held clear and direct answers to questions I was asking myself, so I was ready to go from a huge undefined sense of pain I found myself in, to seeing the SYSTEM!
I didn’t recognize misogyny around myself anymore. I started to recognize it in myself, at my surprise I discovered that there are 3 parallel cosmoses living in my mind, 3 system valuations, in which being a women means something completely different.
I realized that with these three systems in my being – I was never born. All three have been learned and all three in my mind alternated with incomprehensible speed. I discovered that at the same time I was trying to be directional, lovely, obedient girl and a good Christian; dangerous and dark, sexually liberated, kitty from a porn movie and reasonable, educated, financially and intellectually independent person who enjoys her rights, trying to show the world what she knows and what she can do, in the carrier field- nerd .
I saw how the opposition and mutual exclusiveness of these principles work and understand that sadness , anger and a constant feeling of guilt with which I was fighting with , were a consequence of a schizophrenic situation in which I was pushed by me own indecision between three possible models of femininity , that our society recognizes . I assumed that other women feel the same way and wanted to make the problem visible.
While writing Red, I became a feminist. In this piece, I was bold enough to consistently apply a feminist slogan- the personal is political, and shook out on the scene the darkest parts of my young being, believing that in this way I'm doing something to heal society where generations of equally bewildered women, but also men, were growing up, unconscious of what their partners, mothers, sisters and friends are dealing with. Unaware of their privileges.
Also, - for me as a theater artist this was also important, in Red I first ventured to write differently, postmodern, rude, and disrespectful of laws about scenic realism of Aristotelian unities and other rules of dramatic writing, with whom I was studying dramaturgy introductions.
Red with the subtitle : sex and the consequences , premiered in Bitef theater in 2004, directed by my sister Jelena Bogavac and performed by Vladislava Djordjevic Jelena Ilic, Hristina Popovic and Danijela Vranjes, actresses who ( while working on the show ) became our close friends.
From the beginning, Jelena and I were insisting that the piece was performed by women. We believed that femininity and womanhood can be explored only among women, and this show became our collective manifesto of self-identification in a society that can find it’s only continuity in the various forms of misogyny. While Working on Red, we all become feminists!
The play Red: Sex and consequences was played on the repertoire for five seasons, which for us (and this theater) became a record. Ten years after the first performance of this piece, I think I know what's the secret of a long and successful life of this show. She put the spotlight experience that most pushed under the carpet, but more than that: This show has clearly and unequivocally been saying that the right to legal and medical abortion is an inalienable right of every woman, no matter what she heard from her partner, Media church ... or any instance that had social interest in the disposal of your womb, your body, therefore, your life.
The play Red: Sex and the consequences was a play about misogyny, women's rights, women's psyche but also a pro-choice training class, that was held so that it gives women comfort, encourage and empower her to take her lives into their own hands.
For me, Red was a way growing up. After five years of it’s life in Bitef theater, I was not the same confused girl that wrote it. The book thanks to which I finished the piece, has become the first point in my feminist (self) education ... and ten years later: I find myself as a woman who knows that feminism is not the position, but the body of knowledge; as a woman who has this knowledge helped to overcome the feeling of disjointedness between different perspectives on gender and opposite (destructive) emotions that I have (growing up) struggled. I feel free! I believe that I am free to be a woman the way I want to be, not the way it is to be expected of me.
Ten years later, however, I understand that I'm a member of the target group that the state system and the media accused of hedonism, selfishness, continued education, and finally the white plague: the withering away of the Serbian people. Read this aloud and listen how it sounds: the withering away of the Serbian people!
I find myself as a woman often being warned about the biological clock, as if it was something that was a part of me and what I am not aware about. I find myself as a woman being asked, "So, when are you going to do it if not now? " And "Don’t you want to be appreciated as a mother?", As if this issue is not an intimate thing and it can be placed in any polite conversation. In the end, I find myself as a feminist who responds: And what do you care?! And as a woman who, in her own way, thinks to herself: why the fuck do you give a shit?!
I did not notice that any bit of the system was interested how I (as a freelance artist, therefore, unemployed) live in Serbia; how much I work and how much I earn; How many days a year I spend on the road (in constant pursuit of the jobs that I can not refuse, because of existential reasons); how I am finding my way to earn for health and social security, and when was the last time I took a vacation. I did not notice that any bit of the system was interested in how I felt when, as a relatively affirmed author, I earned less than the time when I was a student, and did not see that any bit of the system was interested in why I don’t not manage to start a healthy relationship, in which order was possible to plan for the future and to organize life so that a child that would be born would be able to grow in normal and stable atmosphere.
I noticed that in our society there isn’t any institution that will help me educate my child in accordance to the principles of non-violence way of life, or to treat him - if he gets sick , without the part where I , as a mother , should beg the tabloids and reality shows to help me!
I did not notice that the system will protect my child from bullying or other gender-based violence , if it happens to be born as a homosexual person , or if it happens that his / her father was gay, not to mention what would have happened if I had a child of different skin color .
As long as there are no institutions that will deal with these subjects, you can not expect from me or any other woman to "achieve as a mother" - whatever this phrase meant.
In this sense, for the survival of Serbs and Serbia, I care as much as Serbs and Serbia care about me!
To bear a child, in this society, would mean to prolong the agony ... and the new version of Red is talking about.
Ten years and a hundred performances after the premiere of this play directed by Jelena (my sisters and lifetime director!), Red is created on stage by my closest friend and longtime creative collaborator Vojislav Arsic.
Ten years later, I feel like this piece, in it’s own personal and political implications, is equally important, but this time, I do not think that it’s goal is comforting, encouraging and empowering women. The idea of the new performance is contained in the slapping of the system, which does not care and in whose mechanisms, consciously or unconsciously, we are all spinning. Well, if the first play of Red had job to deal with realizing misogyny in society, the second aims to face it.
You're too misogynist and misogynistic to listen to women talking to you about misogyny!
So this time the men will do it.
After all, we are its victims – all of us.
Also, we are all involved in its multiplication.
Piece Red deals with the female psyche, misogyny and various aspects of abortion.
Piece Red deals with the female psyche, misogyny and various aspects of abortion.
Why did you decide to put sixteen men?
The issue of abortion is an example where we can examine the problem of violence against women. The play is based on the statistics according to which in Serbia every year, 100- 200 000 induced abortions are performed. We do not mourn these figures, but we try to understand why it happens, but a woman's right to legal, medical abortion is not in question. A man and a woman have an equal role in the process of reproduction, but the woman has the exclusive right to their body and decisions that concern it. By making men play in the play, which treats the women and women's rights, I wanted to say that the issue of violence against women is not a problem of a small group of noisy women, but of all mankind.
In your activist and artistic work, for many years you are fighting for inclusion of men in the struggle for gender equality. Where on this road, is a place for this performance and what kind of social change, it should cause?
The issue of gender identity is crucial in creating an equal society in which women will be safer. The social construction of gender in terms of masculinity effects on attitudes and behavior of men towards women. We are dealing with the present situation of women in Serbia, and how society treats them, the society made of men and women. The vast majority will agree with the fact that the white plague and the reduce of birth rate is one of the biggest problems in the country. The same vast majority will tell you that the role of women in addressing this crucial problem is huge, but will thereafter - for example, last year, in domestic violence kill 27 women. There's something wrong here. We want women to give birth small Serb men and women, and then beat them, harass, humiliate, discriminate and kill them. Last year in Serbia, the two women were killed with an ax… AN AX!!!
When we talk about the unquestionable problem of increasing the birth rate, I ask the question: what is the ultimate goal of our nation? How many of us we want there to be? What should we be? And what sort of country we want to live in? In what kind of society children should grow up? I think encouraging procreation is not an issue of the campaign, but the question of organization the society!
Can the play in which men are performing be treated as a feminist play?
Absolutely. If we understand that feminism is a body of knowledge about society, gender and politics, it is clear that it has nothing to do with biological affiliation. We tried to explore and learn about femininity, mixed identities and emotions, in order to articulate the men and women deviation as biological. The play was created through research and educational process during which we analyzed the identity, society, femininity, masculinity ... and during which we tried to know the pain that women face after an act between man and woman.
Why is the research and educational process through which your actors passed key to this performance?
For me it's important that the art work has an impact on society. I do not care about culinary theater, but theater that addresses social issues and pushes the community towards changes. In this aspect, the actors cannot emulate the text, but have to live it. They must deeply analyze the subject in order to be able to safely talk on stage and off. The actors in this play are performing in their own name and stand behind what they say. They do not share their views on those representing the scene and others outside it. Beautiful and talented young people who play in this play are the ambassadors of nonviolence, drivers of change, fighting for women's rights and gender equality. As such, they serve Serbia. THAT is true patriotism.
The 6th International theatre festival in Kikinda
Art trema fest, Ruma
A.N.F.I teatar, Kraljevo
Award “Anđelka Milić” for the feminist creation, 19. Art Trema Fest – 3 awards: Plaque for total design of the play, Golden mask for the best episodic role to the actor Zoran Pajić, and the Special award for the text of the play to the writer Milena Bogavac.