(…) It is above all a passionate theatre essay which recontextualises the play giving back the sharpness and acuity which it had in its premiere. (…) We are used to seeing these well-known scenes in a whole different key, so here they shock us by uncovering how, underneath the light Nušić’s humour, in fact exists a dark vision of contemporary society in which the violence is immanent. (…) A few visually distinctive and semantically precise directing solutions give a new incentive to already significantly inspired assemble which passionately, fiercely and with full confidence “defends” concept of the project. The reaction of the audience is one more segment which should not be missed; the energy of the play which is similar to the energy of the rock concert is transferred in waves to the auditorium, so the audience, obviously in want of this type of “vent” gives support to the performers in thundering voices. (…) In the end it should be underlined once more that the fact that Nušić is one of our most contemporary author is only partly due to his geniality, the rest of the reasons is us. And through this play some young people with full right ask why is that so and must it me like that.

Boban Jevtić

Nin
For this you should be insolent and brave, a bit insane, but above all smart. Somehow I fell that this play worthily communicates with all of our comedy tradition. All those dead and their grieving families, upstarts and ministers, weddings, lies, Kir Janjas, uncle Vasas and Vicas – are merged into one, Don Quixotesque comedy which tried for all those years to culturalize Serbian herd. Nonetheless, after all these years, all that comedy line is empty bleat. (…) Political potential of the A Suspicious Person was recognized by many politicians who showed on the premiere. Nevertheless, even though A Suspicious Person is a subject to political manipulations it has its logic – it is a true opposition. A true opposition not only to some political regime, but to us, to everything we have become, and to idolatry of idioteque to which we are enslaved. Culture and art are the true opposition to the society which ignores it and to the state which finance it on the level of statistical error. Plays like this should become platforms for gathering of a new society, and in that sense we should not run from targeted substance of this kind of engagement. (…)

Nevena Milojević

Portal Mladi
The performing text of Minja Bogavac is already recognizable direct, pulsating, disturbing. This time it doesn’t rest and it shouldn’t because theatre raises the question and Breht-esquely teaches not only the audience but actors as well (Zoran Pajić, Jelena Bogavac, Isidora Simijonović, Predrag Vasić, Marko Panajotović, Đorđe Živadinović Grgur, Uroš Novović, Aleksandar Jovanović i Aleksandar Vučković). Awareness, intent, and indication are seen in their every word and movement. The performing text of Minja Bogavac and the directing of Vajkan Arsić reflect every character of the play transporting them in the actors of the present moment. Reflecting clichés, taboos, and constructs of the society, it is discussed openly about the products of the media mechanism which cosists of spectacles and within, life of illusion.

Ana Isaković

Kontra Press

This version of A Suspicious Person is a play based on a play, but also about the play of Branislav Nušić, which is on the list of mandatory texts for every primary school student in Serbia. As one of the most played and most known plays in the history of Serbian dramaturgy, A Suspicious Person is perceived by wider audience as easy, carefree comedy. In this setting, the question about the critical potential of this comedy is asked. Instead of the easiness and carefreeness, this play makes you wonder: in which way does the system accept anti-system art and how do the controversial texts become the classics, texts mandatory in primary schools? We treat A Suspicious Person as a political play, questioning did, and in which measure, the society changed since the moment the play has been written. SORRY NUŠIĆ!

Performers: Zoran Pajić, Jelena Bogavac/Aleksandra Cucić, Isidora Simijonović, Đorđe Živadinović Grgur, Marko Panajotović, Uroš Novović, Aleksandar Vučković, Aleksandar Jovanović i Predrag Vasić

Text and dramaturgy: Milena Bogavac

Original music: Irena Popović Dragović

Movement: Andreja Kulešević

Scene design and costimography: Ana Zarubica

Producer: Aneta Goranović

PR and protocol: Marina Ugrinić

Designe: Sanja Drakulić

Video: Ivan Stojiljković

Photography: Jelena Janković

Community manager: Miloš Krneta

Co-producers: Anja Aranđelović, Oleg Misirača, Stefan Todorović, Vera Jovanović, Zorana Parezanović

Organizator: Jovan Bulat

Production assistent: Bjanka Gabrić

Printing preparation Marko Zuber

Light design: Arijan Igić

Music assistant: Ivan Mirković

Sound: Filip Verkić

We approached Branislav Nušić’s A Suspicious Person as an artefact which witnesses its time and context. This play was a starting point in research of societal circumstances in which it was written, but we tried while adapting to find contemporary equivalents for Nušić’s formal solutions. Similarly, we tried to make sharp parallels between Nušić’s and our Serbia. We discovered that not much has changed, since 19th century until now, but also that some changes did occur, and those were for worse.

From the original text of Branislav Nušić we kept the elements which relate to the present. The rest we adapted, so that they speak about the contemporary moment in the same way Nušić thought about his own époque. Nušić was, in his time, a highly critical writer. In that manner, we believe that he would not be satisfied if his plays were played like in a museum of a sort, in aesthetics that would be appropriate to his time, that is, in a way theatre was perceived when he wrote for it. That is the way that his blade is made dull, his politicality, engagement, and courage, which we perceive as basic features of Nušić’s writing.

The key document in working on the A Suspicious Person was Nušić’s introductory text to this play. In this text, Nušić gives information about his dramaturgical process, but also about the historical circumstances in which it was created and waited thirty six years to its first performance. Topics which Nušić here opens are censorship, auto censorship, and political changes which bring to the boiling point the atmosphere of public life, and how, behind all that noise, clamor, and hype, essentially not much changes.

As Nušić in his preface writes about Gogolj’s influences, we also do not hide the influences of our contemporaries, nor of the authors which worked on political theatre between Nušić’s time and ours. As Nušić boldly reveals historical facts about his contemporaries, we do not deny that many of our contemporaries will recognize themselves in this play. However, not everything is the same. One crucial thing has changed. Dictatorship isn’t implemented by strictly confidential, encrypted telegrams, but publically: by spreading fear, panic, and all-encompassing stupidity and meaningless content via the media.

Exactly for that reason we did not stop on the adaptation, but we have, in dialog with Nušić’s A Suspicious Person, written new implementing text. Our Suspicious Person doesn’t have a happy, but a suspicious ending, because all of the illnesses Nušić correctly diagnosed have metastasized. Regarding that, we believe that it is not enough to use laughter as anesthesia. If we want a healthy society we need more radical, more invasive operations: as in dramaturgy so in politics.

Milena Bogavac

In a yearbook of professional theatres which is published by “Sterijino pozorje” it is written that this is the 195th professional production of the play A Suspicious Person. Amateur, school, and youth adaptations of this play is not possible to count, but it is possible that their number is a four-digit one. Because the content of this play is well known we started to imply it, and hundred and thirty years after it has been written, we leave the theatre happy and smiling because “everything is the same as before”. But why is it so?

Are we happy that we are a society that has the same problems for hundred and thirty years and does it, in fact, mean that we do not want to change? Are we ashamed because the work of this genius writer describes all of our faults, or are we happy because of those faults, so we emphasize them on the grounds of our mentality and culture? The goal of this play is not to say that Nušić is our contemporary, but to ask the question: why are some things unchangeable? Does this society have a wish to change? And what is that that leads us to infinitely many times repeat the same mistakes?

A Suspicious Person is a play about the authority, about the wish for authority, but also about the fear of it; about the need for those in the position of authority to love you, which leads to corruption and censorship. This is also a play about the communication inside the state apparatus and the officials, who are not the service of the populace, but work for themselves, thinking that state service positions are guaranteed. In Serbia, it is believed that authority is personal property with whom everybody does what they wish, and that is the basic mechanism by which the society functions. All these topics are relevant in our country for more than hundred and thirty years, and the new question that we raise is the question of the media: leading the state through media.

We ask about the place of court and justice, police, state apparatus and its clerks when all of the important decisions are made on the front pages. Is Serbia a country where everybody is suspicious? Are we living in a country fearing that we might become suspicious persons, to receive already existing etiquettes, and be ruled on the newsstand instead in the courtroom?

The classic of Serbian dramaturgy, this is the starting point for telling a story about the changes which are ever to be expected in Serbia, but also the story about the geniality of the author who left us treasure as a legacy: serious, comedy opus, from which we learned nothing, expect to laugh and have fun. It is not funny at all! Maybe it never was… with that that, until now, there were no cameras.
Now, every one of us knows that the cameras can, at one point, turn to them and against them… and the state is there to, from the shadows, have control over their movements. It is horrifying, and definitely not funny. Do not laugh at Nušić, but try to understand him!

Vojislav Arsić

Festival Internacionalnog Alternativnog Teatra (Podgorica)

Festival Nušićijada, Ivanjica