SUPERFLUOUS MAN – A CLOUD OF NOTHINGNESS
Blog by Ivana Bilić
We arrive at the Oda Theater, situated at the foot of the Palace of Youth and Sports. Many people are waiting in front. That’s odd. The play should already have started. There’s the Artpolis Troupe of actors, all suited up in impeccable black and white tuxedos, vests, and waistcoats, both men and women, with scarlet details on their brooches, scarves and gloves. They give us an introduction in Albanian. All of a sudden, on the right side of the brutalist architecture of the Boro and Ramiz, against the sunset, in red ball gowns and tuxedos come the actors from the Israeli troupe, down the stairs of the Palace. We all enter the Oda together, followed by a lullaby from the Artpolis’ Artistic troupe. Once we get to the lobby, there is a woman asleep, loudly snoring. On the right, a projection of a faceless man smoking. It reminds me of the Belgian surrealist René Magritte.
“People don’t appreciate boredom enough.”
On the stage, everything is red. An everlasting cloud above the heads of some people, comfortably seated in their chairs, all very slowly doing some seemingly boring things. They take their time. A woman embroiders, a man reads poetry, another is bored, taking a nap. It takes us some time to realize what is going on here. It is precisely about laziness. About doing something tomorrow we could do now: “can we put today to tomorrow as well?”. Throughout the play, we hear different questions from the protagonists: “You’re in exactly the same position I left you in” or “I don’t want to wake up. I love lying around and staring at the place. Whenever I lay down to rest lately, it takes me days to get up again.” The audience laughs at first but it also makes us reflect.
The Artistic director, Yehezkel Lazarov, shared his main intention with this adaptation of the play: “During the pandemic, it was all about nothingness and how much it is needed, to have permission to leave nothing behind us. The main goal is that people ask themselves: ‘How fast do I have to chase life?’ or ‘How can we lay back a little bit and let ourselves just be, without leaving something behind us, without wanting to reach everything, to grab everything, to make a lot of money?’, because, at the end of the day, it doesn’t mean anything.” There is the same message sent by one of the actors in the play, saying, “No one is happy, everyone is just racing, saving, spending, saving again.” It ends with very sad piano tunes in the background. This is something we could not do during the pandemic. Everything simply stopped. There was a lot of anxiety because we could not do. We forgot to simply be. There are so many inputs telling us how we have to achieve more, run for more, ask for more, challenge ourselves more. Have we forgotten to rest? To do nothing? To be lazy?
The white cloud, in the words of the director, symbolizes something that looks very big, very heavy, but you can still go through it. Clouds can change their color, just like this one became red at a certain point in the play, it can become heavy, gray, produce rain, and yet, they can be so fluffy, “something that can just go ‘puff’, disappear” … This is all wrapped up this very intense week of plays, performances, exhibitions, movie projections, and concerts. Something so heavy, and yet so light, like the unbearable lightness of being. Laziness, idleness, nothingness. And yet what is it that can move us all? The director Lazarov summed it all up: “The only thing that can move someone is love, it is very naïve, but very classical.”
Love guided us throughout the FemArt Festival 11 this year. And what better way to express love and emotions than music? And that is how this year’s festival closed – with a majestic concert by the Rina Kaçinari Trio.
The closing of the FemArt 11 Festival. What better way to do it than to sing together and enjoy the purity of music, vibrations, and vocal performances? The last night of the festival, we were delighted by the incomparable Rina Kaçinari on cello, accompanied by Carles Muñoz Camarero on nyckelharpa and cello, and Jörg Mikula on drums. The trio guided us throughout the night in the amphitheater of the Palace of Sports, the temporary National theater. They came with the sounds of jazz, pop, world music, traditional Balkan’ music, and beyond the genres. Rina surprised us with her guests from Prishtina – the choir Okarina, preparing together something very special to wrap it all up.
She captivated us all. Not only is music the best medicine for the soul, but it is also a very powerful, non-violent tool for change. Not only was Rina Kaçinari very personal tonight, sharing her intimate stories and encouraging her musicians to do the same, but she was very political. She addressed the Prime Minister of Kosovo and the Mayor of Prishtina with a request to work more against femicide and injustices toward women in Kosovar society. She and her co-musicians shared not only some personal stories, love, passion, but some nostalgia as well. Rina’s directness and proximity made us feel at home. She was at home and we were a part of her circle. She even played with her cousin from Okarina, showing us how special this was for her.
At some point, someone shouted from the audience that the mayor of Prishtina and the Prime Minister were present. That did not stop the fearless Rina Kaçinari from giving them all a lesson that night. Rina Kaçinari put herself on the throne and told them to invest in culture, to act for the girls and women who are being killed and how her heart is broken reading about so many femicides over there. From that stage, Rina Kaçinari advocated for all women, for all people, for art and culture. She was the real queen and the audience followed it with an ovation. Her spontaneous, bright and cheerful personality was so captivating. Rina stood, she reigned over the stage, and she reigned over every heart in that hall.
The concert ended with an inventive, powerful performance. We can really call it a performance. She invited the Choir Okarina back to the stage and they performed Kalle Tuten – Burn Your Fear, specially created for this night. Women raised their arms and fists in something that could be understood as a sign of protest, but more importantly, a sign of strength.
The entire audience chanted with them and applauded them in an ardent ovation. KUDOS to Rina, kudos to all the artists who took the courage to speak up and to urge for change. KALLE TUTEN!