The first press conference of the Bitef–Prologue, which will take place 12–14 September, was held at the venue of a Friend of Bitef, the Mezestoran Dvorište.
This event announced the merged 54th and 55th edition of Bitef, which will be held in 2021, as announced by Ivan Karl, the City of Belgrade Secretary for Culture. The conference was addressed by the Director of Bitef Theatre Miloš Latinović, the City of Belgrade Secretary of Culture Ivan Karl, Bitef Artistic Director Ivan Medenica, as well as Filip Grujić, representative of McCann Belgrade, the partner and creator of the Festival’s visual identity. The concept, program, visual identity and friends of Bitef were introduced at the press conference.
Bitef–Prologue will be held under the slogan “Edge of the Future”, which was the slogan of the postponed 54th Bitef Festival, and will consist of theatre performances, professional and academic discussions, as well as meetings with theatre artists. The central event in this program will be the performance of the play Uncanny Valley, directed by Stefan Kaegi, a coproduction of the Rimini Protokoll and the Munich Kammerspiele theatre companies. This play was one of the pillars of the concept of the 54th Bitef Festival, which was based on the notions of transhumanism and posthumanism in a general sense, i.e. the projection of the world where humankind is no longer at the center, which would create the possibility for the restoration of the ecological balance. Esthetically, the Festival was devised as a reexamination of the live presence on stage, the use of drones, holograms and robots in theatre productions, as well as choreographies that entail “dehumanization” of the performers.
Fully aware that the global pandemic imposes different types of limitations, the main programme initially focused on smaller-format performances and there were to be only seven of them. They are from five countries and include leading regional and global theatre artists and companies, such as Wim Vandekeybus and Ultima Vez, Ersan Mondtag, Ivica Buljan, etc.
The three-day program of the Bitef–Prologue will be held solely at Bitef Theatre and on an open stage in Mira Trailović Square in Bitef City, following strict health procedures imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The side programme will include the traditional Meeting the Authors, Philosophical Theatre, new circus performance, an international discussion on systemic support for the theatre during the pandemic, as well as a presentation by Erika Fischer-Lichte, a leading international theoretician in theatre and performance studies, on the topic of the relationship between digital and live theatre.
According to Ivan Medenica, the main reason for holding Bitef–Prologue is that the dominant opinion within the Bitef team was that the maximum effort should be made for at least a “sample” of Bitef to be organized this year. One of the reasons was the continuity of the Festival, which has never been interrupted, but also something more important: to show that, abiding by all the safety standards, theatre is possible even under pandemic conditions, not only as an artistic practise but also as one of the most important public events, as space for critical opinion and dialogue. Mr. Medenica said that Bitef’s mission has always been to be an icebreaker, which is another reason why it is important that the Bitef–Prologue take place.
Adding to this, Miloš Latinović, the Director of Bitef Theatre, said that every effort had been made for Bitef Festival to be the first international event in Serbia, but that circumstances led to the decision to postpone it. The need for Belgrade and Serbia’s theatre audiences to be provided at least a little theatrical passion led to the creation of Bitef–Prologue.
The visual identity and poster of Bitef Festival was presented by Filip Grujić from the McCann Belgrade creative agency, who pointed out the significance of the four-year collaboration between I&F Group and Bitef Festival, especially during the pandemic, which is when culture needs support. The author of the graphic design is Branko Rosić, Senior Art Director at McCann Belgrade. The visual identity is based precisely on the uncertainty that we live in, attempting to depict it in a way that is not intimidating, but rather intriguing.
Recording of the Performance Uncanny Valley on RTS2
Once again Bitef Festival and its media sponsor, the Serbian Broadcasting Corporation (RTS), have made it possible for the general public to see a recording of the Uncanny Valley play on the RTS2 channel, as the continuation of the effort to democratize and deelitize Bitef.
Admission to the Bitef–Prologue performances will be possible only for ticketholders. Due to the limited capacity, there will be no press accreditation. Information about ticket sales will be made public when official recommendations and measures for holding performances indoors have been passed.
The Bitef–Prologue program will be streamed on the Bitef YouTube channel. For more information follow our social media and the https://festival.bitef.rs/ website.
The Festival has been traditionally supported by the City of Belgrade Secretariat for Culture and the Ministry of Culture and Information of the Republic of Serbia, as well as the Delegation of the EU in Serbia, the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Belgrade, the Goethe Institute, the Open Society Foundation, and the French Institute in Belgrade. Once again, I&F Group, which includes McCann Belgrade, the Festival’s creative agency, is the partner and friend of Bitef.
Bitef wishes to also express its appreciation for the support of the Festival’s new partner, Erste Bank a.d. Novi Sad, and the long-standing friendship of Coca-Cola HBC Serbia and the Halo Creative team. We also thank the host of the press conference, long-standing partner Mezestoran Dvorište.