Posts tagged as: Dah Teatar
For the first time since starting to provide words for Colorado College’s blog, I am going to relate the content of the post to the title: on Tuesday our class will be presenting our final performances for the block… jet lagged.
We have safely arrived back in the United States of America as of about 3PM Saturday, and I think that I might speak for more than just myself if not two or three people and maybe everyone when I say that Serbia was a wild experience. Looking back on it, it all seems like some weird twilight zone. We learned so much in that twilight zone, though, so the next challenge is maintaining that in our everyday lives.
By the end of our week in Serbia, I had really started to piece together the violent and disturbing recent history of the former Yugoslavia, in particular the events between Serbia and Kosovo, and NATO and Kosovo and Serbia. Dah Teatar’s relevance as an important catalyst in the process of remembering and addressing the region’s history of atrocious crimes against humanity, involving genocidal violence, massacres, rapes in unbelievable numbers, and ethnic cleansing, became clear to us as these pieces fell into place.
Dah Teatar is in the business of forcing people to recognize parts of their history that they are trying to ignore. They use performance, both in the theater proper and the public theater of the street, to help people recognize the truth of their country’s history, rather than accept that which is professed by the state. Dah also addresses a more positive side of the region’s “alternative history” by showcasing in public performance the beauty of ethnic and cultural diversity and promoting recognition and acceptance.
We met with an activist group, under the guidance of Dah Teatar, called Women in Black. This is a global organization that has a strong and extremely interesting branch in Belgrade. Their performances are powerful and have been the target of retaliation from nationalist factions in Serbia. These women carried themselves with a confidence and conviction in what they believe that was enthralling. When asked whether they get scared when they are beaten verbally or physically on the street during their protests they answered simply. Getting scared doesn’t occur to them. Their devotion to the cause for which they are sacrificing their personal safety negates any fear. They act with purpose.
Everything we have learned from the workshop with Dah Teatar will be an available technique for our final performances. Personally, I can’t wait to see how the projects improve from the two we did before Serbia. I think that even with the added challenge of jet lag, we will see some pretty inspiring stuff.
On a separate note, I was excited to eat a meal that wasn’t a meat sandwich and to walk around both indoors and outdoors without feeling like I had just inhaled a pack and a half of cancer. I know I probably speak for at least myself and maybe a second or fourth person or more when I say that I am happy to be back in the US. Belgrade was a lot to take in in just one week, and now we’ve got three days to process it before the block plan leaves it all behind and we move on to bigger, smaller, greater and lesser things. Maybe I’ll even look for a job.
Check out the pics below to see some of the things we saw!
Hello! I got back to CC about 24 hours ago and now that I’ve recovered a bit from the epic plane journey, I figure it’s time to share some more stories with you while they’re fresh!
1. We did a workshop with Dah in which we envisioned the floor as a map of the world, and did a series of exercises in which we all traveled on the “map” to the place we were born, the first place abroad that we went to, the place we’d like to be, the place of our greatest sorrow, the place where we plan to spend our lives, and to Belgrade. It was a really cool lesson in how to give meaning to space and/or how to give space to meaning.
2. We met the only out gay politician in Serbia, and one of the co-founders of the activist group Women in Black (two separate people).
3. On one of our first days there, I got turned around on my way to Dah Teatar. I stopped and asked an old woman who was sitting in the park for directions (in my very limited Serbian). She gave them to me, and I followed them. A few blocks later, I was starting to get lost again, and someone pulled on my arm. I turned around, and it was the same old woman! I don’t know how she found me—had she been walking behind me the whole time on her way somewhere? Had she been following me to make sure I followed her directions? Did she just happen to run into me again?
She then led me practically all the way to the theater. I tried to communicate with her that she didn’t need to lead me, she just needed to tell me verbally where to go and I would take it from there, but either it didn’t get through or she wasn’t having it. She didn’t speak a word of English, and I speak about fifteen words of Serbian, on a good day. On that morning, I experienced what it is like to have a fairy godmother. If only I had her around to help me when I get lost in Colorado Springs (which is often)!
4. On another occasion, I had a different old lady stop me on the street and start talking to me in rapid-fire Serbian. I kept telling her that I didn’t speak Serbian, but she was persistent. I eventually realized that her walker was stuck on the curb a few feet away, and I lifted it out for her. She then started thanking me profusely, which I did understand. Apparently old Serbian women and I just have a great connection. It’s probably because I am an old Serbian woman at heart.
In all seriousness, these two events, along with a few others, have left me amazed at the amount that can be communicated nonverbally.
5. I was talking with Dijana (the director of Dah) and found out that her partner’s ex-wife is Marina Abramović, the world-famous performance artist (who I incidentally happen to be mildly obsessed with). And apparently the three of them hang out all the time! Also, since Marina has worked with Lady Gaga, that means I’m two degrees of separation away from Lady Gaga. Shit just got surreal.
6. I experienced a really classy jazz bar.
7. Dah gave us a second tour around the city and told us about their site-specific performances in the places where they did them. It is crazy how many historically important sites Belgrade has. For me, it was an important reminder how much history every place has. Even if it wasn’t the site of bombing, renaming, etc., every place has stuff that happened at it that is important to someone.
That’s why I decided to do an alternative history of Colorado College for my final project. Right now I’m collecting stories of things that happened to people at CC. I’m still undecided as to what format I’m going to present these stories in, although I have a lot of ideas.
I should be working on that, actually! Thanks for reading my stories. I’m planning to post some pictures soon.
Belgrade is a picturesque city. Our hotel sits on a large traffic circle through which trolleys and busses and cars come careening with little regard for one another. A few blocks down the main shootoff of the roundabout you’ll come to a large plaza with a statue of a man riding a horse. A common meeting place. The subsequent blocks are pedestrian only and well used. It seems that at any time of day (and we have checked it out a almost every hour of the 24 hour cycle) there are people roaming. During the day the cafes fill up as the locals sit for an espresso to fuel their continuous, leisurely stroll. We stop for a sip of water from the communal fountain and look at watercolors of Belgrade in the rain.
Over the last few days we have seen and learned an overwhelming amount of really cool history, politics, acting techniques, new words, names, foods, and more.
The fortress of Belgrade has been the site of bloodshed for eons. Fighting between tribes, clans, empires, nations, and any other manner of human organization has occurred here since the beginning of history. We toured the fortress with narration from Dah Teatar, the theater company with which we have been doing our workshop. They shared their own experience with the space and how they have used performance to try to “cleanse” it of its bloody history.
Back towards the hotel and up a small hill you’ll find the Parliament building, St. Mark’s church, and various parks dotted and criss-crossed with perfectly pruned tulip gardens. We stopped at the foot of the stairs up to the front door of parliament for story time with one of the leaders of Otpor!, the revolutionary group that was instrumental in the ousting of Milosevic.
In our workshop with Dah Teatar we have been exercising our budding skills as thespian-activists. Practicing everything from pilates to speaking text while barking like a dog to improvisational and stage presence skills, our workshop days have been geared towards the acquisition of performance techniques for sending a message.
In addition we have heard lectures from Deanna, a co-founder of Dah Teatar and a performer of many works of political theater. Also a lecture from Zoe who is a performer for women’s rights and the leader of Queer Belgrade.
Our days and nights have been stuffed full to the brim of new and outrageous adventures and more knowledge than you can shake a book at. Check out the attached pics for a little taste of your own. Feel free to live vicariously!
In the words of Lauren Traub ’14, “Deuces!”
1. We saw an old man walking his pet bunny. Apparently pet bunnies are a thing here.
2. We went to the ruins of the National Library. It was bombed during WWII and has been kept intact ever since. Dah Teatar, the theatre group we are working with, did a site-specific performance there commemorating this. It involved a violin, lighting a book on fire, and pouring ripped pages out of water buckets.
3. We had beers with some social workers from Belgium that we met in a a café.
4. Hana threw up from drinking the tap water.
5. We met one of the activists from Otpor. He told us about how on the day the regime finally fell, he was afraid of being beaten by two policemen that he saw. So he asked one of them for his baton. Surprisingly, the policeman looked shocked and scared and gave him the baton. The activist turned around and realized there was a crowd of other activists behind him, which was why the policeman was afraid. He then put his arm around the policeman, and told his friends, “He is our brother,” so they wouldn’t attack him. And he kept the police baton as a souvenir!
6. Chris almost got a French girl’s number.
More stories soon!