The last day of September in Sarajevo will mark the beginning of the theater festival. The most relevant theater event in South East Europe will begin, the International Theater Festival MESS, and its 57th edition will last until October 8.
It is the time when a number of international theater stars visit Sarajevo, and make it the center of the world during these nine festival days. About the program of the festival, its guests, and the novelties that this year will brings, we talked with its first man, a longtime cultural worker Nihad Kreševljaković.
What will this year’s MESS edition bring? Have you already defined the program?
The 57th MESS program, like every year, brings what our audience is accustomed to, and these are significant theatrical names from Europe, the region and the world. The focus of this year’s festival will be atypical narrators, whose voices are less often heard in society.
The audience will have the opportunity to watch some fantastic theater performances and big theater names such as Blind Poet, produced by NEEDCOMPANY, and directed by Belgian director Jan Lauwers, with whom we will open the Festival. Milo Rau, the most impressive European director of political theater in recent years, arrives at MESS with the play “5 Easy Pieces”, which was also selected in Theatertreffen’s selection among the ten most important performances of last year’s production from the German-speaking field. Dorotee Munyaneza will play the “Unwanted” prediction right on MESS immediately after the premiere in Avignon. The festive sensation of this year’s Festival will be the puppet troupe of Carlo Colla e Figli from Italy who comes with a puppet opera. Particular attention should be paid to productions coming from the region, as well as performances from Bosnia and Herzegovina that are also top-notch artistic achievements.
From how many countries artists come and how many shows will be on the repertoire, at which locations will they be performed?
In various programs, 25 performances, coming from 16 different countries, will be presented. As well as every year, in addition to performances from Europe, we will have performances from Brazil and Argentina, while in French production we will have Dorotee Munyaneza, choreographer and author from Rwanda.
The performances will be played, like every year, in all the Sarajevo’s theaters, but this year we planned to intensify cooperation with theaters and other institutions outside Sarajevo. That is why the opening of this year’s Festival will be held in Zenica, and we plan to make part of the program in other BH cities with which we are trying to intensify cooperation from year to year. The MESS festival, as an event of importance for the state, always tried to not concentrate solely on the capital of the state, but to be truly BH holiday of the theater. We believe that in the future we will succeed in organizing our programs simultaneously in cities throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina during the festival.
MESS is updated every year with the time we live in. Are you continuing with this idea? What will be the theme of this year’s edition?
The festival always strives to be topical in the program and be a kind of reflection of the space and time we live in. We believe that this is an important aspect in terms of enabling not only us in Bosnia and Herzegovina but also audience from other parts of South-East Europe to see some important productions that cannot be viewed on regular repertoires due to the general financial situation in culture, and especially in theaters. We have already mentioned that in the focus of this year’s festival will be atypical narratives, and some of the basic themes of this year’s festival is identity. It is an important for every society today, but I would say especially for us in Bosnia and Herzegovina. From the beginning, MESS Festival has always affirmed diversity as one of the essential values of each, and especially our society.
Can culture and cultural events fix society?
I recently spoke about this topic and I said that I do not really believe that culture or art have that function, or that it has the power to improve society. Culture, that is, art, makes society and all of us individually in essence seems more meaningful, but improving society is the primary business of politicians, such as the work of politicians is to ensure freedom without which art cannot exist. Through art and our work, we only continuously remind that freedom is the oxygen of art, but also of every society. Judging by the attitude towards culture, we can know how free we are, both as artists and as humans. It is so here and anywhere in the world. Speaking on this subject in the context of the time in which we live, I also reminded of Friedrich Nietzchee’s sentence that says, “we have the art in order not to die of the truth.”
What did you prepare for us in the additional contents of the Festival?
In addition to MESS for the youngest additional program will be mainly focused on affirmation of BH Theater through presentation of special theatrical programs, promotion of books and workshops.
MESS for the youngest is especially important to us because it has a goal, apart from presenting programs for the youngest, and generally affirmation of theater and art in our society, since theater is a very important mean of communication between us and society, the societies we live in.