THE DOLL SHIP

Milena Marković

Directed by Ana Tomović

Premiere - 24th September 2008
Serbian National Theatre, "Pera Dobrinovic" Stage

Duration: 1 hour and 25 minutes


Composer: Darko Rundek
Dramaturgs: Vuk Ršumović and Svetislav Jovanov
Scenographer: Ljerka Hribar
Costume Designer: Momirka Bailović
Choreographer: Saša Krga
Masks and Make up: Vladimir Radovanović
Organizer: Elizabeta Fabri
Sound Designer: Marinko Vukmanović
Stage Manager: Vladimir Savin
Prompter: Snežana Kovačević
Light Engineer: Mirko Čeman
Sound Engineer: Тodor Savin


The Cast:
Little sister, Alice, Snow White, Goldilocks, Thumbelina, Princess, Woman, Witch
JASNA ĐURIČIĆ

Mother (of Woman), Mama Bear
DRAGINJA VOGANJAC

Big sister (of Woman), Gretel
MILICA GRUJIČIĆ

Doc, Papa Bear, Frog
RADOJE ČUPIĆ

Grumpy, Hunter
NENAD PEĆINAR

Dopey, Baby Bear, Eaglet, Eagle, Hansel
RADOVAN VUJOVIĆ

The Musicians
flute: Ksenija Bašić, Dejana Živković
drums: Ištvan Čik, Robert Pongo
guitar: Vladan Janković
harmonica: Dragan Mirković, Lazar Novkov
double bass: Siniša Mazalica, Ervin Malina


Sceneplay:
1. Shack
Little Sister, Big Sister, Mama
2. Road
Alice, Big Sister
3. Forest
Doc, Dopey, Grumpy, Snow White
4. Cave
Mama Bear, Papa Bear, Baby Bear, Goldilocks
5. Swamp
Frog, Thumbelina
6. Nest
Hunter, Princess, Eaglets
7. Dark Borough
Eagle, Woman
8. Hansel and Gretel
Hansel, Gretel, Witch


Stage, costumes and all the acompanying material were made in the workshops of the Serbian National Theatre.


MILENA MARKOVIĆ, Author


Born on April 9th 1974 in Zemun. She finished the primary and secondary school in Belgrade. She graduated from the Faculty of Dramatic Arts in Belgrade, Dramaturgy track, with her play Pavilions, or where am I going, where do I come from and what's for dinner, in June 1998. 
April 2001 – Her play, Pavilions, or where am I going, where do I come from and what's for dinner, directed by Alisa Stojanović, was preformed for the first time in the Yugoslav National Theatre in Belgrade. Her collection of poems The dog who ate the Sun was published by Flavio Rigonat. The collection had three more editions.
June 2001 – Her play Pavilions... directed by Srđan Janićijević, was preformed in the Macedonian National Theatre.
December 2001 – Milena Marković was awarded by the M.B.H Theatre from Vienna for her play Pavilions...
June 2002 – Jaka Ivanc graduates at the Faculty of Drama in Ljubljana, with the play Pavilions... written by Milena Marković.
Јuly – August 2002 - with her play God help us all - Rails she took part in the summer residence of Royal Court Theatre in London
October 2002 – The opening night of her play God help us all – Rails, directed by Zijah Sokolović, in the M.B.H Theater in Vienna.
November 2002 – The premiere of her play Rails, directed by Slobodan Unkovski, in the Yugoslav National Theatre. With her collection of poems she took part in a public reading at the Royal Dramatic Theater in Stockholm.
May 2003 – The same plane was performed in Poznań, in Poland, directed by Rafal Sabara.
October 2003 – She publishes her second collection of poems The horny truth, published by LOM/ Flavio Rigonat.
Јune 2004 – The play Rails, directed by Rafal Sabara, is performed at the Sterijino Pozorje theater festival. Milena Marković received a Special Award for her play.
Rails, in the performance of the Yugoslav National Theatre takes part at the Festival of the New Drama in Wiesbaden. Her play, Rails was published in the German theatrical magazine Theater Heute.
September 2004 – Milena Marković takes part in the project SWITCH, an exchange programme between the Scandinavian and Balkan countries; poetry reading in Stockholm and Göteborg.
In December 2004 and January 2005, she was writing a script and also took part in the making of the documentary The Mine Opera, in Bor. The film was directed by Oleg Novković.
In February, her play The Happy forest was preformed for the first time in the Schauspielhaus in Zürich.
October 2005 – Milena Marković is the first winner of the Borislav Mihajlović Mihiz Award for drama, for her play The Doll Ship. Her collection of plays was published by the First Serbian library in Irig.
November 2005 – Premiere of her play Rails, in Aachen, Germany.
Milena Marković wrote the script for the movie Tomorrow morning, which was directed by Oleg Novković and produced by Zillion Film, Belgrade.
May 2006 – Premiere of her play The Foundling Simeon, written at special request of the Serbian National Theatre, for the celebration in honor of Jovan Sterija Popović. The play was a co-production of the Serbian National Theatre and Sterijino pozorje. The play was directed by Tomi Janežič.
Јune 2006 – The first performance of her play The Doll Ship, directed by Slobodan Unkovski, at the Yugoslav National Theatre.
June 2007 – Milena Marković obtains the Sterija Award for her play The Foundling Simeon.


FAIRY TALE, ASSOCIATIONS

First of all, fairy tales are very cruel. The life itself is cruel and fairy tales represent the initiation into the adult world.
It can be different but the seekers must go through certain bloody rituals. These rituals mean that you have to go through something, to make your feet bleed, you have to know or at least have to guess, you must have someone who will help you find. So, Mr. Venture is somebody very important when fairy tales are concerned, and that Mr… likes to be the cause of horror and fear. There is nothing God-like in fairy tales, only something magical. Sometimes, it is not those with the head start who end up as winners, but those with the miracle. That's why there’s an artist in this play. She possesses the miracle inside herself. Beside being a miracle, she is also a monster. It means, however, that it’s not a fairy tale or that it is a fairy tale that ate itself, bitting it’s own tale on some bloody carousel. Also, fairy tales are natural. They are physiological, they have all the basic colors and bares relationships. They are sensual. The best fairy tales have no edification. That’s why they have no use in comforting, but they are supposed to thrill and strengthen. And they prepare for death. Only the monsters and artists stay alive, and we tell stories about them, and fear them too.
Milena MARKOVIĆ



CRITICAL CONFRONTATION WITH THE ARCHETYPE OF FAIRY TALES

SVETISLAV JOVANOV, Dramaturg


The first two plays written by Milena Marković Pavillions and Rails, show the characteristics which testify of the maturing of an autonomous mode in the landscape of the New Serbian drama. The most important characteristics are certainly the rejection of the world set by ideological rules (through the intimate confessions about spleen, anger and the overall confusion of the urban youth) and the transfer of the characters from (most commonly psychological) levels of the representation to the world of the circumstantial, sensory being.
The author's third play: The Doll Ship (2005) expands this inovative charge, entering the critical and the eruditely based confrontation with the archetypes of the fairy tale; the author shows that the focusing on the rhetorical inheritance (variation, paraphrase, pastiche or commentator's destructuralization of the motifs, plots and functions in the play) does not in any case exclude neither further stylistic/linguistic research, nor the articulations of the new type of the postmodern theatrical illusion. However, the dominant strategy of this play can be discovered in the development of the relations between the matrix of the story (to which the plot points) and the absolute request of the Heroine to discover herself. From that urge, a new drama age marked by allegory was born.

On the plot stucture level, the multi-formed and multi-named heroine is, at least in the first seven varieties of the archetype of the fairy tale, at the begining set as a seemingly passive figure with a strictly given function. If each of the marked narratives would be shaped all the way, we would find ourselves standing in front of a relatively simple case of experiental maturing of the modernist drama subject, by the means of (certainly ”ritual") initiation. Milena Marković, however, in each of these varieties disrupts the logical order of the plot, as well as the symbolical hierarchy of meanings; the story stops, bends, it comments, turns into meta-theme, or redoubles. And, last but not least, it changes the archetypical, and most commonly, the passive, augury of the female protagonist. With this act, the initiation is gradually transformed into it's own opposite, and the closed time chain of the archetypical story becomes a place of the fragmentary embodiment of one (potentially) absolute Desire, or more precisely, the always unique and never enough possesed moment:

FROG
So, who was your first love then?
THUMBELINA
A few of them...
FROG
Did you suffer?
THUMBELINA
No...
FROG
How come?
THUMBELINA
Dopey was there.
FROG
And the boat?
THUMBELINA
My father made the boat. He'd make a boat every year and put the old toys in it, once it was a teddy without an eye, then a doll without her head, them some panths that were so old that you could see right through them, and lots of other stuff. I couldn't bear parting with those things, so he'd make a boat, put the things in it and say that the teddy bear is going to his mama bear somewhere far away, and that the doll is going to see the doll prince who would then put her head back on and it was a real ceremony...
FROG
So, that figure you've been dreaming of was actually your father...
THUMBELINA
My father was no figure, my father was my father... What are you talking about...

With the strenghtening of the "cycle" of the associative scenes, we see that it is not about maturing (or even encouraging stories, contraposing, or about analogical branching) but about the re-positioning of the dramatical figure. That is also one of the Marković's strategical components, the variety of places on which the figure moves are enabled by the genre metamorphosis. The transition from the cinical melodrama (Snow White) to a satirical parabole about small town mentality (Goldilocks) and then the moving away from the expressionist tragedy (The Dark Land) towards the grotesque (Hansel and Gretel), and maybe even more the incompatibility of their ilusionistic levels, makes each time continuity of the archetype-ritual-initiation, but also the possible Bildungstück (as a product of such figures) become accidental: The time is merely the tension between the formula and desire.
Moreover, that tension is irreversible and ironic: if not so, why would the heroine cross over the allegorical and not the biographical distance between the Girl in the first and the Witch in the last variety? Instead of using a ritual to get to the Same, by means of the allegorical montage one gets to the Other; that kind of embodiement in the fragmentary allegorical time – where re-birth is only a new, temporary death – which only supports the sufferings of the heroine, but it doesn't allow her to identify herself with any kind of well-rounded, final meaning.
Svetislav JOVANOV



Aleksandar MILOSAVLJEVIĆ, GENERAL MANAGER


The dramatic structure of Milena Markovic's texts appears more intensive from play to play, corresponding with the sensibility of her poetry (the collections of poems The Dog That Ate the Sun, The Truth in Heat, and The Black Spoon). Even her early plays (Pavilions, or Where I Am Going, Where I Come from and What’s for Dinner; or God Had Mercy on Us - Tracks), to say the truth, had a strong poetic charge. Both are characterized by the author's ability to create a significantly poetic atmosphere additionally enforcing the impression of cruelty of the world she wrote about.
However, in her latest dramatic opus: White, White World, The Doll Ship, and Simeon the Foundling, what at first appeared as extrinsic, as being imported into drama from the sphere of poetry, now ever more clearly establishes itself as an authentic poetic principle, a specific literary procédé to which the form of poetic drama no longer serves as an alibi or immediate association.
Nevertheless, the trail that starts in her poems can lead us, but only to a certain extent, towards an understanding of this author’s dramatic method. Namely, on the one side there are the unusually constructed lines corresponding to the apparent roughness and rawness of her verses, as if they were exact replicas of everyday talk, just like her (quasi)Brechtian usage of songs, while on the other side is the author’s ability to authentically destroy from the inside and modify again the particular elements of reality (sometimes taken over from so-called life, in this case based on the commonplaces from fairy tales).
In the case of The Doll Ship, a specific collision occurs between the archetypical model of the intricate world of fairy tales, and the bare essence of a reality we know all too well – a reality freed from crumbling crusts that give an educational purpose to fairy tales as reading material.
The result offered by Milena Markovic is the truth, and a painfully frightening one at that. We can agree with it but we don’t have to, yet it is powerful, provocative, and convincing, and on stage potentially strong in a way that is understood in the kind of theatre in which everything becomes possible. In this drama we can recognize what we all (consciously, or more often – unconsciously) search for; we can get entangled into the obscure depths of psychoanalytic groundwater, we can get amused by the Jungian distinction of the opposite side of the archetypical, we can read interpretations in the path of new European drama into its scenes, but those interpretations will surely chip off the poetic power of this drama – as always happens when trying to interpret good poetry. "This is not a world for children. I don’t want children", says Hunter, a dramatis persona from Milena’s drama The Doll Ship; but this statement here does not function as a banal - today even pathetic, largely worn-out slogan ever since Hamlet’s advice to Ophelia – as a manifest stated by one of the conscious representatives of an unconscious world. For, just a few lines later, the same Hunter will say this as well: “I don’t care. I don’t care to be sixty and have a ten-year-old, I don’t care about kids at all, I couldn’t care less about this one of mine until I’m able to sit and talk with him”.
And that, in fact, is the knot. It is just there – in conversation – where the real trouble and real pain begin. No matter how crudely open and cruelly sincere it was, no matter what language was used, it repeatedly reveals the old secrets of the world, those that the author, in a seemingly innocent, yet in fact frightening way, sublimates in every song of the drama.
And because of all that, The Doll Ship carriesa hidden (poisonous) rhythm of energy characteristic to the perception of the world immanent to the authentic and darkest romanticism, a weltanschauung that gave up on diagnosing the state of matter in this world, which is not amazed by anything, or disgusted over reality, does not bother enjoying its own (fruitless) irony, and at the same time does not give up the right to talk loudly, to tell (its own) the truth. It does not waive its right to rebel. Punk!
Aleksandar MILOSAVLJEVIĆ


ANA TOMOVIĆ, Director


Born in 1979, in Belgrade. She graduated Theater and Radio Directing from the Faculty of Dramatic Arts in Belgrade, with professor Egon Savin and TA Dušan Petrović. She directed several plays: Creeps , written by Lutz Hübner (Belgrade Drama Theatre), The Duck, written by Stella Feehily (The Kraljevo National Theatre), Halflife, written by Filip Vujosevic (Atelier 212), The return of Casanova, by Arthur Schnietzler (The Serbian National Theatre), Monogamy, by Stella Feehily (The National Theatre in Sombor); she was the author of the projects Trtmrtzivotilismrt (BELEF, 2007) and Norway. Today, by Igor Bauresima (a co-producton between the Belgrade National Theatre and the National Theatre in Krusevac). She won the award as the best director with her play The Duck, at Joakimfest in 2005, and in 2006, the play Halflife, directed by her was performed at the Sterijino Pozorje Festival. From 1998 up till 2005 she was the editor of the BITEF bulletins. She was assistant director at the project Fast sicher at the "Theater am Neumarkt" in Zurich in 2007, and she was granted a scholarship by the Goethe Institute and spent time on studies at the "Thalia Theatre" in Hamburg in 2008.

Alice: Please, can you tell me the way to go from here?
Cheshire cat: Well, dear, it mostly depends on where you want to get to.
The unusual, unique and emotional poetic world of Milena Marković was like a riddle to me. I felt it deeply though I could not explain it quite rationally. I quickly came to the conclusion that I should not even bother and that our innate instinct towards rationalizing was in this case useless. Finally, I decided to share that riddle with the audience.
Ana TOMOVIĆ



VUK RŠUMOVIĆ, Dramaturg


During his studies at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts, where he studied dramaturgy, he started writing scripts for short feature films. Up till now he has written about fourteen scripts for movies, some of which were awarded in Serbia and other countries. He also writes scripts for animated films and documentaries. He wrote scripts for two TV series. He worked as a dramaturg on several performances in many different places in Serbia: Half life (Atelier 212, Belgrade), The Return of Casanova (The Serbian National Theatre, Novi Sad), Monogamy ( The National Theatre, Sombor), The Duck (The National Theater, Kraljevo). Along with Branko Dimitrijević and Ana Tomović he made an adaptation of the Arthur Schnietzler novella The Return of Casanova.




SYLLABUS
Fairy tale – does not see the world and what is happening within itself objectively, but from the perspective of a hero who is still a growing up child. Fairy tales represent symbols by which the unconscious can be rendered into the conscious. Both myths and fairy tales answer the eternal questions: what is the world actually like? How do I survive? How can I truly be what I am? The answers the myth provides us are specific while fairy tale can be suggestive, the messages it sends may give us the answers but they never interpret them most definitely. The fairy tales leave it to the child’s imagination to decide whether or how much of the story that discovers life and human nature it should apply to his own life. Each fairy tale is a magical mirror which reflects some aspects of our inner world and steps essential for our development from immaturity to maturity.
Two sisters - in most of the tales about two brothers or two sisters one rushes to the world looking for some perils, while the other one stays at home.
The Father – The duty of a father is to protect his child from the dangers of the outside world, and from the ones which origin in the child’s associal behaviors. The child deprived of the father’s protection must make it’s own way.
Alice – a character from Lewis Carroll's book Alice in Wonderland. It’s a story about a girl who falls through a rabbit's hole, into this magical world settled by strange and anthropomorphic beings, of which she finally manages to get out. Curiosity is her main personality trait. Alice asks the Cheshire Cat ‘Can you please tell me where to go from here?’ ‘Well, my dear, that mostly depends on where you want to go,’ said the Cat.
The Forest – the entrance in a forest symbolizes the entrance to the unconscious. Leaving the safe world. Everything is undefined in the forest. The forest is dark, inhospitable, dangerous. But it is like that mainly because of fear. Once freed of fear, the hero will come to realize that the forest hides many treasures. The forest symbolizes the place in which we face our inner darkness and process it, where all the doubts about what we are are cleared and where we start to realize who we want to be. Being lost in a forest is an ancient symbol for the human need to find himself.
Snow White – In Snow White, some exterior difficulty, such as poverty, is not the issue, the problem lies in the relationship between Snow White and her parents. As soon as the child's position in the family becomes a problem for him or his parents, the process of the esacape from the horrid triad begins. A child embarks on a trip, desperate and alone in search of itself – in a battle where the others are a background which can either boost or stop the process. In some fairy tales the hero must seek, travel and suffer for years in his lonely existence before he is ready to find, save another person and begin a relationship with him or her which would finally give sense to their lives. In Snow White, the years she spends with the Dwarfs, mark the time of trouble, resolving issues and her period of growing up.
The Dwarfs – an imagined home, far away from the real home. Snow White's experience from far away from home was not good. The dwarfs can't protect her. The dwarfs never grow to be mature adults, they are permanently stuck in the pre-edipal stage (the dwarfs have no parents, the don't get married, they don't have children) and they are simply a background which only emphasizes the important events in Snow White's life.
Goldilocks – an intruder which threatens the integration of the basic family constelation and therefore also threatens the emotional security of the family. The outsider which disrupts other people's peace and ransacks their property - the character which threatens the emotional well-being and the security of a family. How and why the girl got lost in the woods is unknown, as well as why she would need a shelter, and where her home really is. She would always remain a stranger who never becomes a part of the community... There is no happy ending with Goldilocks.
Thumbelina – the story of a girl the size of a thumb. One of the first fairy tales by Andersen which shows the sufferings of the outsiders, those who are different and as such are mocked. Thumbelina is, however, a hero to become. She has all the traits of a real hero, but she is still small.
The Hunter – The Hunter is the one who dominates the wild, blood-thirsty beasts and controlls and defeats them. In the unconscious, the hunter is a symbol of protection. In children's dreams as well as in reality, it is being threatened and chased by angry animals, the products of their fears and feeling of guilt. Only the parent-hunter, as felt by the child, can scare away these animals, and permanently keep them away from te child's door. That's why the hunter in fairy tales is not the character that kills the enemies. The hunter is before all a protective hero which can set us free and keep us away from the dangers of our own and other people's violent feelings.
The Eagle – the emperor bird; symbolizes the state of transcedence. It is the carrier of the souls. He carries the hero from one world to the other. It is also someone who is insatiable, and can never satisfy his hunger. It symbolizes the thrill and the passion of spirit. However, the eagle is also a predator who grabs his pray with his claws, and takes it to a place the pray can't escape from, and as such is also a symbol of amazing will-power which devours. Somebody who eats someone's intestines.
The Witch – a being, (usually female) considered to have supernatural powers that come from the devil. An ugly woman with an evil look. The witch casts the spells. A woman with supernatural power.



More photos and videos...