‘Timbuktu – a must see play!’ by Nevenka Sudar (http://tricenasesvakodnevice.blog.hr)

On Saturday night I watched the play TIMBUKTU you’ve probably read about these past days. For those who don’t know, in short, the leading role belongs to a dog whose voice is borrowed by Sven Medvešek. The play was directed by Borut Šeparović from Montažstroj, and the play will be performed only one more weekend on the stage of Zagreb Puppet Theater in Travno. The play is based on Paul Auster’s novel (the translation is available in Croatia).
Anyway, the play is phenomenal. I say this not as a dog lover, since all dog lovers find this play to be very difficult and painful. It is a play that hits you in the plexus and it takes a lot of good will and self-control not to burst into tears or scream. The play is phenomenal because one extremely creative man, Borut – the director of this play, made a theater play from a novel that took a lot of courage and plenty of patience. The directors ability to “translate” a written text into theater images – whose intention is to charm you with REALITY and not to let you abandon yourself in any moment to the safety of artistic detachment in which you as a viewer might securely and without consequence observe “the others”, those who aren’t you, those who live different lives from yours, those who don’t really concern you when you are not watching them, those who you usually don’t see or think about for – simply fascinates. Borut does not allow that in his play. In every moment he draws you into reality with his ingenious directing method, without giving you the space to escape into your own self-satisfaction for not belonging in the world shown on the stage. He draws you into the content, makes you a part of that content, instead of a just another passive observer. You are not a viewer who will clap his/her approval after the final scene, happily withdrawing and forgetting what he/she saw. (The applause at the end of the play is actually difficult to bear and quite bothersome.)
Borut breaks the ILLUSION of a theater in which you as viewers sit in the dark and observe the actors you know don’t REALLY cry or love or grieve or suffer, but act all that out. In this play, just when you think not everything is that awful because this dog, the amazing Cap, is not really a vagrant and a mutt and alone and abandoned as the dog he talks about, and think that everything is actually alright and that this is a smart play in which you’ve seen an excellently trained dog and admired the skill of his coach and the humor in the text and the voice of Sven who invisibly told it all, that is the moment Borut wakes you up with a “slap” and says NO, you are not here to think that, you are here to FACE the harsh reality, the REAL dogs who LIVE the life Cap talks about and does not actually live it. And when these REAL dogs appear behind an iron fence, and REAL people appear in the audience, the homeless characters the play is about, there is suddenly no theatrical illusion, there is only REALITY, common, the one we share every day. The only difference is that in everyday reality we can chose NOT TO SEE these real abandoned, abused, neglected dogs and these real abandoned, unhappy, lonely homeless people, while in this „play“ we cannot avoid it. It makes us look at what we close our eyes to every day. It makes us face the reality we chose not to recognize. Ant that’s how the play becomes not a theater piece, not an artistic expression, NOT ACTING, but the opposite – a part of reality.
This play is an event in every way. A reality turned into art, and an art of creating reality. True art, a work of a true artist whose creativity is to me a true revelation. Kudos to the actor Sven, whose voice from the darkness completely invokes every nuance of the text, and whose presence at the end of the play is the icing on the cake. In one article about the play he said: “Life has more quality with a dog than without one” and “Since my dog passed away, my quality of life decreased. A dog was my first family member. I had him before children and she taught me what it means to raise someone. She raised me and I raised her. My dog taught me patience” and thus deserved my respect as a human being, and not just as an actor.
I hope you will find the time to see this play, you have only one more weekend left – and if it touches you just a little, leave home with one of the orphans from the Dumovec shelter who, unaware of the theater around them, live their real lives on stage – of those abandoned, rejected and scorned.
Get in touch with Montažstroj if you wish to adopt any one of these beautiful dogs, or forward this information to as many addresses possible. See more on Montažstroj’s web page.
P.S. Not Sven, though



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