Our friend Slaven Kranjc was a proud student of the Political Sciences when we met. He saw one of the shows that The EVENT THEATER proudly presented at the famous SKC in Belgrade and came to tell us that he had a better place for us in mind. No, he didn't mean the correctional institution of any sort. He came to that later. At first he just wanted us to move our activities to the neighborhood where he would offer us a better deal. Anyway, why don't we listen to the tape of that conversation?
THE PLACE; Restaurant MANJEZ, Belgrade, South East Europe.
SLAVEN: Waiter, two brandies over here, and try to make it
today! (turns towards me) You still here? Good. I like your
play. Good, funny stuff. Too profound for me, almost
esoteric, bordering on obscure... But, and this is
important, it's the first time I enjoyed a show that did not
have a car chase or naked people in it. I guess it's good.
ME: Actually, I wanted to have somebody unclothed on stage but our most likely candidate, Dragana, has a father who's a retired Army Officer...
SLAVEN: Say no more. Anyway, "to present the uttermost to the eye is to bind the wings of fancy"!
ME: I'll drink to that!
SLAVEN: If it's all right with you, I'll review your plays some more: see, the way they all end, nobody dies, nobody gets married, nobody comes up with some big revelation, and still you come out with a sense that you've witnessed a well rounded, finished peace of art.
ME: Can I have one of your cigarettes?
SLAVEN: This strictly among us: I can't stand those plays that are intimate journeys towards self-revelation that will never happen... You know, theater-as-therapy, plays that do not invite us in, because they were not written with anybody but the author in mind. The author who was looking forward to achieve some degree of personal catharsis from writing. Oh, and the pain that I've felt while sitting through numerous plays without focus, that splatter outward in every direction...
ME: Do you have any money? Who's gonna pay for all this?
SLAVEN: I'll pay! That's the least I can do for such a genius. You have no idea what an honor and delight this is. Oh, there are so many things I would like to know, I don't know where to start... Tell me, do you write to discuss a social issue or to demand a change in a society or to explore the mystery of life or are you interested more in Prometean striving for omnipotence and omniscience...
ME: Waiter, one more round over here! (turning towards Slaven) Young man, I like you and that's why I hate to disappoint you. I write comedies. The best I can hope for is to write a farce in which possible people will be doing improbable things. I've read it somewhere as a definition of a good farce and that is what I'll try to write. I too hate plays that you've described, and which I call "out of gas and in the middle of nowhere plays". I would like to write a play about teenage suicide or about perpetrators of the lost causes, but only if I can make it funny. And I can, I know I can! Where's that brandy?!
SLAVEN: Perpetrators? Lost causes? Don't get us into a trouble! I know you artists! Always looking for an opportunity to provoke some controversy. After you spent a couple of years in jail, you're off to the West to go on a lecturing circuit. "How I suffered in the hands of the Communists only because I tried to freely express myself!" And at the reception afterwards, you confidence bolstered by some cheap white wine, you find yourself reciting Yesenin in Russian to a wide-eyed female holder of a master's degree in English...
ME: Sounds good.
SLAVEN: But in reality it's a destiny worse than death. A great Russian writer, after only a few months in the West, wrote: "without any censorship in the West, fashionable trends are fastidiously separated from those that are not fashionable. And the latter, without ever being forbidden, have little chance of finding their way into periodicals or books or being heard in colleges. Their scholars are free in e legal sense, but they are hemmed in by the idols of the prevailing fad. A selection dictated by fashion and the need to accommodate mass standards frequently prevents the most independent minded persons from contributing to public life and gives rise to dangerous heard instinct that block successful development." Up to the point, isn't it?
ME: Huh? Oh, sorry young man, I've been wondering about that looking at the brunette over there. She looks familiar... Anyway, you were saying?
End of tape.
But this was not the end of our interchange. You may try tape number 2 or you may go get yourself some beer.