23 May 2018

The new premiere of the Croatian Drama, The Presidents by Werner Schwab in the direction of Bojana Lazić, is premiered on Monday 28th May 2018 at 19:30 hours at the CNT Ivan pl. Zajc. The staging features three excellent actresses, always equally brilliant, in dramatic as well as comic roles, namely, Mariedl is the Rijeka Theatre guest Katarina Bistrović Darvaš, who with her role of Celimene in The Misanthrope thrilled the Rijeka audience last season, the CNT Ivan pl. Zajc drama soloist Olivera Baljak is in the role of Greta, while Erna is Tanja Smoje, the Croatian Drama actress whose comeback to the Zajc stage is eagerly expected.

The Presidents (Die Präsidentinnen) are the first drama piece of the greatest punker among writers and the most controversial Austrian dramatist Werner Schwab (1958 – 1994).  He studied sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, while he appeared in the theatre with his first texts suddenly, at the end of 1989, when he aroused a lot of attention of theatre circles. Already in 1992, he was proclaimed the dramatist of the year, when he became the most represented author on the stages of the theatre in German language. In the early morning hours of 1st January 1994, he dies, being 35 years old. In the four, exceptionally productive years of creative work, he wrote sixteen plays. He received numerous prominent awards and recognitions.

“Nowadays, Werner Schwab is a classic of Austrian literature and theatre in the German speaking world. To put it simply, Erna, Greta and Mariedl are the presidents of small bourgeois lives, social hypocrisy and repressed instincts”, says the director of the staging Bojana Lazić.

The dramaturge Olga Dimitrijević speaking of the small bourgeois mentality in The Presidents: “In Schwab’s first piece, the disgust for the body and its excrements is manipulated and gloated with in the very language of the drama. Although Erna, Greta and Mariedl are women from lower classes who continually talk of the basic functions of human body, what Schwab is making fun of are not lower classes themselves, but ignorant bourgeois projections of the dirt on them”.

In The Presidents, Schwab describes a dark and cruel, yet immensely funny world. You will be able to experience yourself the sick humour bluntness of his characters. “All is funny when you’re thinking of life”, “You have to be able to put up with the world as it is”, claimed Schwab.

The Presidents turn the things upside down; they are the metaphor of the post-war Austria, at that time the toilet blocked with the excrements of unspoken secrets and repressions. In Schwab’s one act play with three scenes, Erna, Greta and Mariedl have surrealistically funny discussions on individual and family problems framed in obscene phantasies, watching the Pope on television, talking about Erna’s terrible son, Greta’s Freddi with a thick forefinger and Mariedl’s uncommon job, namely, cleaning toilets without rubber gloves. It is through a painfully distorted language of a furious parody, humorous absurd and a different structure of drama, that Schwab clearly articulated the repression of the past, emotional coldness, perverted sexuality and hasty religiosity of the post-war Austria, thus polarising the public and the critics.

His works brought him fame as well as destructive criticism. While some condemned and humiliated him, others, who were thrilled with his work, tried to imitate his specific language full of ambiguity. He experimented with strong expressive means and moody expressions, discovering the new language of literature by making fun of the known one. He was not concerned about being understood, which definitely makes the translator’s work harder. In Croatia it was Sead Muhamedagić to undertake this interesting and challenging task, while the book Radical Comedies with his translations of Schwab’s plays with Željka Turčinović as editor, in the edition of the Croatian ITI Centre, will be presented on the day of the premiere in the foyer of the Rijeka Theatre at 12 hours.

On the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of Werner Schwab’s birth, the project was supported by the Austrian Cultural Forum.

The Presidents’ team of authors comprises the director Bojana Lazić and the dramaturge Olga Dimitrijević, who have also adapted the text after the translation by Sead Muhamedagić. Vladimir Pejković is the author of music, Zorana Petrov the set designer, Manuela Paladin Šabanović the costume designer and Damjan Kecojević the movement director.

The reruns of The Presidents are on 29th and 30th May at 19:30 hours at the CNT Ivan pl. Zajc.