The 57th Belgrade International Theatre Festival (BITEF) celebrated its grand opening at the Yugoslav Drama Theatre, marked by a touching speech from director Bora Drašković and the acclaimed German production “Children of the Sun” directed by Mateja Koležnik.
“Life and art equally support the Chinese proverb: Everything is connected. When a butterfly flaps its wings in Madagascar, a storm starts in Belgrade, at least on stage,” Drašković mentioned in his address. In 1967, he was a part of the inaugural committee and jury for the first BITEF.
Reflecting on BITEF’s rich history, which he calls a celebration of new theatre, Drašković recalled key performances and noted distinguished global figures who graced the festival, including Yuri Lyubimov, Andrzej Wajda, Peter Brook, Robert Wilson, Ingmar Bergman, and Samuel Beckett.
The event featured “Children of the Sun,” a production of Germany’s Schauspielhaus Bochum. Award-winning Slovenian director Mateja Koležnik offers a fresh take on Maxim Gorky’s work. The production brilliantly modernises the narrative for a contemporary audience, grappling with a world constantly redefined by crises, complemented by outstanding costumes from Ana Savić Gecan and exquisite set design by Rajmund Orfeo Vojt.
Prior to the opening, a ceremonial cocktail was hosted by BITEF and the Delegation of the European Union in Serbia, where attendees were welcomed by BITEF’s artistic director Nikita Milivojević and EU’s Deputy Head of Delegation in Serbia, Plamena Halačeva.
The opening saw a host of dignitaries, including the Assistant Minister of Culture Radovan Jokić, ambassadors from Germany, Belgium, Greece, Czech Republic, UK, France, and Spain, along with numerous theatre directors, actors like Milena Vasić, Tamara Krcunović, Vladimir Aleksić, and many more.