Photo: Dragana Udovičić
Photo: Dragana Udovičić

About the Production

An auteur project by the guest from Germany, Ersan Mondtag, one of the most promising young artists of German and European theatre scene. Living Room in Belgrade Drama Theatre is a part of the eponymous project he started last year in Belgian theatre NTGent. This title is a word play which is untranslatable into Serbian - since it is a living room, i.e. sitting room or, literally translated from English, a room for living.

“My international career was launched two years ago, at 51st Bitef, which makes my relationship with Belgrade quite unique and I’m glad to be back. Living Room, the second part of the trilogy The Living is the story about life. We see an elderly woman who is getting ready for work in her living room. Once the stage rotates, we see a young woman in the same situation. That’s practically the same life over the course of 40 years.”

Ersan Mondtag

The Author

ERSAN MONDTAG was born in Berlin in 1987 and works in the fields of theatre and music, performance and installation. In 2011, he enrolled at the Otto-Falckenberg-Schule in Munich. Two years later, he discontinued his studies there and in 2012, he founded KAPITÆL ZWEI KOLEKTIF. With this collective, he developed durational performances, experimental party formats and interdisciplinary theatre works. During the 2013/14 season, he was a member of the REGIEstudio at Schauspiel Frankfurt and directed 2. Sinfonie (invited to the 2014 “radikaljung”-festivalin Munich), Das Schloss and Orpheus# (invited to the 2015 “radikaljung”-festival). In 2015, Ersan Mondtag created his play TYRANNIS, which earned him an invitation to the 2016 Berlin Theatertreffen. The magazine Theaterheute chose Ersan Mondtag as “Emerging Director of the Year 2016”. He was similarly distinguished as “Set and Costume Designer of the Year”. Ersan Mondtag lives in Berlin. He works at Hamburg’s Thalia Theater, Schauspiel Frankfurt, Maxim Gorki Theater in Berlin and Münchner Kammerspiele, among others. His production of Die Vernichtung, devised together with Olga Bach, is Mondtag’s first work as a director in Switzerland. In the 2018/19 season Mondtag continued his collaboration with Olga Bach (Dr. ALICI, Münchner Kammerspiele). In 2019, he staged the performance De Living for NT Gent, and came to Bitef for the second time, as a member of the jury.


From Ersan Mondtag’s Interview for Večernje Novosti

N Asked in the exclusive interview for our newspapers how he chose this “female” story, the young director says:
-    First of all, I think we should not think so much in gender terms, and I wouldn’t necessarily call this a female story - Ersan Mondtag says. - What I was particularly interested in was how in 1980, on the day of Tito’s death, a young person (back then an opera singer, and pregnant too) decided to wrap up her dreams and go out into the world. She doesn’t know to which extent the life was going to change (her own life in the first place), how the Yugoslav region would change, and where she would end up in 2020. Meanwhile, one can conclude that the story of her life was created, changed and shaped by this entire political environment. Maybe I would like to cast a melancholic glance towards this woman’s life, without any political concretization. 
N You have said that we must pretend we will establish harmony, although we are aware that we will never manage to do so. Has that utopia become even more elusive now, in the times of the pandemics?
-    Although I am known for my optimism, it is not easy to see the world so optimistically nowadays. Trump has shaken us up really well over the past three years, and the pandemics has delivered the final blow. I hope that economic instability in Europe and in the whole world will not trick us into making a mistake of starting to destroy one fragile thing - culture, which somehow links our global lives into a whole, by denying it the necessary material support. For, without culture there is no civilization, without civic action there is no humanity, and without humanity, we are merely barbarians. Which we certainly do not want to be!
N If the past few years have been marked by a migration surge, are we now in the opposite “state”: inability to move, fear of the crowd and of crossing borders?
-    We should first stop using the terms that come from the right-wing politics. Linking the terms “migration” and “surge” belongs to the right-wing terminology or framing. The word “surge” suggests it’s a natural disaster. But, it is not a natural disaster when people flee war-torn areas, it’s a consequence of our western civilization which has economic interests in the afflicted regions, and which sells weapons in those regions thus forcing people to leave their homes. That is why we cannot talk about “migration surge”, but about movement of refugees, if we can call it that.
N How does your third encounter with Belgrade look like, under the circumstances? What are your first impression about the two actresses?
-    When I received the invitation from the Belgrade Drama Theatre, I didn’t hesitate. Although their financial situation is different than the one in the theatres I cooperate with, I knew I wanted to do this. I want to return the favour to Belgrade in some way! Who would know I’d come during some kind of “state of emergency”, but as far as I can tell, the city is holding up quite well. As for my cooperation with the actresses, I must say that I’ve come to really love them. I think it’s fabulous that they are a mother and a daughter, two talented and renowned actresses, highly educated and insightful. Our conversations have already made it clear that we are embarking on a very interesting journey. Hopefully, the audience will think that too.
Vukica Strugar
Belgrade, 6th July 2020