Radio Slovenija

14 October 2016

Of everything that surrounds the performance Our Violence and Your Violence it is the choice of theme that sticks out the most. A request, crafted using theatre means, to Europe and Europeans to take responsibility for today’s political and social situation on the continent and in the Middle East. The guilt is detected directly out through the optics of recent history, with the principal motive centred around the claim that Europe is guilty – or co-guilty with all the imperial forces of the west –for four million deaths of Aras that have occurred since the 1990s; [the guilt] beginning with the fact that we have access to oil at acceptable prices. The director uses decidedly two-level method of narration and theatre means to achieve the desired effect. The superficial perception, for example in the responses from abroad, quickly met with resistance, indignation and self-defensive stance. [...] But detailed observation, listening and experiencing the atmospheric undulation in the performance speaks primarily about a great artistic work. How sophisticatedly does the director lead the spectator from scene to scene and thus weaves almost tangible links; he lets the spectator breathe, confuses him, angers, saddens, and at the same time imbues him with his mastery.

Petra Tanko


15 October 2016

Our Violence and Your Violence directed by Oliver Frljić is a precise, well thought through and quiet performance. With it, Frljić explores the power of theatre going in the direction he’s already drafted in The Ristić Complex, breaking away from direct manipulation and noisy aggressive bombarding of audience and shifting towards a strong symbolism of images and deeds and allowing duration in which, behind the seemingly calm surface of images, the fundamental and inevitable antagonism of phenomena splits open. The latter is why we cannot consider the performance as a simple accusation to Europeans or tossing the collective guilt on European audiences who sit quietly in theatre halls while thousands of people from the Middle East are dying (the declaration about such guilt and contempt is delivered by an actor after he’d transformed himself into a refugee corpse and thus gained the right to the message). Quite the opposite, it is more about the probing of the complex geopolitical situation, focused on some crucial assumptions regarding the so-called refugee crisis and the reactions within Europe, including the colonial history and economic supremacy of European politics and the analysis of the “western European” mentality, which includes both, the indices for normative humanism as well as the fear from losing comfort and safety. In questioning how to think this predicament of the present European space and life in it, the excellent cast largely uses populist commentary and media representations, which it sets up in rich referential and recognisable visual stage scenes – as if these phenomena and images, simplified for showing in public, acquired a status of contemporary icons – but turns them, within the individual scenes, into an opposite extreme and thus allows them to develop as phenomena that combine several different, also antagonistic aspects and allow for different perspectives and understandings. By borrowing and covert irony in the use of material the performance already clearly declares its own participation (and responsibility) in all this European duplicity and crisis; the frivolity of representation (from the violence to the image of migrants that turn their tragedy into a performance to entertain others) is emphasised on purpose, sometimes the acting pushes it into a caricature (that is not far from reality), to idiocy (in the scene of taking it out on terrorist captives). But also explicitly, particularly in the tense situation of the violent “hospitality” towards the Syrian refugee with the statement that they acted out the scene because they’re paid to do so. With this, the dual title “our/your” doesn’t simply present the comparison of the European and non-European violence in the wider meaning of the word; this dualism is applied by the creative team onto their own acts towards the (European) audience, because it partly places them/us into the role of those others, foreign, excluded, second class, and with this fluidity of belonging also emphasises the changeability of the common fate. Although the performance doesn’t completely avoid the personal orientation of points of view, it absolutely insists on the inherent conflict and the insolvability of the situation and in the symbolic language allows for the time to feel it; and of particular importance here is the scene of slow killing as opposed to the media carousel of serving the photos of corpses. This slow duration chases out the insensitivity, but also provocation, as it turns the general points of criticism into experiences and a group ideology into a story that counts. Our Violence and Your Violence doesn’t pretend to know the right questions, but shares the painful awareness about the relativity of the current geopolitical constellations and ends with a question for the future.

Nika Arhar


2 November 2016

Because this latest Frljić is actually very carefully measured and precisely gauged. And it is most certainly not on-the-nose, as some blame him. Many. Particularly those, who don’t follow frljićology through time. After all the critical gunfire from the most eminent theatre environments it is difficult to follow this performance unencumbered and uncontaminated, dethatched from the outside influences – this performance which is unbelievably quiet, atypical, in its core. It’s not at all what will most likely be discussed also on the occasion of the coming Croatian premiere – rather than its basic message. The performance with the excellent, mixed cast from the co-producers (Uroš Kaurin, Blaž Šef, Matej Recer, Barbara Babačić, Daša Doberšek, Dean Krivačić, Nika Mišković, Draga Potočnjak in Jerko Marčić) is, despite the externalised noise, despite the excess images and scenes, in fact a “chamber”, intimate one. Such collective performance, such flawlessly working acting mechanism that the Mladinsko has, cannot easily be found in the (Slovenian) theatre. The performance attacks us directly, us, passive in the theatre, who “sit here, while thousands are dying”. Our guilt is at this time the very fact that we’re the citizens of Europe. And this was foreign critics’ biggest reproach to Frljić – that he plays a moral arbiter, that he’s propaganda-like, boring, not deep enough, too obvious, even amateurish. But is he really? The unjust, superficial judgements, because this is precisely what he is not. Thoroughly thought through and subtly conceived theatre, that’s what it is, one that doesn’t build the horrifying and perhaps at times extreme scenes on the excess alone, but has everything vehemently considered and dosed, and we can sense this slowed down vivisection in every streak of the action – from the slow dying to every single sign in the performance. In the scene in which a Muslim migrant is raped with a sow’s head, all the way to the copulation of Christ with a woman wearing hijab. Despite all the horrifying pictures of the monstrous violence, racism, xenophobia, religious fanaticism, killing ... this entire arsenal of cruelty has a deeper reason and perhaps this is one of the most coherent of Frljić’s works. Of course it was inspired by Handke and his Offending the Audience, but even more so by Peter Weiss’s trilogy The Aesthetics of Resistance, but its power lies in the very fact that it is simple. And suggestive in its wild tempo of violence, slow, ritualised killing, torture, rape, all acts of current destruction, manipulation ... [...] One of the best, most subtle Frljić’s up till now, undoubtedly. Carefully measured and precisely gauged.

Melita Forstnerič Hajnšek

Večer – V soboto

22 October 2016

Stereotyping in Frljić’s performance is the basis for multiplying the meaning, or for a completely unexpected poetry: bodies and images, an exceptionally intelligent stage design (military gasoline canisters as the wall, the cross, and naked wire that remains after them) create visual arabesques out of stereotypes, an almost unbelievable diversity of bodies, [their skin] covered with Arabic texts, lost effect of nudity due to the effect of scripture in the role of the costume. The displacing and mixing with the fates we remember from the beginning of the performance demand chronological disorder, otherwise characteristic for creating stereotypes: the birth of a national flag from the body of a woman, who later gets raped by a guy who descended from a cross, wrapped in the same national flag; constant shift between the victim and the henchman, genders, positions, dance and rhythmical execution. Among the black balloons, drops of crude oil and colourful confetti that fly all over the place when balloons burst, the almighty actor – this time the fate we recognise, but pretend we don’t understand.

It is precisely because of the stiff language of stereotypes the visual performance is filled with tenderness, fragility, poetics and human compassion. As early as the first introduction of the actors our throats choked and some women were crying, just as they used to once upon a time or somewhere far in the theatre. Everyone in the audience, at least the Ljubljana audience, knew exactly why she or he came to the theatre, looks were exchanged in understanding. Frljić with his mediating of awakening and encouraging mobilisation as a consequence of the understanding of one’s own responsibility is one more time, and in this performance perhaps the most convincingly, triggering the question of collective responsibility and blindness of European individualism in the face of the equally blind, non-individualised collective revenge. As Frljić himself lucidly observes, there is only the European and western bias, everyone else is simply impolite, exotic, mad, bloodthirsty and by definition less inclined to thinking: when Kusturica’s clones run around and yell, everybody approves [...]
I admit that this Frljić’s performance has been my favourite so far. Despair is the best in moments when it becomes poetry, and poetry can’t be surpassed as a learning tool. And above all the provocation beyond the anticipated spectacular pigsty, in which we play the ascribed role of the exotic, non-dangerous – except for the own mind and culture.

Svetlana Slapšak

MMC RTV Slovenija

21 October 2016

Yes, Europe ... The statement from the introduction rings very true, namely that Frljić is simply exotic merchandise on the theatre market. As recently as last year, when he put Balkan macht frei on the stage of the Residenztheater in Munich, Frljić was a favourite. It was cute and just subversive enough to draw the analogy between Marx’s communist spectre or the proletariat that is haunting Europe and the new “Balkanians” who, like a spectre, search for work in Europe, steal it from the vigorous natives and lower their hourly wages.

But as soon as Frljić suggests considering the legacy of colonialism and the participation of Europe in “solving” the Middle East as a origin of the birth of the new (lumpen)proletariat, everything goes south. [...] So Frljić is now disgusting; Frljić is insolent; Frljić is kitschy; Frljić is insipid ... Of course, Frljić is none of this, and when he is, he is so on purpose. But above all the key is to watch Our Violence and Your Violence as the next act in Frljić’s opus, like a sort of a new learning peace, because we can compare his mission to Brecht’s. And if some want to understand the slogan on the wall built of gasoline canisters DAS PETROLEUM STRÄUBT SICH GEGEN DIE FÜNF AKTE (The oil resists the five acts) as Frljić’s attempt to apologise and excuse his failure in forming a coherent dramaturgy, they’ve missed the point. As it happens, violence is a theme that cannot be put into five acts or any other coherent form. Just think of the rapid and chaotic change of the situation in the Middle East; can you put the tragedy of Aleppo, and the latest one in Mosul into five acts? Of course not. And actually, the question of oil is behind all this. Yes, oil can truly flow across borders; even hostile countries (usually) let it pass through their territory to their adversaries. People don’t have such luck. And yes, this is what Oliver Frljić is talking about.

Polona Balantič

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