What’s the best way to commence the opening ceremony of an ingenious, feminist and artistic festival?
Why, invite everyone to a gripping and fascinating performance that will keep you moving in almost two
hours! – That’s right, moving! This performance isn’t the same as any performance, it’s the Trojan
Women of course – coming straight to you by La MaMa and Artpolis. Keep reading to understand how
this performance completely changed the game at the opening ceremony of none other than the best
festival in Kosova (and I say this without hesitation) – FemArt.
A few notable words on FemArt
As mentioned before, FemArt is a festival which aims to ignite a desire for change in society, as well as
social and cultural awareness for issues related to feminism, equality and peace. They do this by hosting
a series of event (this year there are 40 activities in Prishtina, North Mitrovica and Ferizaj) which
promote the work of artists from around the world. You can expect a variety of creative work at this
festival, such as Theater, Film, Documentary Films, Short Films, Exhibition, Performance, Concerts,
Lectures, Workshops, Panel Discussions and Presentations on various art forms. This year’s motto is
“Run the Show”, and it’s hella empowering.
So go to www.femart-ks.com to get the full agenda and prepare to be inspired!
Art, sound, movement
The hosting venue for FemArt’s opening ceremony was the National Library of Kosova. The large steps
circulating the whole library provided quite a stage for the actors and actresses performing “The Trojan
Women”. The show began outside the entrance of the library, and continued in motion all around it.
The audience was guided through the FemArt volunteers, staff and even in some cases by the actors and
actresses themselves. It was sometimes difficult to move since there were so many people and everyone
wanted to know what was going on, but this difficulty was quickly overruled by the exciting
performances exploding all around you. So not only was the audience following the performance, other
parts of the performance started sprouting behind the audience, and even left and right! You were
completely mesmerized by the actors and actresses in front of you, and in an instant you heard the
drums or voices of other actors and actresses coming from your left. They moved through the audience
in various directions until coming to the center. The audience was just waiting for what was going to
happen next! After circulating the national library, the whole audience was seated either on the floor or
on a few chairs, awaiting the end of the performance. I talked to one of the actors in “The Trojan
Women”, Skender Podvorica, and he said that the audience was meant to be active, not passive. Since
there were different stories being told in every corner of the National Library, he said that “the audience
was supposed to feel the same emotions as the actors did, and we made sure that the audience
experienced each and every one of these stories.”
Besides the thrilling movements of artists, the words they spoke and sang were also a HUGE part of the
play. You didn’t understand what the words meant, since they were in several ancient languages such as
Navajo, Ancient Greek, and Aztec. However, this only drifted your focus to the gestures and movement
of the artists. This way you understood what was going on and the language barrier faded almost
completely. Since the story of The Trojan Women is over 2,500 years old, it was only fair to use ancient
language to tell it. Just imagine the strength and dedication of the actors and actresses! Learning a
combination of ancient languages and performing them without ANY difficulty for close to two hours!
The language used in “The Trojan Women” was either articulated in different intonations and sounds or
sung. Drums were used to set the mood in various acts, and these drums were part of Kosova’s culture –
the “Tarabuka” (Goblet drum) and the “Tupan” (a Davul).
What really makes this performance send chills up your spine, are the various issues being addressed,
such as war, displacement, violence against women and children, genocide and more. These issues are
prominent in today’s societies as well, and it’s these emotions of fear, sadness, pain and suffering that
make us come together. One of the most heartbreaking moments during the play are when a child is
taken from his mother, and his mother is continuously trying to grab his hand and keep him close. When
the child is finally taken, the mother commits suicide. You saw the mother jumping, with the lights
cutting off at the moment she falls, signaling a loss of life. The lights followed the play in every corner,
signaling a start and end. Where the lights lit up, you knew that something was going to happen. When
they dimmed, you knew that that particular story was over and a new one was beginning somewhere
further, you just had to follow.
The performance kept you gripped at all times. You couldn’t take your eyes away for even a second for
fear of missing even the slightest movement. It was a performance which tackled issues in a different
form than commonly known. That’s why “The Trojan Women” was the perfect way to launch the
opening ceremony of FemArt.
You can read more about the “The Trojan Women” here: http://lamama.org/the-trojan-women-project/
Written by Vesa Prapashtica