“What’s Hecuba to us today?”, 2002

The Selector’s Voice

After last year’s Festival, which had successfully explored contemporary plays with the aim of presenting to its audiences works that are (or attempt at being) important in the Europe and Croatia of today, I thought it might be interesting to turn to contemporary theatrical performances based on completely different textual sources being played both at home and throughout the world. In spite of the frequent prejudice (not entirely unfounded in our theatres) that dealing with classical plays implies theatrical antiquity, trends in contemporary theatre prove otherwise. During the last few years, while visiting leading European and world theatre festivals, or even when superficially surfing the Internet in order to read the repertoires of renowned world theatres – be they national theatres or alternative groups, I have discovered an unexpectedly large number of classical plays being put on stage. These include authors that lived a couple of centuries ago as well as those belonging to the first half of the 20th century that can (and are) today undoubtedly considered as classics. At the same time, the vitality of those shows, their modernity and the attraction they evidently have for both contemporary theatregoers and theatre professionals, have once again incited the question: “What’s Hecuba to us today?” It is precisely following such guidelines that this year’s selection for The Ninth International Small Scene Theatre Festival has been made.

Not without reason perplexed, Hamlet, concerned for the actor, asks himself: “What’s Hecuba to him or he to Hecuba that he should weep for her?” All those emotions, all those tears, the trembling voice – for nothing. For Hecuba. An ancient myth.

What are Euripides, Seneca, Milton, Chekhov, and even Genet and Müller, to us today? Even Krleža, for some time now, “lives” as anything but a contemporary playwright.
All these dramatists, and many others, are obviously an incentive for our saying something about ourselves; they make us stop and think and search for answers to the numerous questions they had asked once themselves and their contemporaries. They help us create theatre language relevant to our own present.

Last year, with ardour and enthusiasm, we followed the paths of theatres inspired by the lively genre of the latest, most contemporary plays. This year, let us watch, equally intrigued, how the echo from the deep well of classic heritage reaches us and our lives and what it has to tell us. Comparisons can be useful in contemplating the theatre of today, especially when one searches for answers to questions such as: “What is contemporary theatre and which are the ways to reach it?” At the same time, by re-examining that which is old and supposedly universally known in a completely new manner, we can learn about the past just as much as about the present.

Let’s leave the future to prophets. The theatre is always here and now, living during the moment it is happening.

For us, the moment is The Ninth International Small Scene Theater Festival in Rijeka.
Darko Lukić