For Will You Ever Be Happy Again? Sanja Mitrovic got the prestigious BNG Prize for the best young director 2010 (BNG Nieuwe Theatermakers Prijs) given by Theatre Instittut Nederland
Will You Ever Be Happy Again? is a docu-tale for one Serbian, one German performer and two cartoon boxes (in Serbian and German, with subtitles)
“Are we ever going to be happy again?,” the German population asked themselves at the end of the Second World War. A significant part of the Serbian population is facing the same question in the wake of the new millennium. The Germans called that moment “hour zero”, to symbolize their desire for a fresh start. But this appeared to be an illusion, because one can’t escape one’s own history; one can only hope to survive it.
Will You Ever Be Happy Again? is a piece for one Serbian and one German performer. Developed around authentic autobiographical accounts of its performers, Will You Ever Be Happy Again? employs documentary strategies to explore how nationality influences one’s personal identity. This issue has been acutely pertinent to both Serbia and Germany, which, at different points in their national histories, have been perceived in negative terms within the international community.
Will You Ever Be Happy Again? is structured as a succession of performative situations, based, amongst others, on childhood games, primary school classes and sporting events. The performers’ personal and collective memories outline the narratives of good vs. bad, of victim vs. criminal, and how these distinctions can easily be turned upside down. The German performer relates his family memories, the period after the Second World War and the Cold War era. The Serbian performer reflects on her childhood in the 1980s, the ethnic conflicts and disintegration of Former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, and the recent experience of becoming a Dutch citizen. Counter–pointing and mirroring each other’s cultural and historical backgrounds, they attempt to approach the problem of self–representation, the way one looks at the other, and the urge to see oneself through the eyes of another.
Will You Ever Be Happy Again? is poised between documentary material and its theatrical interpretation. Shifting from a straightforward address to allusion to quotation, and relying on an oblique exploitation of historical images and poetic expressions, the work swings from research to a ritual game that creates imaginary parallels between the two countries, repeating History just like History always seems to repeat itself.
Will You Ever Be Happy Again? is based on autobiographical accounts of its performers. The first version with the performer Jochen Stechmann premiered in 2008 and toured internationally. In its new iteration from 2011 it has been adapted and performed with Katja Dreyer.
The result is an intelligent, expressive and artistically unique analysis of the phenomenon of nationalism which transcends the individual experience. Theaterspektakel Festival, 2009.
Concept&idea/direction: Sanja Mitrovic. Performers new version: Sanja Mitrovic, Katja Dreyer. Performers old version: Sanja Mitrovic, Jochen Stechmann. Dramaturgy: Felix Ritter. Artistic advisor: Vladimir Tupanjac. Sound design: Vladimir Rakic. Light design: Erik Gramberg. Costume design: Dejan Dosljak. Stills photography: Srdjan Veljovic. Text new version: Sanja Mitrovic, Katya Dreyer. Text old version: Sanja Mitrovic, Jochen Stechmann
Co-produced by: Centar za kulturnu dekontaminaciju, Belgrade, Het Veem, Amsterdam, Stand Up Tall Productions, Amsterdam. Supported by: BITEF festival Belgrade & Pact Zollverein, Essen
Performance WILL YOU EVER BE HAPPY AGAIN? was produced as a part of the long-term project COMMUNITY OF MEMORY realized by Center for Cultural Decontamination and supported by Erste Foundation, Ministry of Culture Republic of Serbia, Belgrade City Council – Department for Culture. German Embassy and Swiss Embassy in Belgrade.
Many thanks to: Das Arts, Amsterdam & Shady Lane Productions, Glasgow
Umetnost nije dekoracija (link)Interview with Sanja Mitrovic by Tanja Matic, e-novine (in serbian), 22.06.2009
Schwarz- weise Kinderwelt (jpeg)Annette Strohm, Leipziger Volkszeitung (in german), 06.11.2009
Telemaco na Jugoslavia (pdf), ****Publico (in portugese), 23.05.2011
With “Will You Ever Be Happy Again?” Serbian-Dutch Sanja Mitrovic produced an autobiographical show in which she combines theatre, performance, dance and visual art. The story with autobiographical elements examines how nationality effects one’s personal identity. This is touching and highly engaging, fascinating performance, presented in a beautiful, simple form.
From jury statement (pdf)BNG Nieuwe Theatermakers Prijs (New Theatre Director Prize) September 2011 (in english), 01.09.2011
Serbian-Dutch performer, actress and an author of increasingly prominent reputation in Europe theatre circles, Sanja Mitrovic, directs an intimate and deeply personal story that concerns all of us who grew up in Former Yugoslavia, and who can still remember the country that once existed (…) The performance is structured through an inspired mix of emotions and humor, with which we often don’t know what to do(…) For the story is so truly simple and interwoven with such facility and skill, the viewer can hardly decide between laughing and crying. That is why only silence remains at the end. But luckily, Sanja Mitrovic is sufficiently skillful to offer the audience vast pleasure and joy of life through positive vibration her directorial stamp bears, which was proven at numerous festivals across Europe where she performed this fantastic play.Nikola Zavisic, Selector’s statement 55. Sterijino Pozorje Festival, International selection, May/June 2010, 30.05.2010