Under the slogan of the postponed 54th Bitef, “Edge of the Future”, Philosophical Theatre will ponder the so-called new normality - how the public sphere and social relations will look like after the pandemics, will the institutions be remodelled or will they completely collapse, are we actually witnessing a new, just emerging form of totalitarianism? The discussion will also tackle the issues of new modes of xenophobia and fascism, as well as the resurgence of certain forms of tyranny and dictatorship that we have almost forgotten. And yet, it will raise the question if the post-pandemics society will lead to a complete collapse of neoliberal capitalism, the aggressive system of governance which proved to be unsustainable and which, according to Slapšak, “has never been made for people”. Is some kind of, as she states it, “serious reorganization of social relations” in store after the virus, or are we all going to let this global crisis that has shaken the very foundations of the world not teach us anything after all?
“Philosophical Theatre” is a project launched in the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb in 2014, with an intention to re-establish a close connection between philosophy and theatre. According to Srećko Horvat, the initiator of the project, “the link between philosophy and theatre has always been stronger than the link between philosophy and any other media. The most famous and most influential works by Jean-Paul Sartre are, indisputably, his plays, while Bertolt Brecht chose theatre to ponder radical politics thus creating his epic theatre.” Moreover, theatre has always been a place for active thinking about society and social processes, and Philosophical Theatre creates a space for a public discussion, which is presently more than necessary. In that respect, Horvat states: “If we come out of a theatre without being changed, then what is the point of theatre? And why going to theatre at all if we do not expect to experience something, to feel, to change our opinion, to see ourselves and get to know others”. Theatre thus becomes a meeting point of various social structures, a place where one can hear lectures by the most renowned contemporary philosophers, psychoanalysts, economists, literary authors who, all in different ways, talk about the present moment and suggest and ponder social reforms.
Svetlana Slapšak was born in Belgrade in 1948. Classical Grammar School in Belgrade. BA (1971), MA (1976), PhD (1984) at the Department for Ancient Studies, Linguistics, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade. She is one of the three editors-in-chief of the Frontisterion, the journal of the students of the Faculty of Philosophy in Belgrade, which was banned and destroyed after its first edition, in 1970. Her passport was taken away from 1968 till 1973, and then again between 1975-6, and between 1988-89. She has been interrogated, followed, and beaten up by the police and secret services. She has received university grant and an award as the best graduate at the University of Belgrade in 1971. She was employed in the Institute for Literature and Art in Belgrade (1972-1988). She was indicted in trial after having been denunciated from the institute, she lost her job after and inside self-governing trial organized in the institute but was acquitted in court (1988). She was the president of the Committee for the freedom of speech with the Literary Association of Serbia between 1986-1989, she drew up and published over fifty petitions, one of which was the demand to liberate Adem Demaçi. The member of UJDI (Association for the Yugoslav Democratic Initiative). She moved to Slovenia in 1991, obtained the citizenship in 1993 after numerous attacks and slanders in the Slovenian media. Together with her husband Božidar, the professor of archaeology at the Faculty of Philosophy in Ljubljana, she organized the petition against death penalty in 1983. They have been leading peace actions since 1986. She organized the action “Silence Kills, Let’s Speak for Peace” in Ljubljana, in November and December 1991. During the war, the two of them sheltered Bosnian and Croatian refugees, they organized a summer school for Bosnian teenage refugees (1993) which met with huge interest and got prolonged from the initially planned three weeks to four months. Upon finishing it, several participants enrolled universities in Slovenia. She was expelled from UKS (Association of Writers of Serbia) in 1996 due to, as it was stated, negative criticism of Dobrica Ćosić’s works. She made a book on children’s rights in the BHSC language as well in the Slovenian, which was distributed throughout elementary schools and refugee centres in Slovenia. The book was translated to Albanian and Romani in 2006. In the group 1000 women for peace, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
She has taught at numerous Yugoslav, European, and American universities.
She holds the tenure at the department of anthropology of ancient worlds, gender studies and Balkan studies (since 2003), she is a coordinator of studies at the ISH (Institutum Studiorum Humanitatis), Postgraduate Faculty for Humanistic Studies in Ljubljana (since 1997), the dean of the ISH (2003-2014). She was fired from the ISH when the owners sold the faculty, got retired in 2014. At the Faculty of Philosophy in Ljubljana, she taught Serbian and Croatian literature (1985-1992) at the department for Slavistics, and the Women of Balkans at the sociology of culture. The editor-in chief of the magazine ProFemina in Belgrade from 1994. The director of the Serbian Cultural Centre “Danilo Kiš” in Ljubljana (2009-2013), the artistic director of the Student Cultural Centre “Danilo Kiš” (2013-2019), the Director of the Institute for Balkan and Mediterranean Studies and Culture (IBAMESC) in Ljubljana (2009-).
Awards: “Miloš Crnjanski” for the book of essays Hronospore, 1990; American Pen Freedom of Expression Award, 1993; Helsinki Watch Award, 2000; Helen Award, Montreal, 2001: “Mirko Kovač” for the book of essays Leteći pilav, 2015; “Zlatni suncokret” for the novel Ravnoteža, 2016; the award by the women’s section of the Slovenian PEN of freedom, 2017.
She published (as the author and/or editor) more than one hundred books and collections, more than five hundred studies (linguistics, ancient studies, comparative literature, Balkan studies, gender studies), over three thousand essays, three novels, two theatre plays (can be found at www.dkis.si), several plays for Karagöz: shadow theatre, translations from Greek, ancient Greek, Latin, French, English and Slovenian. She was a columnist for Književna reč, Teleks, Vreme, Nezavisni and many other journals, as well as for the portal Peščanik. She has been a weekly contributor for the daily newspapers Večer from Maribor for twenty-two years. Latest books: Franc Kavčik in antika: pogled iz antropologije antičkih svetov, Narodna galerija, Ljubljana, 2011; Mikra theatrika: antropološki pogled na antično in sodobno gledališče, Knjižnica Mestnega gledališča ljubljanskega, zv. 156, Ljubljana, 2012; Zelje in spolnost: iz zgodovinske antropologije hrane, Beletrina, Ljubljana, 2013; Antička miturgija: žene, XX vek, Beograd, 2013; Leteći pilav: antropološki eseji o hrani, XX vek, Beograd, 2014; Kuhinja z razgledom, Goga, Novo Mesto, 2016; Kupusara, XX vek, Beograd, 2016; Preživeti i uživati: o antropologiji hrane - eseji i recepti, SPKD, Prosvjeta, Sarajevo, 2016; Ravnoteža (novel), Laguna, Belgrade, 2016; libretto for the chamber opera Julka i Janez, Opera SNG Ljubljana, premiered on 19th January 2017; Antička miturgija, Beletrina, Ljubljana, 2017; Muške ikone antičkog sveta, XX vek, Belgrade, 2018; Rod i Balkan (with Marina Matešić), Durieux, Zagreb, 2018; Škola za delikatne ljubavnike (novel), Laguna, Belgrade, 2018: Istomesečniki (Slovenian translation of the novel Ravnoteža), Goga, Novo Mesto, 2018; Leon i Leonina (translation), Vermilion, Skopje, 2018; Mikra theatrika II: antropološki pogled na antično in sodobno gledališče, MGL, Ljubljana, 2018; Volna in telo: študija iz zgodovinske antropologije, Beletrina, Ljubljana, 2019.
Since her retirement, she has been writing studies, essays, stories, plays, novels, travel journals, librettos, she has been doing dramaturgy, translations, as well as writing books in humanistic studies, individually or together with her best former students who hold PhD in humanistic studies. Every year, she holds cycles of lectures in Cankarjev Dom in Ljubljana.
Maja Pelević was born in 1981. She graduated from the Faculty of Drama Arts in Belgrade, department of Dramaturgy and received a PhD degree in Theory of Arts and Media at the University of Arts in Belgrade. Her plays have been translated into numerous languages and staged in Serbia and abroad. Since 2012, she has been directing and producing auteur projects. Together with Milan Marković, she made the performance Oni žive (They Live), when they became members of seven political parties, and in 2016, with Olga Dimitrijević, she made the performance Sloboda je najskuplja kapitalistička reč (Freedom: the Most Expensive Capitalist Word), inspired by their journey to North Korea, while in June 2020, she made Lonely Planet (a Tourist Guide through dis(u)topia) with a group of authors. She has won many relevant prizes, among which “Borislav Mihajlović Mihiz” for the achievement in playwriting in 2006, and Sterija Award for the best contemporary play Pomorandžina kora (Orange Peel), at Sterijino Pozorje Festival in 2010.
Together with Srećko Horvat, she has launched Philosophical Theatre in Belgrade.