4. Belgrade, 2005

From Svetlana Dimcovic’s evaluation:

As a native of the city, we asked fence participant Svetlana Dimcovic to give us her evaluation of this meeting:

Evaluation of the Fourth Meeting (in Belgrade), in a post-conflict and post-sanctions country, as opposed to the relative stability of countries and contexts in which the first three meetings of the Fence were held, poses several questions concerning legacy and working method exchange, as well as factors contributing to the development of Fence processes and methods during face-to-face meetings.

In the planning stages of the Belgrade meeting of the Fence, a visit to the Theatre Academy training playwrights, directors and actors, was suggested to our hosts from London as a means of understanding the causes of gaps of provision in terms of opportunities available to playwrights, and the position of our hosts and their work within the landscape.

While the official Academy markets itself as the elite institution of talent-nurture, it also employs a rigid teaching structure and discourages any form of student drama or staging of its’ students’ plays within the University programme of work. As such, it relies on the professional theatre to absorb its’ writers into the mainstream upon graduation and views the Academy as a learning and not ‘doing’ stage in a writer’s development.

The NADA Project could thus be seen as a direct result in this cause-and-effect chain in the training and employment of emerging playwrights.

However, while the NADA project does provide additional opportunities ( including engaging international partners like the Fence and thus furthering employment possibilities), it is only one of many activities and companies within the Belgrade landscape.

- Legacy of having met in Belgrade for the Fence

1. This meant a broadening of horizons for Fence members and learning what the Fence can do when faced with a new landscape, or new problems the members are facing in their own countries (NADA project position within the landscape).

2. Fence members encountered a complex, post-conflict landscape and engaged with the question of how new writing fits in (socially and in agendas of art and government) - an important topic as the network grows and meets in very different contexts

3. The Fence members learnt from meeting Serbian playwrights and hearing their experiences, as well as seeing local productions of new plays by young authors, and the circumstances surrounding these

4. The Fence network learnt from meeting students and professors at the Theatre Academy and seeing the cause of problems in the landscape – rigid teaching methods, very little support for student drama groups, elitism of students at the official and oldest academy, as opposed to some of the newer, private ones

In terms of planning and executing meetings, the host country may gain management and evaluation processes not present before, after an intensive international meeting and exchange such as a Fence meeting.

Local playwrights reflected on their position in their landscape, articulated these thoughts through the framework of Fence discussions ( both formal and informal) and engaged with the shared network terminology of the Fence, open to thinking around the subject of the playwright’s status.

Fence playwrights and cultural operators reflected on the situations in their own countries, their views of what they saw of the landscape in Belgrade, and how the Fence can help or enable individual playwrights – actually, or from a distance.

Yugoslav Drama Theatre (where I Milos Krekovic moved to) included 'One Bed Flat' by Ze-Maria Mendes in the 06/07 production plan just couple of weeks after we had returned from Leeds. Initially it was scheduled to open around Christmas, and we started some preparations in July, including a Serbian version being commissioned and done by a very good translator, and with director

Ana Tomovic and playwright/dramaturge Filip Vujosevic assigned to the project. However, the YDT's Board decided in September to make some changes in the plan and the play (along with few other projects) has been dropped from this season's repertoire, with the production postponed (hopefully) for the next artistic year. A bit of disappointment obviously, but we'll keep pushing!