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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 57 | volume X | November-December, 2007



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                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 57November-December, 2007
Essays

Darkness as National Drama

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p. 1
Jelena Lužina

The renowned drama by Kole Čašule – organized in a fairly non-standard quadraphonic/four section form (in four parts, and not, as would have been customary, in four acts), entitled with quite the stigmatic and adequately connotative syntagm Darkness – is undoubtedly one of the key Macedonian dramas, and at the same time a drama that is laconically (“by automatism”) attributed with being a “national classic”, whatever this quite undetermined/undeterminable formulation means. The text that follows aims to study the potential meanings of this formulation, trying to argument them or raise them as problems with the help of exact and absolutely confirmable facts.

First, the apparently formal facts:

Written between 1956 and 1960, the drama was first published in parts or in fragments in the daily newspaper Nova Makedonija (1960) and in the magazine Razgledi (1960/61). Only later – when the whole text was published, meaning “checked” by the author – did its first performance take place, staged in the Macedonian Peoples Theatre (Makedonski naroden teatar) in Skopje, the then central (most prestigious/most representative/most influential…) theatre in the state, national in its nominal (onomastic), but also in its cultural/ideological importance. Directed by Ilija Milčin, the premiere took place on January 26, 1961, with the participation of the best actors that the ensemble had at that time: Peter Prličko as Fezliev, Ilija Džuvalekovski as Lukov, Vukan Dinevski as Ivan, Todorka Kondova-Zafirovska as Neda, Aco Jovanovski as the Youngster… The post-premiere success was decent (as befits a small environment) but also – evident[1]. Only after the acknowledgements that this drama received outside Macedonia did its “value” in the domestic context “rise”.
    In the course of the past 45 years, there have been as many as 26 new productions of Darkness (14 in Macedonia and 12 abroad), and it has thus become one of the five or six most frequently staged Macedonian plays in general.[2] In the last two years, this drama has seen two exceptionally successful and apparently exceptional radical stageings, by the directors Dejan Projkovski (2004 in the Štip National Theatre) and Slobodan Unkovski (2005, in the Macedonian National Theatre in Skopje).
    Incidentally, Darkness was the first Macedonian drama to gain awards at some of the respected and influential festivals held at the time in the former common state (Sterijno pozorje, 1961: the Special Sterija Award for a Dramatic Text, awarded to the author; the Sterija Award for Acting, awarded to Petre Prličko) and first to

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1. It is interesting to compare the critical accounts written and published immediately after the premiere, with those published after the first serious acknowledgements and awards that occurred after few months; the Macedonian theater critics seemed to be still “discovering” the meta-textual implications that the dramatic score entangles, recognizing their relevance.
2. If we “exempt” the highly rated and absolutely non-standard theater destiny of Powder Cage, by Dejan Dukovski (premiere 1995) – a play with only one production in Macedonia, but with around thirty abroad – the domestic theatre public has shown the most interest in drama of a stressed national type: The Eloped by Vasil Iljoski (since 1928, 24 productions to date), Master Teodos by the same author (since 1936, 23 productions to date), Migrant Workers by Anton Panov (since 1936, 23 stagings to date – 21 in Macedonia and 2 abroad) and Macedonian Blood Wedding by Vojdan Černodrinski (14 productions in Macedonia and 1 in Sofia – the legendary premiere in 1900, that was afterwards repeated several times, directed by the author himself).






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