Balkan Plots


This collection features four new plays about war, tyranny and discrimination by Eastern and Central European writers. Includes the plays The Body of a Woman as a battlefield in the Bosnian war by Matei Visniec, Cordon by Nebojsa Romcevic, When I want to whistle, I whistle… by Andreea Vălean, Soap Opera by György Spiró


Balkan Plots: Plays From Central And Eastern Europe

Introduced by Gina Landor


This unique collection features four new plays about war, tyranny and discrimination by Eastern and Central European writers. Includes the plays The Body of a Woman as a battlefield in the Bosnian war by Matei Visniec, Cordon by Nebojsa Romcevic, When I want to whistle, I whistle… by Andreea Vălean, Soap Opera by György Spiró

The title of this volume alludes to the history of political double-dealing in a troubled region within southern Europe, surrounded by the Adriatic, Aegean and Black Seas. G.B. Shaw wrote Arms and The Man about a small Balkan plot in the 19th century. It’s in this tradition, rather than in a geographical sense that we use the title Balkan Plots. The plays in this volume are dramatic works which have emerged from, or which take as their subject matter, the struggle of individuals within societies affected by recent political upheaval. The writers explore aspects of freedom and rebellion, ethnicity and discrimination, loyalty and betrayal in situations where conventional attitudes and beliefs are severely tested. In some plays, the conflict is between traditional socialist attitudes and western capitalism. In others, the values and beliefs of the younger generation collide with and challenge those of the older generation. Within each of the plays, the way in which the personal and the political interacts, is very much in evidence.


The Plays

The Body of a Woman as a Battlefield in the Bosnian War by Matei Visniec, translated by Alison Sinclair: Two women meet in the aftermath of the Bosnian War. Both are struggling to find release from their inner battlefields.

“Incontestably one of the best, the most powerful plays of the Avignon Festival.” La Gazette Provencale

Cordon by Nebojsa Romcevic, translated by Sladjana Vujovic: A group of Special Police in Belgrade incite a riot at a peaceful protest, maliciously beating a student. A harsh indictment of the brutality and corruption of the Milosevic regime. Banned throughout Yugoslavia. The film adaptation won the 2003 Montreal Film Festival.

When I Want to Whistle, I Whistle… by Andreea Vălean, translated by Cheryl Robson and Claudiu Trandafir: A female student visits a youth Detention Centre for a research project. Her interviewing of three young offenders has disastrous consequences for all involved.

Soap Opera by György Spiró, translated by Andrew Bock: A salesman wants to sign a woman up for a Jewish reparations scheme. The play raises questions about Western methods of compensation for war crimes.


About the authors

Matei Visniec born in 1956 in Romania, now settled in Paris, working as a journalist at Radio France International. In Romania, he studied history and philosophy, before writing for the theatre in 1977. During the following 10 years, he wrote some 20 plays, but all of them were banned by the Romanian censors. In 1987 he was invited to France by a literary foundation and he asked for political asylum. Since then, he has been writing mostly in French and he has received French nationality. After the fall of communism in Romania in December 1989, Visniec became the most performed playwright in the country, with more than 20 plays staged in Bucharest and other towns. In October 1996, the National Theatre of Timisoara, organised a Visniec Festival with 12 companies presenting his plays. His international audience as a playwright started in 1992 with the play Horses at the Windows, performed in France and Clown Wanted at the Bonner Biennale in Germany. Since then, more than 10 of his plays have been performed in France: Théâtre Guichet Montparn-asse, Studio des Champs-Elysées, Théâtre du Rond-Point de Champs Elysées- Paris, Théâtre de l’Utopie- La Rochelle, Compagnie Pli Urgent -Lyon and Théâtre le Jodel -Avignon, Théâtre de Lenche and Théâtre de la Minoterie – Marseille, Compagnie Nice- Théâtre Vivant-Nice etc. 1999 Drama Award of the Romanian Union of Writers, 1998 Drama Award of the Academy of Romania, 1995 and 1996 Award Avignon-off at the Avignon Theatre Festival. 1994 Award of the S.A.C.D. for The story of pandas… 1991 Award for Clown Wanted, best play of the year in Romania.

His plays include: Clown Wanted, Decomposed Theatre, The Spectator sentenced to death, Pockets full of Bread, The story of pandas, told by a saxophonist with a girlfriend in Frankfurt, Three Nights with Madox , The Last Godot, Horses at the Window, How To Explain The History of Communism To Mental Patients.

Nebojsa Romcevic born 1962, Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Graduated 1988 from the Theatre Academy in Belgrade, Department of Dramaturgy. Achieved his Masters and PhD in Modern Drama Theory. Since 1988, he has taught History and the Theory of Drama at the Theatre Academy in Belgrade. 1989-1990 Artistic Director of Terazije Theater, Belgrade. 1997-1999 Director of the Drama Department of the National Theatre in Belgrade. Writes for Theatre and Television (until he was banned on state television). During his career, his work has won all the major prizes for Playwriting and Screenwriting in Yugoslavia. Most of his plays have been translated into German, English, Polish, Slovakian and Bulgarian.
Forces in the air, a sentimental comedy
Winter Castle, a black comedy
Tired Ones, a comedy
Light play, a farce
Living in Cemetery Street, a black comedy
Terra Incognita, a farce
Karolina Neuber, a drama
Prince, an interactive spectacle for teenagers
Guilt a drama
Cordon a drama, later adapted as a film.
Winner of Montreal Film Festival 2003.

Andreea Vălean born in 1972. She has worked as a social worker in an orphanage and as an Account Executive for Saatchi and Saatchi. She has a Masters Degree in Sociology from Bucharest University and is currently studying directing in Theatre and Film. Her second play How I spent the End of The World was performed at the International Festival in Sibiu and later published in Romanian and English. She is under commission to write a screenplay, after winning a competition organised by the National Office of Cinema. She adapted and directed Emigrants by Slavomir Mrozek at the Casandra Theatre Bucharest and for the ALTFEST in Bistrita and was the director of Poetry Performance at the Cotroceni Palace in 1998. She also represented Romania at the European Playwrights Festival in Berlin in 1998 and has taken part in the Royal Court, London International Writers’ Programme.

György Spiró born 1946 Budapest, Hungary. Studied Russian, Serbo-Croat and Hungarian Literature at Budapest University (ELTE). Gained fellow-ships in the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Poland, and Czechoslovakia. 1970-71 Journalist for Hungarian Radio.
1971-76 Editor in Corvina Publishing House.
1978 until today Lecturer at Budapest University (ELTE) and from 1989-1998 at the Budapest Academy for Theatre and Film.
1976-1980 Dramaturg at the Hungarian National Theatre.
1981-1991 Dramaturg at the Csiky Gergely Theatre in Kaposvár.
1992-1995 Artistic Director of the Szigligeti Theatre in Szolnok.
1984, 1998 Visiting Scholar at Columbia University, New York.

Some thirty of them, including: Az Imposztor (The Impostor,1982), also in English, French, Polish. Csirkefej (Chickenhead, 1985), translated into 11 languages. A kert (The Garden,1984), also in Czech, Slovak, Estonian, English. Dobardan (1994), also in English, Polish. Vircsaft (1996) also in Italian.

Kerengő (The Cloister) 1974, 1995,  Az Ikszek (The X-es)1981, 1983, 1994 , A Jövevény (The Comling) 1990 and many short stories, essays and translations.

József Attila Prize 1982, Erzsébet Prize 1990, Déry Prize 1993, Madách Prize 1994, Ernő Szép Prize 1997, Best Play of the Season 1983, 1987, 1998, First Prize for the play “Honte de Rue” in Budapest Drama Concours 1998, Laurel Wreath of the Hungarian Republic 1998.

Member of the Hungarian PEN. He lives in Budapest and has two children.




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