KOSOVO THEATRE REVIEWS
Reviewed by Bora Shpuza
“History is hysteria, she is hungry, and her food is all of us”
Husino’s Miner is a mixed-media and multimedia production that marries visuals, sound, and lights around a striking figure created by the contemporary artist Marc Einsiedel. A lot was poured into this 25-minute sensory experience based on events that occurred over a century ago.
The statue of the fighter readying himself for battle stands center stage. In a victorious gesture, he is holding up a rifle in his right hand. He is wearing a miner’s helmet, and a closer look at his left hand reveals he is also holding a pick.
Wrapped in pieces of broken mirror, the figure lights up the place. Like a disco ball, he scatters sparkles all over the theatre, as he sits on a rotating pedestal amid a cloud of flickering silver. Akin to Sufi whirling, the figure's movements are reminiscent of a dancing dervish trying to achieve dharma. In tandem with the visuals, the music is also reminiscent of 1980-es disco era when glitter and shine were en vogue.
The performance certainly added a special touch to the Kosovo Theatre Showcase, the annual cultural event, which brings together theatre producers, writers and critics from all over the world, and which was organized to perfection by Qendra Multimedia, with exciting opportunities for local productions and international guest plays, as well as for theatre people to connect and network. Husino’s Miner stood out, between the plays and panel discussions which took place throughout the week.
As the figure moved in a constant circular motion on its rotating pedestal, there came a ‘boom!’ and a thunderous voice begins to tell a tale over 100 years old. The actor Dražen Pavlović narrates the remarkable story of how the miners of Husino, a village near Tuzla in Bosnia and Herzegovina, went on strike and fought for their rights in the 1920s. How they rebelled bravely and selflessly against industrial tyranny and miserable working conditions. How the village and its people were almost completely destroyed by the troops sent to crush the rebellion. The narration in Bosnian brings a down-to-earth and intimate quality to the performance.
The artist who created this piece, Tuzla native Branko Šimić, makes brilliant use of mixed art techniques that serve multiple purposes. The rotating contraption is symbolic of the survivor spirit of Husino under the ever-watching eyes of the miner. He is trying to figure out where and when he belongs, having witnessed the battles of old, the transitions, and the challenges of new.
The broken glass projects the deconstruction of value systems in the past and present, and possibly a splintered warning of future uncertainty. There is a clear post-modern take on the constant flow of life across the human stories that happened around him. The dynamic visuals and quasi-metallic sound of music and narration bring a silvery quality to everything in my head.
The voice continues, profound and powerful, reverberating around the theatre walls. The miner is nostalgic over “good old times”, when everything happened around him: public events, workers’ gatherings, secret kisses of youth. Reflecting on the passage of time, he laments “those who have long perished and died, but also today’s residents of Husino”, drawing a parallel between the joint predicament of past and present.
Though static, he has witnessed transition, immigration, and political tumult. He is puzzled at the unsteady nature of work in modern times, seeing as the former socialist factory buildings around him have been transformed into capitalist business centres. Above all, he wonders about the shift in values and the post-modernist morality of the human soul, due to the fast-paced dynamics of everything and everyone around him. He calls them all “part of my organism”, like the broken mirrors on his body which have been stitched back together to represent shattered reality.
The miner is the hero fallen in battle and reborn, and it becomes clear that everything that happened over the years has been mirrored onto him and back – a literal and metaphorical tool for reflection.
The discourse turns philosophical, as we are told “history is hysteria and she is hungry, she needs food and her food is all of us”. A dazzling realization and an arresting statement. Meanwhile, the unassuming 1980s disco music has been replaced by a dramatic soundtrack with contemporary vibes credited to renowned Bosnian musician Mirza Rahmanović-Indigo, a multi-disciplinary artist and composer. The tune now follows the perpetual circles of the miner’s statue, and sounds continue to dance around him like silver fireflies, almost playful. It appears as if this creature’s journey is a perpetuum mobile of sorts, a stagnant view of the world literally set in monolithic stone. Nevertheless, the evolution of this unusual character is unexpected. Despite all the unanswered questions, he saves the best for last – optimism springs forth along with the realization that he is part of today, hence part of change.
Towards the end, the voice of Dražen Pavlović returned with new elan inviting the audience to come take a selfie with the statue. “Take a photo with me and save it for 100 years. See you in 2122!” the voice roared, as audience members prepared to climb the stage. My photo is on the cloud, and that cloud has a silver lining.
Produced by: JU Muzej Istocne Bosne (Bosnia and Herzegovina) & Krass Kultur Crash
Festival Hamburg & Kampnagel Hamburg (Germany) / Duration: 25 min
Author: Branko Šimić // Statue making: Marc Einsiedel // Music: Mirza Rahmanović-Indigo // Actor: Dražen Pavlović // Assistant author: Alen Šimic // Producer: Ljubiša Veljković // Marketing: Darko Marković // Technical realisation: Dalibor Brkić // Photo and video: Mario Ilić & Mario Stjepić