Vedrana Klepica

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Artist statement

For the last couple of years I have been working as a writer, dramaturg and most importantly, but more rarely as a theatre director. And this is why I found this call to be something that I would benefit immensely from. I have started my career as a writer, and wrote several plays that have been produced in Croatia, Serbia, Germany, Luxembourg, Great Britain, Argentina, Australia, and had staged readings on various international festivals, which I present in more detail in the attachment for the application.

But I have always emphasised that though I was first a writer I was more importantly a THEATRE PRACTITIONER, and I consider these two to be inseparable from one another in my work. I write with not stories, but THEATRE MECHANISM in my mind. And the methods I employ while writing or working in theatre are always deeply connected to the topic I am working on. If I had to say what most of my work is centred around, it would be the topics of class, privilege, ecology and patriarchy, something which resonates very deeply and intimately with me.

I grew up in a tiny industrial town in southeast Croatia, in a family that had as much to do with art as they did with nuclear physics, that is – nothing at all. My father, after the ex-YU war ended, worked long hours as an electrician in a local factory, and my mother meandered between working at a local coffee shop and a pizzeria before finally landing a job at the accounting office at the local department store, and after finishing their work they showed little interest for anything else, since they were mostly to too exhausted, but also, because their class context – they were devoid of a certain kind of knowledge, and thus, the passion to enjoy ‘high art’. Our ‘bookshelf’ had exactly two books, both ‘repair it yourself’ manuals. They also didn’t go to the theatre, mostly because there was no theatre in our town to go to. Today they come to my shows, and they are proud to see them, but I always feel a deep disconnection between them and the work they saw. It is in that feeling of dissidence that I draw my passion for my work – what is that dissidence?? What are we producing and for who? How to be authentic to your own personal aesthetic but still make theatre an important and integral part of a community that in recent years has grown increasingly isolated, converging mostly to social media and Netflix. Theatre is art. But more importantly theatre is also democracy. It is a place people gather to paint a more clear place of belonging in a society that is increasingly dictated by class, ambition and power. It is a democracy I think I have a right to participate, although my background was not one to cater to such a career.

Aesthetically speaking I try to build eclectic visual and performative worlds in which the problems I have outlined become almost archetypal. In my show ‘Prairie Oysters’ I examine the relation of totalitarianism and patriarchy, through characters of women living in a dystopian village full of absurd, cruel sets of rules that become impossible to follow. I worked long before the first day of rehearsal with my multimedia team. And only later, after a specifica character building workshop done with actors, introduced the actual play to them. My show ‘Keinberg’ on the other hand deals with the moral and economic collapse of a small industrial community in an unnamed place in Europe. The performance explores the recurring principles of late capitalism, in which the very systems underlying the construction of any given economic community, through insufficient control, become the reasons for its disintegration. I am very inspired by the work of artists like Thom Luz, The Needcompany or Anne-Cecile Vandalem.I try to put a strong emphasis on my audio and visual collaborators, to create elaborate soundscapes, and video imagery, that are equal partners to the performers on the stage.

Since I am based in Zagreb, Croatia, and I do most of my work here, socio – political development has a crucial impact on my work. And I mean that in a sense that it inspires the work I do, but also affects it practically – production wise. Croatia is not a wealthy country and politics are always flirting dangerously with the political extreme – right. Croatia government is a right wing party with a conservative views on the culture which impacts radically independent media, and art collaborations, especially art that is critical to the system, making it harder for artist to work (especially independent ones like me). I do believe in political activism, and in the power of the voter. But just elections don’t change society. Education, hard grassroots work, culture and dialogue does. I find my art to be a part of that dialogue, however sometimes it is hard to establish it – even, literally, in the practical sense. And this is ways the opportunity to be able to work in this type of production would truly elevate my work to a new level.

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