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Serbian Playwright Biljana Srbljanović’s LOCUSTS

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Oct 12, 2010
Oct 12, 2010
Segal Theater
Biljana Srbljanović Photo by Ivan Sijak

Biljana Srbljanović
Photo by Ivan Sijak

In collaboration with the Romanian Cultural Institute, the Segal Center presents an encounter with one of the Balkans’ strongest contemporary intellectual and artistic voices, the Serbian playwright Biljana Srbljanović. Ana Mărgineanu will direct a staged reading of Srbljanović’s most recent play, LOCUSTS, a dark farce that pits multiple generations of petty, vicious, and unremarkable people against each other. This event is part of “FAQ Serbia,” a EUNIC project initiated by the Austrian Cultural Forum in NYC and other partners, which aims to both clarify and complicate our understanding of the universality of the social and individual experience of the “Serbian case.”

Biljana Srbljanović was born in 1970 in Belgrade. She graduated from the Belgrade’s Academy of Dramatic Arts, where she now teaches. She has published nine plays and many essays, editorials and articles in the international press (Le Monde, La Repubblica, Der Standard, Der Spiegel, B92, Pescanik, etc). Her plays have been translated into 25 languages, and performed in over 150 theaters all over the world. Among other awards, Srbljanović won the Serbian Sterija Award for a new play five times, the Erns Toller prize (1999) and the Freedom Prize (2003)—both for her engagement between arts and politics—and, in 2007, she won the most prestigious European theatre Award, the Europe Prize for New Theatrical Realities. She is a human rights and animal rights activist and was a candidate for a Mayor of Belgrade in the 2008 municipal elections. She was a Fulbright Fellow professor at Belgrade’s University, a visiting professor at NYU Tisch School of the Arts in New York City and at Scuola Dramatica Paolo Grassi in Milan, and has conducted many workshops, master classes in playwriting in Germany, Italy, Spain, etc. Currently, she is working on a play entitled Death is Not a Bicycle, commissioned by the Bochum Schauspielhaus, Germany. The premiere is planned for 2011. Biljana Srbljanovic lives and works between Belgrade, Paris and Baku, with her husband and a dog.

LOCUSTS is a dark farce that takes on the tensions between two generations – young adults who are afraid of getting old, and their parents who fail to reconcile their past. The play’s individual episodes weave tightly into each other, creating the illusion of a continuous plot wherein the “locusts” represent the losers of all generations: children who grew old before their time, thirtysomethings resigned to their fate, and childish (or simply senile) pensioners. They cling to exterior structures, craving and grabbing at anything they can: the savings of an aged father-in-law, admission among the “immortals” of the academy, improvement via plastic surgery, an undeserved bit of human affection. When these ultimately evade them, they amuse themselves by grabbing at each other’s throats, unscrupulously, with deliberate intention and unconcealed pleasure. The result is essentially a “natural”—and savage—state, the war of all against all. LOCUSTS is a play about people who change nothing in the world, who leave nothing behind, who will not be remembered for their deeds, and yet they live. They are here. They are us.


This play has been staged widely throughout Europe, from Germany to Austria, Croatia, France, Hungary, Russia, Serbia, or Scandinavia. This is its American premiere.

6:30 p.m., Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Martin E. Segal Theatre. Free!