Prof. Vladimir Stamenkovic

Review of the Book by Zoran Stefanovic
"Slavic Orpheus and Other Plays"

Belgrade, 1995.

Four plays that were offered to the publisher for publishing, the [early] plays by Zoran Stefanovic, were written during his schooling at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts. That makes all the more surprising the maturity with which he abandons the boundaries of realistic drama which his [then] yet unfinished studies and overall Serbian playwriting tradition might have lead him to. Zoran Stefanovic owes this maturity first of all to the fact that he has within himself the uncontainable urge not to, when he writes for the theater, limit himself merely to show the visible, but to also strive at all costs to reach the essence, the substantial in man and in life.

But, although in a formal sense, and also with regard to the subject matter, these plays are very different, they also form a very compact whole: they all stem from expressionistic heritage, in the meaning that was assigned this term immediately after WWI in Germany. They seem as though they had been written by a companion of the authors that, at that time, called themselves neo-pathetics, abstractists, eternists, futurists and even activists. The position of our author, in other words, is sensitively over-enhanced: among the feelings that overcome him the dominant ones are feelings of horror, distraught, rebellion, a visionary exhilaration. Zoran Stefanovic might, like Schtadler, say for these feelings: "I am but flame, thirst and scream and fire".

Thus the poetism of Zoran Stefanovic, quite disparate in our [Serbian] literary space. According to him, the role of a playwright is to be a prophet, to awaken and enlighten, to rebel and lead. He must not take photographs; he must have visions. He does not capture images, he forms them. He does not take overly from reality, and what he does borrow from it serves him as building material for his search for the essence of people and occurrences.

In a different theater, more given to experimenting, creative searching, at least some of these plays would long since have been staged. As it is, they should somehow be kept from being forgotten, for the future, in the form of a book of course. And that is one more reason why they should certainly be placed into the hands of readers.

Vladimir Stamenkovic
[theater critic and professor at the
Faculty of Dramatic Arts of the University of Belgrade]

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