Distant Voices, Universal Lives

The break-up of the former Yugoslavia in 1991 with five separate countries appearing on the world political map (Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro) marked the beginning of a new era for the various nationalities and ethnicities living in the region. The challenges of independence, democracy, and civic society were many and substantial. One of the crucial problems facing new, smaller states was its youth. While many had died during the ethnic wars, many had left the region, mostly for the West, in search of jobs, better lives, future. The rest stayed behind with nowhere to go. The generation of young people coming of age during the bloody 1990s, and in the first years of the 21st century, had a crude awakeningÑtheir countries had broken economies, the value systems in shambles, and the chaotic first steps in democratic processes. The youth of the Balkans had to grow up fast and face reality without the one-party system's moral compass available to the generations before them.

Among these young people a new generation of writers, writing predominantly for the theatre, appeared. They came supplied with the keen eye and ear and mind for their historical momentum, as well as with the knowledge of dramatic and theatre history and tradition. A brilliant, strong class of playwrights emerged and offered their contemporaries, at home and abroad, a unique vision of the past, present, and future of lands and people known as the South Slavs. Their names are: Biljana Srbljanovic, Nebojsa Romcevic, Dejan Dukovski, Damir Solan, Ugljesa Sajtinac, Milena Markovic, to name just a few. With the production of Ugljesa Sajtinac's Huddersfield, directed by Dado, TUTA introduces the first one of these new voices. In the fall, TUTA will produce Milena Markovic's Tracks.

It is important and valuable to hear these young dramatists from a small, faraway land writing in a language spoken by a few. They have that precious ability to construct plots and characters deeply rooted in the local historical, religious, and political circumstances that speak universally, across the borders, language barriers, and invisible walls. These dramatists show us, clearly and powerfully, how diverse people, with different cultures, languages, and histories, can still feel the same things and with the same intensity, regardless of differences in their living conditions. Watching these characters in action, whether set in Zrenjanin, Serbia, Huddersfield, UK, or Peoria, IL, make us all relate to the feelings of powerlessness, isolation, fear, or apathy,and the need to belong, to love, to laugh, and to hope..

-Milan Pribisic, Dramaturg

TUTA is partially supported by Arts Work Fund for Organizational Development, The Light A City Fund, The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, City Arts I and the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, and The Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.