Interview with Victoria Rangelova-Petrovska: The ten newly hired actors are the new theater fuel

Victoria Rangelova-Petrovska, acting director of the Skopje Drama Theater

Fresh, creative and productive energy reigns in the collective of Drama Theater Skopje, where, under the leadership of Viktorija Rangelova-Petrovska, the theater's technical and spatial shortcomings are turned into quality.

The Drama Theater had many different activities during this year. World Theater Day - March 27 was marked with the promotion of an extensive monograph on Risto Stefanovski. Guest performances from the Drama Theater at the RUTA festival, which is held every two months in six cities from the region (Belgrade, Zagreb, Ljubljana, Sarajevo, Podgorica and Skopje), have already become a regular practice.

At the beginning of the year, ten young actors were employed at the Drama Theater and thus brought new energy to the institution. New members of the cast are Lazar Hristov, Vladimir Petrović, Nina Elzeser, Marijan Naumov, Jovana Spasić, Anja Mitic, Ivana Pavlaković, Deniz Abdullah, Tomislav Davidovski and Sara Klimoska. For the last two months, the new play "Hedda Gabler" was being prepared on the big stage of the Drama Theater, the premiere of which is announced for April 20.

In the management position as acting the director of the Drama Theater is the playwright Viktorija Rangelova-Petrovska. For the second time, she is in a management position and again with full commitment to the theater and to the activity. In addition to regular duties in the theater, together with the team from Dramski, they made a move to honor the first director of the Drama Theater - Risto Stefanovski.

With what motive did you prepare and publish the monograph on Risto Stefanovski?

– Risto Stefanovski created and grew the Drama Theater. Without his professional selfless contribution, without his approach to the organization of work in the theater and without his vision in the creation of program policy, the Drama Theater would certainly not have established itself as a giant among theaters, not only in the country but also in the region. His contribution is not only in Drama Theater, but contribution and performance for the development of Macedonian theater art, in general. Everyone who has even a little knowledge of theater history will testify to that.

But few of the younger generation have even heard or know who Risto Stefanovski is. Hence, the least we could do was to assemble a team and prepare a monograph on it. Let's leave a written trace that will be a lasting mark, a literary work that will inform/educate the younger generation and a testimony with which our generation will pay him due respect for his contribution and dedication to theater art.

Promotion of the monograph on Risto Stefanovski

The large hall of the Drama Theater has been named "Risto Stefanovski" since March 27 of this year. What is its meaning for the theater from today's perspective?

- Stefanovski set principles and rules for the relationship that should be nurtured if a theater institution is to be successful. Success implies bringing the institution to first place in the family of competitors and having a satisfied team. Stefanovski was the director who was the first to arrive at work, he had no specific working hours, and when he slept he worked, he was always in touch with the current events, he had a perfect nose for talented theater authors, he managed to find a solution to every problem, he knew how to bring more funds to the theater , he knew how to dose the information and to whom and when to market it, he always had a hidden joker up his sleeve and worked honestly and domestically.

If the same principles and rules are followed today, success is inevitable. It's just a question of how many, today, are ready or staffed to work with the pace, dedication and lucidity that Risto Stefanovski had.

Risto Stefanovski worked in different times, when he had a different attitude towards culture and especially towards dramatic art. In what conditions does the Drama Theater work at the present time?

- Drama Theater is a collective that has never lost, and I believe will never lose, the zeal for creative creation and competitiveness. In all its work departments, strong, tenacious and talented people work, who know how to successfully cope with the technical and spatial shortcomings of the theater.

Drama theater is an example that a quality performance is not always created in perfect conditions and with a lot of money. As a collective, we know how to turn shortcomings into quality. Very often we do the impossible. But constantly facing the impossible can one day lead us to a dead end. Therefore, it must be invested in the spatial and technical capacities in the existing building.

At the beginning of the year, you signed a decision to hire ten young actresses and actors, who are now part of the Drama Theater team. Is it about rejuvenating the collective or a natural change of generations?

- The natural change of generations unequivocally entails the possibility of rejuvenating the collective. In the last dozen years, a large number of actors have left the team due to retirement or other unfortunate reasons. This opened up a great opportunity that could not be missed. The Drama Theater needed fresh energy. The already proven acting ensemble needed a quality plus.

The ten newly recruited actors are the new theatrical fuel. And the truth should not be glossed over that without the commitment of the Minister of Culture Bisera Kostadinovska-Stojchevska, who wholeheartedly insists on opening opportunities for young people, the rejuvenation of the theater ensemble would have been impossible. Now, with ten of them, the collective will work in a different rhythm and new theatrical dimensions will be opened, of course a new audience will be attracted.

As a playwright by profession, according to what principles do you create the repertoire policy in the theater?

– Principle of quality. Quality dramatic text, quality collaborators, quality production and to all of that awareness of the time in which it is being created, to always be in step with contemporary theater settings. But since the theater bears the name Drama Theater, one must not forget the genre determinant that is written in its name.

What does managing a theater mean nowadays, and for you personally?

- "Devilish" work, if you aim for the institution to achieve success. And if you're going to do the devil's job, you need to be a bit of a devil to be able to handle all the challenges that come with running a theater. A team of collaborators who share the same vision for the theater must be created. The composition of the Arts Council and the Management Board is extremely important. With sincere and broad-minded collaborators, the set goals can be fully realized.

In addition to the help of colleagues, one should have a stomach for all the requests of employees and superiors, but one should also have the courage to stand in the way of their whims. With the employees in the team, this situation is everyday. Hence, the most important thing is to set priorities and implement them one by one, until the last one in the list and then compile a new list of priorities. Never stop. For me, personally, management implies principled consistency and love for painstaking work, in which you have to be careful not to lose yourself along the way.

With the play "The Fall of Masada" directed by Dejan Projkovski, Drama Theater was a guest at the RUTA festival in Podgorica last week.

Drama Theater Skopje is a member of the Regional Union of Theaters (RUTA). Bearing in mind that you actively participated in the formation of RUTA, what is the significance of the Drama Theater Association, but also for the regional connection of theaters?

– RUTA appeared at the right time for the Drama Theater. Negotiations for participation in RUTA began in 2018. For years before that, the theater was not active outside the borders of the state. RUTA allowed him to be seen by the audience in the wider region. The union opened the possibility of connecting more theater collectives from the region, opened opportunities for co-production projects and opened a new market for the work of theater workers in both directions, for our artists to work on theater stages outside the country and for colleagues from other countries to come to us.

ROUTE stands for connection, selflessness, creativity and competitiveness. Through the cooperation in RUTA, the Drama Theater has opened space for co-production project(s) with the Local Theater from Ljubljana and with the Belgrade Drama Theater in the following period. The realization of co-production projects with a mixed team enables development and progress in all sectors. Through such co-production projects, a strong relationship is created with collaborators from other countries, the acting ensemble has the opportunity to face a different work methodology from the established one, in the technical sector, the employees learn about new tools and techniques and at the same time master the new production model and the in addition, the new product requires a different placement in the theater repertoire.

Through RUTA, we realized what we are better than others, and what others are better than us. If we nurture and upgrade the cooperation, over the years, RUTA will grow into an even more significant theatrical event. The step we took with RUTA opened opportunities for connection and cooperation with other theater festivals, quite naturally after the first step a second follows.

You announced the new premiere on the stage of the Drama Theater for April 20. What should we expect from the play "Hedda Gabler" by Henrik Ibsen directed by Vasil Hristov?

– The audience should expect an unconventional play that consistently follows the contemporary theater matrix, an exceptional/specific directorial concept, language and procedure, a series of acting bravado, a strong emotional dramatic charge and a dramatic structure that emphasizes the lucidity and greatness of Ibsen today, exactly 133 years from the premiere performance of the dramatic text "Hedda Gabler".

A scene from the play "Hedda Gabler"

Theater premiere - Contemporary reading of "Hedda Gabler"

A new play on the stage at the Drama Theater is "Hedda Gabler", based on the text of the classical author Henrik Ibsen, but adapted to modern living conditions. The director of the play is Vasil Hristov, and the adaptation is by Viktorija Rangelova-Petrovska and Vasil Hristov.

- Hedda Gabler, as one of the most famous (anti)heroines in dramatic literature, plays a significant role in raising awareness of women's issues. Ibsen creates a female character who refuses to live and serve the conventions of a patriarchal society. Her struggle for autonomy and search for perfection, as well as her ambition to possess "masculine power" to be able to influence both her own and the fate of others, results in the killing of perfection itself. Her act leaves a mark that symbolizes the fight for gender rights and equality - director Vasil Hristov points out.

Actress Sanja Arsovska, who plays the main role of Hedda Gabler Tessman, points out that it is one of the most complex and difficult female characters written in world dramaturgy and that there is no actress who does not wish to win that role. She is especially glad that the character appears at this point in her life, because some characters require both acting maturity and life experience. Through Hedda, the emotional state of the woman caused by social restraints is reflected. She pointed out that Hedda is the female counterpart of the Hamlet character with all the dilemmas she carries within herself.

Zoran Ljutkov, Vladimir Petrović, Deniz Abdullah and Sara Klimoska play characters with their own history, biography and problem in the play. The scenographer of the play is Vasil Hristov, and the costumes are by Roze Trajcheska-Ristovska.

(The interview was published in "Kulturen Pechat" number 227, in the print edition of the newspaper "Sloboden Pechat" on 20-21.4.2024)

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