'You Will Marry Me' is a Work Metaphorically Related to my Experience in Isolation
Interview for Radio MOF, Skopje
Petar Miloshevski is an actor, performer and author of theatre projects who lives and works in London. Miloshevski's performances are presented as a contemporary combination of speech and physical theatre, and according to critics of his work in Britain and continental Europe, his work is seen as a fusion of the disciple and mastery of dramaturgical structures emanating from Eastern European drama schools and irreverent approach to the creative process that became a trademark of British theatre-making.
In the last few years, Miloshevski has focused on developing solo projects, which have been performed at the Proud Camden Gallery, the Shaw Theater, the Diorama Theater, but also at European theatre festivals in Germany, France, Romania, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Armenia and Belarus.
With his solo performances "HOPE", "THE BEAUTIFUL" and “The Passion according to BIBI", Miloshevski has participated in the Young Open Theater (MOT) festival in Skopje on three occasions.
Art and digitalisation during the pandemic, Jacques Prévert and Virginia Woolf and the process of making his latest video project are some of the topics we discussed with Miloshevski.
He says that the inspiration for "You Will Marry Me" is a direct result of the situation we are all in.
"During this quarantine, which has been going on for three months now, I went through spontaneous ups and downs like never before, for the simple reason that we never knew about a similar situation. That's why I wanted to create a dream-like work, metaphorically related to my experience in isolation. A story about a person trapped between four walls, in a dispute with his own gender, his own will to survive, with the hope that someone will call, but even when that happens, he is never the one to bring a sense of fulfilment and satisfaction . This is a story of blurred experiences and moments, which seem to float through that loneliness, but still filled with so much passion, desire and hope. This is how this character doubts, this is how ‘it’ desires, this is how ‘it’ loves, dances and sings, filled with the power of wide cathedrals. This is how this character wants to continue in spite of everything", says Miloshevski, explaining his latest project for Radio MOF.
This is your new standalone project, this time made entirely in quarantine. What is the difference with Petar as an artist before the quarantine, but also after the shooting of the film?
In terms of how I understand things and what environment I live in, at least for now, I do not feel any essential difference in me before and during quarantine. I am, like all other actors and stage actors in Britain, a freelance artist. This means that on a mental and spiritual level, I am in constant quarantine. Without wanting to sound sad or dramatic, it really is like that. In general, we as actors have that professional deformation of going into ourselves - we think, we consider, we rethink, we dream.
What has changed radically this time around is that there are currently no spaces where you can present your art. Literally. I am glad that artists immediately set about rethinking their practice and the way it would be presented to the audience. I notice general artistic tirelessness and restlessness all around. And it must be so. The artist must not stop. Because even when we think that he doesn’t have or doesn’t get any engagements, still deep down he constantly works on himself and on his views and abilities.
After filming "You Will Marry Me", which unlike my previous stage solo projects was my first video performance, I felt like there really was something that would remain to resonate for longer and for the future. For the simple reason that theatre in a live context exists only in the moment when it is played and watched, even when the live performance was filmed with the highest technical capacities.
How long did the process of creating "You Will Marry Me" take?
This is a short ten-minute film and that is why the process was not more than a few weeks, unlike when I dedicate almost six months to the preparation and realisation of my stage solo performances. The idea came most spontaneously - it was one of those simple urges to which one can’t turn a blind eye. Inspiration comes, you step on solid ground and then the world is yours. The restrictions I had were absolute and somehow, that gives you extra freedom. Every possible element that appears in the film - costume, scenery, light, text - is all I could find in my home storage - all the props and pieces of unused fabric from previous costumes that sit packed and here they finally found their place and role; texts only from the books I have in my home library, music composed only from my recorded voice and then remastered with added technical effects - meaning everything found in the quarantine of my London flat. I recorded it spontaneously and in one breath. The recordings with all the frames with a previously prepared plan lasted all day, and even more for editing.
Why Jacques Prévert and Virginia Woolf?
The text as an element in my projects is always and absolutely capable of meeting the aesthetic and spiritual criteria of what I want to convey as meaning, on the same level as every single movement, every look, every costume element. That is why I deliberately play with changing intonations and various voice variations. It fulfils me and makes me even more interested. Prévert and Woolf, along with two or three other pieces of text that I have scribbled down aside and I really can’t find out what source they came from, found me as strong words and strong books always find me. I do not believe in random encounters of this kind. I know when it is and what the right text is when it meets me - and I’m quite uncompromising when it comes to literature - a text that while reading makes your heart beat faster and from which you can squeeze the most beautiful juice translated into perfect vocal acting intonation.
"You Will Marry Me" was shot entirely on the iPhone, and due to the pandemic, the art moved online. How much has this experience changed your art creation process?
"You Will Marry Me" was shot entirely with the iPhone and edited on iMovie on macOS. The most interesting and curious experience in the whole situation for me is finding a new medium of expression. Since the beginning of the quarantine, for various motives, many have resorted to recording various monologues, stories, conversations, debates, presenting them as a theatre of quarantine. I think this is not and cannot be theatre for the reasons I have given above. It is more interesting that it’s not a movie either. That's why I'm not sure at the moment that the term "film" is relevant to "You Will Marry Me". So it is not a theatre, nor is it a film in the classical sense of acting in front of a camera or film elements in terms of directing and editing. What I think we can establish is that, perhaps, we are witnessing the birth of a new medium of expression - one left on the border of what has been established so far and still in its infancy. A new form of expression, in terms of acting, the role of the camera, space and composition of sequences. Maybe so far we have persistently carved on stone, without realising that we have a paper on which it is possible to write even easier, more beautifully and more creatively. Maybe we are currently learning how to actually write on that paper, realising that it requires a few other instruments, not a stone chisel. I don’t know, I suppose we are still in the dawn of what has befallen us all.
What adjustments did you have to make in the creation process, and will you keep them?
First of all, I had to gain additional insight into editing, which is an art in itself. Although I have previously edited some of the trailers and videos for my performances, this time it was really different. I discovered an additional love for this toy. It was fun and extremely useful for me to learn more through video tutorials. Of course, I had to check every frame beforehand, the figure itself, the figure in space, the light on the figure in space, and so on. Something that used to be extremely important in my stage projects, only now I had to transform it into a different form, having the modest tools that I had at my disposal. I guess what I failed to achieve now and what I think needs to be improved, I will realise it in my following projects, which is already taking more and more shape in my head.