"I find myself in characters who are not afraid to dig as deep as possible, so they can swim as far as possible"
An Interview for Portret Magazin | Skopje, July 2020
Actor, performer and author of theatre and video performances, Petar Miloshevski nurtures a unique attitude towards art and acting. It has been illustrated over the years through his projects, performances and awards, whether on our stage or in London, where he lives and works. His latest projects are the video performances You Will Marry Me and My Dreams Will Be Your Dreams, in which he presents his art and performance in quarantine conditions.
Tell us briefly your life story, how you got to London and the development of your passion for art, acting and performance?
I have been on stage since I was eight years old. That was my first stage experience in my native Bitola. Without hesitation I followed my call from those early years, through several performances at the Bitola National Theater as a child, then in our amateur scene at the Centre of Culture, in which we experimented most bravely and madly - many of us are now professional actors and directors. I graduated in acting at the National Academy of Theater and Film Arts in Sofia, where in the meantime I acted in some plays at the their National Theater. I was employed for two years in the Blagoevgrad Drama Theater, where I acted in almost all the plays in the current repertoire, but the thirst for discovering new horizons was stronger than anything. I left everything behind, I traveled to London, I started from the absolute beginning and little by little I discovered the flow of life, the culture scene, the way of life there. Then, I got a Master's degree in Performance from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London. During those years I started experimenting with solo performances that I performed in alternative spaces - in galleries, in the gallery’s toilets, or, for example, in Proud Camden which is a space transformed from former stables, etc. I rediscovered strength and comfort in that kind of expression, and from short performances, I started developing full-length solo shows that I was lucky enough to play at numerous European festivals, for which I received fantastic reviews and numerous awards.
How well-known is your work in London, which theatres do you work with and what projects do you work on? Which topics intrigue the most?
So far I have enjoyed wonderful reactions from critics and audiences. What I do is always praised for my exceptionally innovative approach to the form I develop in my projects. I collaborate with individuals who find themselves in the aesthetics that I propose and who bring more new ideas with them. My constant collaboration with Antonella Petraccaro - the Swiss costume designer is precious - with her I managed to make costumes for my performances which in themselves are like works of art. Her costume for my play THE BEAUTIFUL was voted one of the most successful designs in London a few years ago. My most recent collaboration is with the Polish composer Blanka Barbara, who created the soundtrack for my latest video performance My Dreams Will Be Your Dreams. It is extremely important for me to work with women and people from marginalised communities in general. I always hope for deep and inspiring collaboration with people open to innovation and passion to reach as far as possible through the art they carry with them.
The themes I describe in my works are the macrocosm, viewed through the microcosm of the individual, who stumbles on the very edge of his personal and social existence, but still with an almost frantic desire to reach as far and as high as possible.
Compared to a Macedonian environment, I can imagine that the respect for individuality and the opportunity to work of one's own free will and dream, without stigmatisation, is greater in England. In which direction do you think the Macedonian society is on this issue?
Maybe yes, but still even here you have to submit yourself to a system and set of working values . You usually pay a lot for that - with work, money, health… Institutions seem to be open to various ideas, but that does not mean that you are allowed to do just anything. Moreover, the British cultural scene is so financially deregulated that if you do not sell enough tickets at the box office, you may be the most radical artist - but that means almost nothing. It is certainly the fruit of the government's terrible austerity policies, which in recent years have made institutions and artists tamed in some way, because income in such a neoliberal society are more important than anything else. Radicalism and innovation are often just spin by clever PR and marketing.
From what I can conclude from seeing certain performances and cultural events in Macedonia, is that it is a society with a a huge amount of talent, predisposition and potential. I think that there are genius actors and extraordinarily good art, for the simple reason that Macedonian society is constantly looking abroad and that is why it is drinking various experiences. Of course, I'm talking about certain exceptions here, not the whole politics of the cultural scene.
When I came in June 2019, especially to attend the first Pride Parade in Skopje and when it was held in such a huge number, with such impeccable discipline, it gave me a sign that Macedonian society deep down is really grown and eager to move forward. The fact that it fails to get rid of certain structures which hinder it is another matter. But the fight does not stop.
Given the pandemic and quarantine, how did you nurture the inspiration? Having created the You Will Marry Me project in quarantine, it is now on the list of nominations for the prestigious Lift Off Global Network Film Festival. Did you hope for such success?
You Will Marry Me is my first video performance - by nature, it is a medium which allows for a range of acting palette which is far from the sort of range I can call upon in a live, stage performance context, but its visual and moral aesthetics are close to the way I work on my live shows. A project developed and realised in absolute quarantine, reached many, I received many wonderful messages and now it has been selected for the Lift Off festival.
When you say "prestigious", one would immediately think of the palm trees and red carpets at Cannes, but let's not forget that we are living in slightly different times in the last few months, where everything is presented online. This does not mean that the value is less, but I have long ago learned to distance myself from the opportunities that are given to me. In that sense, I want and learn more to be like the Tibetan monks, who for days and days work hard in the sand to make the most fascinating mandala, live, breathe, dream in its creation, and in the end, with just a swing of the hand to destroy it in a second. Because everything is transient and we must then seek and realise the next opportunity given to us.
Your latest video performance is My Dreams Will Be Your Dreams. What is this project about and how did the filming and preparation develop?
My Dreams Will Be Your Dreams is a metaphorical and poetic story about the artist / muse duality - the artist locked in isolation, unable to achieve his goals. Just as the most inspired moments can turn into self-destruction, so the most wonderful muse can turn into a kind of demon - but still, this is a kind of story about the relentless struggle and the will to go ahead and invent and dream about who the new human being is, with a new body, in the new world to come.
I was developing, thinking and writing again in quarantine, the recordings and editing took several days and here, somewhere there, in the virtual space, it is looking for its like-minded audience and those who can be found in the world he proposes.
How do you prepare for your performance, what is your favourite part of creating projects?
My performances are extremely physical and for that I need good physical preparation - I have been an active cyclist for years, I jog, I swim, I do aerobics - everything I need to keep my instrument in at least some enviable shape.
When I create my project, I totally immerse myself in the creation and those are my most precious moments. I see, I hear, I read, I research, I try different situations. It is my home, my self.
Do you prefer solo performances or group theatre performances? Which author is your favourite and in which play or character do you find yourself the most?
I don’t split my love for theater in solo or group. I just swim through life and seize the opportunities it gives me at certain moments. The important thing is that I am always open to new ideas and new collaborations. By nature I am extremely curious and that is exactly this curiosity I try to maintain and nurture. Favourite authors, plays and characters are also momentary and fleeting. If I want to play any character, I sit down, create it and play it.
I find myself in marginalised characters, who are fearless of going into all conceivable extremes, characters who are looking for new identities, new worlds and new horizons, characters who are not afraid to dig as deep as possible so that they can swim as far as possible.
You have participated in the MOT Theatre Festival in Skopje several times. What experience did your participation bring you and would you perform again?
Three times at the MOT and many other times at other Macedonian theatre festivals. I am extremely happy that I still maintain contacts there, I am overjoyed to be able to present myself to the Macedonian audience who has been following me all these years and coming to my performances. Indeed, without of any kind of pathetic nostalgia, Macedonian audience is of particular importance to me - not because I was born there, but because it truly possesses exceptional qualities of openness, generosity and curiosity. Macedonian audience always gives you the opportunity, it really knows how to appreciate - and anyone who does not see this really does not recognise its potential.
Which part of London is your favourite and why?
Crouch End - where I’ve lived for many years. Because I'm on the doorstep of Queens Wood and Highgate Wood and Parkland Walk and Hampstead Heath. I live in the middle of this huge green jungle through which I walk constantly, where I think, where I breathe, where I hope, where I say to myself that, really, since I walk and think and breathe and hope, then maybe everything is fine and that there must always be a way to move forward and take care of ourselves and others.