International Theatre Festival MOT | Skopje, Macedonia
1. "Perform for me! Play a role for me! "- The Master, to BIBI
In "The Passion according to BIBI", the audience cannot avoid confronting its own isolation. In this project, which features the author, who is also behind the light, music and stage design, Petar Miloshevski manages to create a complex overview of today's pain and sickness in less than an hour.
In a world where people are becoming more distant, they forget how to offer their bodies to others. Physical intimacy becomes too intimate. BIBI is the future of sex - an intelligent robot that can cook, clean and look after your home. BIBI knows how to conduct any conversation, as well as recite by heart Shakespeare, Bergman, Chekhov. Most importantly, BIBI will have sex with you whenever you want.
This is how the relationship between BIBI and BIBI's Master roughly looks like: BIBI serves and serves when needed. The thing that BIBI's manufacturers did not expect is that BIBI's intelligence will slowly start to build feelings. BIBI begins to take care of its master, his fate, the fact that he has feelings at all. "I felt his skin for real!" - says BIBI of its master. This is the first thread in the story by Miloshevski, which speaks of the dangers of dependence on modern appliances and the unexpected consequences of their careless use. By doing human things, BIBI acquires human characteristics.
2. "Not one thing, or the other." - BIBI, about itself
The second narrative was built around BIBI's deliberate androgynous appearance, a robot, played by a man, with female gender attributes, reinforced by a cutting-edge costume design (Antonella Petracarro). This approach to BIBI's physical appearance and demeanour allows Miloshevski to tell at the same time of the increased fluidity of gender and gender roles. BIBI is not "she" or "he", but "it". BIBI is "it", not because of the fact that it is an object, but because of the fact that there is no precise gender identity. There is no doubt that BIBI is a person. Miloshevski lends the character such force of emotion, in contrast to the precise, mechanical manners of the wind-up doll. He imparts an immaculate diction and weight with every word. The soundtrack gives further colour to the character. This is most striking at the zenith of action, when growing tension culminates in an unexpected but very appropriate musical crescendo.
3. "I am not what I am anymore." - BIBI, to us
The third, perhaps secretly underlying, yet present-day narrative is that of modern loneliness. Miloshevski likes to talk about modern technology, about changes on the horizon. But going even further, he introduces a dark mirror into the play through which the audience should see themselves. To see and face one’s isolation and the concealment of one's own empathy. Today's online life shortens the distance, but it clouds the closeness. Breeded with the instant pleasures of the age, people lose the motivation to invest in themselves and in others. Digital rewards and praise come cheap - a fast food for the soul, and "more expensive" pleasures suddenly do not have the same taste. Miloshevski asks what is the real price for these changes.
Is it that BIBI begins to develop feelings, or are we the ones facing the loss of our own? When the man-like becomes more vivid than man himself, the answer is clear. I warmly recommend.
The future of sex is emotional and moral alienation - review
International Theatre Festival MOT | Skopje, Macedonia
The cult status “Blade Runner” was elevated to in the 80s generated a series of moral issues, still relevant today. The notions of digital intimacy and emotional fulfilment seem to grow hand-in-hand with the development of technology. Do people, through the assistance of the state-of-the-art appliances, seek to bypass the efforts of genuine connection?
Our chaotic and fast moving lifestyles don’t allow us much free time: is it actually absolutely normal and rational to seek sexual comfort in a device which already knows the individual needs of the person? The simple answer is yes. As a result, welcome to the 21st century in real life - sex robots.
BIBI is like no other robot. BIBI can be whatever the client wants it to be, regardless of the human’s sexual orientation. BIBI is so sophisticated that it is not only a sex toy, but also a life companion which will embrace all of its master’s fetish games with equal enthusiasm as reciting Shakespeare, as desired.
There is however a small problem in this consumerist utopia. BIBI eventually begins to develop true emotions for its master, contrary to the rules of the game. This is the moment when all the moral complexities which had until now lurked in the shadows flow to the surface with a vengeance. Isaac Asimov’s “Three Laws of Robotics” (obedience, service, no physical attack on a human being) which until then had been tacitly accepted, now carry huge moral issues. When is a creature deemed to be conscious and with certain rights? To what extent conscious robots should be exposed to tasks they no longer wish to execute? What does it mean to be human at all?
None of these questions have easy answers and who would even attempt to answer them? Petar Miloshevski is brave, “crazy” and talented enough to tackle such an emotionally laden topic by giving it a visually striking treatment in the form of a solo-performance. He brings BIBI the robot to life, giving it sex appeal, complex emotions and great deal of toughness.
Miloshevski’s performance is violent, cruel, but also at times very gentle, displaying a level of self-possessed composure and discipline usually characteristic of an actor with much more experience behind him. The way he interprets his own text is immaculately synchronised with his own original choreography, and the emotional charge he conveys to the audience has all the more impact for it.
The Passion according to BIBI is a small masterpiece of a sort few will have ever witnessed. London’s Evening Standard listed this performance in the Top 10 shows at this year’s Camden Fringe Festival, a testimony to the impact this young artist single-handedly managed to achieve.
Masterful is an adjective which probably does not even begin to describe the impression left by this performance, where Petar Miloshevski manages to turn BIBI into much, much more than just a sexy “Replicant”.
Camden Fringe Review: The Passion According to Bibi by Petar Miloshevski at The Cockpit Theatre
When I heard about this solo show by the award-winning Petar Miloshevski, I was in awe of the concept. I’d never seen a show that was about the future of human sexuality and it intrigued me. Imagine a world where noone has sex with people anymore, due to embarrassment of our bodies and/or health and hygiene reasons, so we all buy a “Bibi” a robot who will keep us company and fulfill our social and sexual appetites, whatever they may be.
Here is the synopsis written on the Camden Fringe website:
The latest 1N5TA-5EX robot.
Humans have lost the notion of offering their body unselfishly. That is why we have invented the future of sex.
BIBI learns things about you. BIBI smiles, blinks and frowns. It remembers your birthday, what you like to eat and drink, the names of your parents. It can hold a conversation about music, films, books, tell jokes, quote Shakespeare and Chekhov. And of course, BIBI will have sex with you at will.
No matter your sexuality or gender, with BIBI by your side, you’ll never feel unfulfilled.
As a solo show, I wondered how Petar would go about setting the scene and telling the story but with a clever mix of acting, mime, music, sound and amazing mood lighting, Petar brings Bibi to life.
The set is very minimal, a single white chair is all that is needed and Petar uses his body in a variety of ways on the floor, the chair and in the space to show us (the audience) what is happening.
The opening is very powerful with choreography, which is very doll like/robot like, performed with precision alongside some very good and timely sound effects. It’s obvious that Petar has had professional dance/movement training as even his poses are very stylised.
At times I felt so sorry for Bibi, who seemed to take the stress of his “owner” (which Petar performs different voices for) who came across as needy, miserable and a motif in the choreography – the carrying of the chair over his head seems to represent this fact. It was quite intense at times!
A question asked in this show was about the mask we all wear in public – our public persona.
Who are we when we’re alone?
We all play a role in public – Is our persona real or a sham?
Is it true that life happens to us and we just react?
That was certainly food for thought…
This show is totally different to anything I have ever seen before. I did not expect it to be so intense, especially as a solo show.
Huge respect to Petar who managed to keep such intensity and entertainment at a high level for a whole hour alone, especially in the London heatwave, wearing at least 6 inch heels!
‘The form of work I create could be described as a symphony’: Petar Miloshevski on his latest solo piece The Passion According to BIBI at Camden Fringe
Petar Miloshevski is a Macedonia-born, London-based actor, performer and theatre-maker, who has been on stage since the age of eight. Miloshevski’s work in recent years has focused primarily on pioneering solo projects, with scripts, sound, lighting, and sets all self-devised. The Passion According to BIBI follows Miloshevki’s multi-award-winning pieces Hope, The Beautiful and Love, which have been performed in theatre and international festivals across Europe.
Which theatremakers have most influenced you?
I admire theatre-makers (directors, actors) who work with a great sensibility and are not intimidated to dig deep, to discover ever-greater levels of nuance and colour in their vocation. That inspires me immensely.
I wouldn’t even focus specifically on theatremakers. I draw inspiration from various forms of art. A theatre work by Thomas Ostermeir may have been equally inspirational to me as a painting by Rothko. If I really must mention names, here they are in no particular order: Ingmar Bergman, Alfred Schnittke, Dmitri Shostakovich, David Lynch, Pina Bausch, Andrei Tarkovsky, Joan Miro, Paul Klee, Bob Wilson, Dimitar Gotscheff, Heiner Muller, Barbara Hepworth… I will stop the list here, it is arbitrary, and there are so many more.
How would you describe your type of theatre?
I always describe it as ferociously physical and strikingly visual. The script is woven into a movement score – purely physical sequences which continue the story visually. The use of bold lighting to create/emphasise the moods and emotions of the piece are an integral part of its structure. The soundtrack is both structural and atmospheric. The result appeals to the senses as much as it appeals to the imagination and the intellect.
Audiences often comment on my performances as a peculiar symbiosis between theatre, performance art, pantomime and modern dance. In many ways, the form of work I create could be described as a “symphony” – of word, physicality, lighting and music, aimed directly at the audience’s emotionality. The characters of my shows tend to be outcasts, whose nature is put at odds with powerful societal taboos, but yet who aspire to a higher state of consciousness.
You’ve become known for your solo shows. What are the biggest challenges and rewards of doing it all yourself?
Yes, I have quite a few solo-works already, which have been performed at a number of festivals here in London as well as continental Europe, receiving great audience and critic acclaim, as well as a few international theatre awards.
It is an incredibly intimate process, very sacred, if I may say, because you delve into depths that can often be so intimidating, but also, depths which can result in astounding discoveries.
From a practical point of view, a solo show for me is a huge undertaking which spans sometimes one or two years and ranges from literary research, through commissioning a costume, sourcing the fabrics, finding the right music, right down to organising the marketing and cleaning the stage! It can be a lonely process, occasionally plunging you into despair, but ultimately it is exhilarating!
What was your inspiration for The Passion According to BIBI?
The very current topic of sexual harassment; the idea that somebody, somewhere is developing a high-intelligence lover substitute; the notion that there are people who prefer to be intimate with imaginary partners to live human beings; the need to touch and be touched; the intimidation to touch and be touched; the everlasting quest for the perfect lover, the perfect being, the perfect perfect.
If you were setting BIBI up on a blind date, how would you describe her?
BIBI is not a she, it is actually an IT. BIBI can inhibit any role you desire. It can perform any role you wish for. It can understand your character so well by studying all your ancestors from generations before. It can take you to such emotional highs as no other being in existence is capable of. But watch out: BIBI is also tremendously vulnerable and emotional. It can develop such an attachment, that it can easily become an indivisible and integral part of you, in such a fashion that you can surrender to BIBI’s passion and be forever and ever lost.
Your publicity photos are hilarious.
What an interesting perception. I never thought of that. Quite amusingly, a friend of mine the other day described the whole photo visuals as very “ticklish”.
I was simply trying to convey a very basic, almost a superficial description of a “sex-robot”. Hence the deliberate provocative poses of all kinds. But BIBI is much more than that. And this is the secret I want to keep for my audience. They will be taken on a very unexpected journey – yes, we will face some over-sexualised imagery, but more importantly, it will be a wild roller-coaster ride of ridiculous laughter, sad intimacy, painful memories, brutal loving, and delightful yearnings.
What’s your favourite line from the show?
“And when I think of my calling, I’m not afraid of life anymore.”
LOVE - review from BABEL International Performing Arts Festival Târgoviște, Romania
As human beings we hardly succeed to be ourselves. Our entire life is a struggle of expressing what our souls hide deep within. It is a long road that sometimes passes obstacles which seem impossible to overcome, because fear rushes through our blood from the very first moment we are born: the fear of existing, the fear of being abandoned, the fear of being conscious of all that surrounds us and not being able to give a proper response.
The last night show, LOVE, a show by & with Petar Miloshevski, was a great example of fighting with your own limitations. I honestly confess that the theme frightened me at the beginning. I was wondering what atrocities am I going to see on stage?... and I was ready to leave the theatre hall after 5 minutes, breaking the rule of the theatre professional who, despite all odds, has to be the last spectator standing. Main excuse was being tired after a whole week full of events and work to do. However, my expectations were completely turned upside down. The show started and I couldn’t take my eyes of the artist that was performing in front of us. I told my colleague: ‘The problem is that he is really good!’ in fact, it was not a problem at all, it was the joy that one hour performance will be a lesson of discovery, of confronting truths, an acting lesson, not a struggle of reaching the end of the story.
The subject was about eating another person out of too much love… literally speaking. Some weeks ago, I heard something completely randomly about internet conversation that start by having this purpose: one man who wants to eat another man that wishes to be eaten. The most concupiscent and atrocious way of making love. Petar played both roles, using just a costume trick and his infinite physical and facial flexibility. No other objects, only a chair helped him in developing the story. He smoked imaginary cigarettes and you could see their ash falling down, that was the accuracy of his movements. Nothing was too much, nothing was too less, everything he did was needed by the performance. The baroque music was giving dramatism to the story because the outlook of the artist on his characters seemed cynical and cold. No melodramatic trace occurred. These traces may be hard to be kept away, especially considering what it was about.
Two metaphors lift the entire performance to a higher level, giving a spiritual beautiful meaning to an impeccable acting technique: the butterfly and the image from the very end, which I won’t reveal. Much more can be said about LOVE, but what we really have to know and recognise is that, LOVE is about Sacrifice. Furthermore, what Petar Miloshevski did was a sacrifice towards the spectators that watched him with astonished eyes.
It was love at first sight: 'Have you died before ?'; 'Only in my dreams'
LOVE*, Petar Miloshevski
In a terrifying solo piece, the UK-trained Macedonian actor Petar Miloshevski, electrifies the Feux de la Rampe Theatre as part of the Paris Fringe Festival, first edition of this international festival of theatre in English, which runs until Sunday 29th May.
Already, the punishment is signified by the soundtrack, grating, irradiating the rows of the Feux de la Rampe, which are immersed in total darkness, with an oppressive atmosphere. Then HE appears, under a blood-red light, head shaved and wearing a bathrobe. The effect is overwhelming.
A spine-chilling performance
This man has a very peculiar design: to post an ad to make love and maybe more i.e. to be killed, cut up and eaten in the hope of reaching sexual nirvana. Granted, the topic is not the most inviting. And yet… the delivery is extremely compelling, free of haemoglobin, special effects, video or any other device to create anguish and gore. Everything here is performance. Mime sequences are stinging in their pinpoint precision. From insistent, almost sadistic flirting scenes – he smokes nonchalantly, a half-smile playing at the corner of his lips, to succumb with abandon, mouth open and hand on the forehead – to face-offs between the two men – he turns his Dracula-like bathrobe inside out to switch characters – to the love-to-death scene, the dramatic register is played with great finesse and, in addition to the feeling of dread it procures, plunges us into the abyss of an undisputable madness.
Bold lighting, ranging from blue to red, potently highlights violent and macabre scenes while the soundtrack, ranging from lyrical arias to shrill telephone rings, leaves us no respite from the escalating madness.
An actor of frightening precision
Perfect 'bad guy' with a shaved head, veins pulsating, pointy ears, emaciated features, piercing, clear blue eyes, the actor Petar Miloshevski is compelling. He mimes, he dances, he speaks (and looks at us brrrr) as if possessed by this sadistic, cruel and deadly love. Each movement of the mouth, of the eyes, of the hands, of the feet has significance. He excels at making us feel the deepest and most horrific torments: 'We possess an animality which is our obsession.' Champion of solo works which pull and twist the human soul in all directions, Petar Miloshevski has been acclaimed for his earlier productions - HOPE and THE BEAUTIFUL - and continues his journey in visceral and experimental theatre with LOVE. An award he received in 2013 at the Festival International MOST in Germany describes his universe perfectly: 'Award for the transmission of impulses of the human soul in the language of movement and poetry.'
LOVE written and performed by Petar Miloshevski
Le 29 mai à 18h
au Théâtre Les Feux de la Rampe
34, rue Richer, 75009 Paris
*LOVE at Paris Fringe was presented under the title of AMOUR
Sometimes ‘atmospheric’ isn’t enough. Or ‘strange’. Plenty of things are ‘strange’ or ‘atmospheric’, but the latest work by Peter Miloshevski is so singular in its mode of expression that it takes time for your eyes and ears to become accustomed, and has an atmosphere that could give you the bends.
LOVE takes its inspiration from the case of Armin Meiwes, the man who sprang to international infamy when he advertised for, murdered and consumed a voluntary victim in the spring of 2001. But Miloshevski isn’t concerned with the grimy details, he’s aiming for the furious, yearning heart of the matter. LOVE is the story of twin passions, both obscene but both capable of beauty too, if only in their absolute sincerity and the mockery they make of everyday affections.
Miloshevski plays both characters in turn, the killer and the victim, the chef and the meat, or just the lover and the lover. His text is a patchwork of De Sade, Nabokov, Vasko Popa and his own writings, delivered as lurching prose poems and odd broken whisperings. The effect is disorientating, but moving, impossibly intense emotions gradually accrete from the over-full-ness of the text.
This sense of excess, of dense richness, carries over into Miloshevski’s physical work. Moments of gibbering mania burst out against cacophonous strings, others are poised and fragile, like the ghost of some fragile Quentin Crisp. There’s a sense of oppressive aestheticism that’s entirely appropriate to a relationship which fetishizes the flesh and the bodily to such an extreme extent. There are traces of the gothic and of a fin de siècle degeneration – Miloshevski has transformed the story into the À rebours of anthropophagy. One man’s jewelled tortoise is another’s cranial ashtray, I guess.
There are no judgements in LOVE, apart from a brief glimpse of tittle-tattling neighbours, and a brief conversation about bone disposal which seems more tumescent than anything else, the two lovers are allowed to exist entirely within their own world. Politics and morality are kept well out of the equation, everything is teeth and blood and mutual indulgence.
It’s true that Miloshevski’s idiosyncratic physical language takes some getting used to, and the paroxysms he throws himself into can occasionally teeter dangerously close to the absurd, but there’s also a sense that this is something he is aware and in control of. The bouffon is never entirely absent from his back-breaking spasms, there is a definite challenge being thrown out to his audience.
There is also a danger of a work that is so singular in its purpose alienating its audience or drifting into obscurity, but the simple use of a double-sided dressing gown, gorgeously constructed by Antonella Petraccaro, keeps the characters distinct, and adds a particularly gruesome implication of flaying to the transformations.
Apart from that costume, the rest of the production has been created by Miloshevski alone, and this leads to a sense of wholeness and clarity of purpose which explains so much of the piece’s oddness, as well as its strength. It is its own ghastly consummation, a grisly love poem from the outer fringe of human expression and compassion.
LOVE tells the story a man who posts an unusual personal ad: he is seeking someone to make love to him firstly, but then to kill and finally eat him. Petar Miloshevski plays both ‘X’, the consumed, and ‘Y’, the consumer, in this harrowing but mesmerising one-man show. His jagged performance utilises a number of forms, including melodrama, mime and abstract dance, but it is a creature of its own making rather than a product of others.
Beginning in a sombre tone – a bedraggled body lying in a heap on stage – Miloshevski lulls us into a false sense of security before firing into his first melodramatic masque, drenched in red light with classical music at blistering volume. Stunned into attention, LOVE maintained my piqued attention throughout.
Occasionally Miloshevski’s diction might prevent you from hearing a word or two, which is a shame in such an intricately crafted piece. But it is arguably his physicality that is most impressive: nuanced to say the least. Each movement is measured and pitched with precision. Both characters are painted in bright white light, a full tangled spectrum of emotion hiding within. One moment you can be watching a childishly excitable young fool dance about the stage, and the next a ferociously vindictive monster will spout flames of vitriol at the front row of the audience. Miloshevski commits entirely to every shift and every gesture. Sweat is pouring out of him, and you can see why. It is this level of conviction that makes his performance and his handling of such a complex subject matter – additionally through such an anachronistic form – so convincing.
There is much to be said for the use of music and lighting also, which are both devised by Miloshevski himself. They bolster the piece, moulding it into a multi-sensory product that approaches you on a unified front, often with violent intent. The costume by Antonella Petraccaro is singularly an indulgent dressing gown that looks like it was made with a curtain from the Palace of Versailles. It is also reversible, a structural device that allows Miloshevski to shift between X and Y with a dislocated folding movement, which works a charm.
All this culminates in the final episode of the monologue delivered by Y. Here, Miloshevski’s delivery is a perfect microcosm for all that has come before. With each and every line, his expression and his voice alter before you, producing a cubist portrait of a conflicted and tangled character. He flits between panicked emotions with the ease that Miloshevski does between theatrical genres. The end result is a unified whole however – a product whose purpose is to be experienced raw more than it is to be fully understood. LOVE is cathartic and violent in equal parts. Miloshevski produces barrels of wonderment from unspeakable human tragedy.
International Performing Arts Festival IMPACT, Veles
THE BEAUTIFUL is a project by Petar Miloshevski, a Macedonian who lives and works in London. Directing, script, effects - everything is conceived by him. Leaving aside superlatives for every aspect of the show, one’s strongest impression is about his acting. Petar Miloshevski is a man who acts with every muscle fibre, every nerve and every cell in his body. No matter which part of his body you look at, he shows the situation the character is in supremely, even with the tip of his fingers. In a flash, he turns into something else and then into yet another completely different thing. Any further comments on how he portrays the character would be simply redundant.
On the small stage of the Dramski Teatar, the solo-performance by Petar Miloshevski, our fellow countryman who lives in London, titled THE BEAUTIFUL, was an unqualified success. Through dance and speech Miloshevski tells, or rather unfolds before us, an hour-long swan song about our attempts to achieve ideals of beauty in people and life. To this end he personally selected texts (Ionesco, Duras, Marquez, Bulgakov ...) and created a symphony in which speech, body expression and elements of mime expression have equal importance. In each of these aspects, actor Petar Miloshevski is remarkable, subtle and exquisite, with an astonishing power to etch and morph through the emotional states of the character.
Todor Kuzmanov - Radio Skopje (Macedonian National Radio)
Cultural Mosaic, 26/09/2014
Petar Miloshevski, an actor who lives in London, gave the Macedonian premiere of his latest work THE BEAUTIFUL. A performance dedicated to beauty, and our preoccupation with beauty in today's society, hooked the audience at the Dramski Teatar and they repeatedly summoned the actor back for curtain calls. His extraordinary power to transform himself from a narcissistic beau to an ugly man and the striking costume and music combined to create theatrical beauty the MOT audience will long remember.
The second performance of the second night of the 39th MOT Festival, presented on the small stage of the Dramski Teatar, was THE BEAUTIFUL by the young actor Petar Miloshevski, a Macedonian who graduated in acting in Sofia and now lives and works in London. He came with his own project, a project of the most fascinating kind, presenting a theatre full of metaphors, at once highly visual and spoken, in a uniquely original costume and mask. Petar is an actor/writer who packs his story with metaphors, transformations of the self, the aspiration to be different, birth as well as physical and moral decay... A beautiful theatre which has been honed over a long period of time, with a clear sense of purpose. As a result it has it all.
International Monodrama Festival - Yerevan, Armenia 2014
Festival’s overture was exquisite – THE BEAUTIFUL by Petar Miloshevski, UK. If you compare Petar at the press conference - a very young, blondish-bespectacled smart ass - and Petar on stage, the transformation couldn't have been more skilfully done.
On the darkened stage stood a strange creature - whether evil spirit, or an infernal bird with mesmerising green eyes. This being, tossed between masculine and feminine principles, tore apart the desire to find a different, male or female, but beautiful flesh. The actor commanded his body virtuously, the voice – ranging from smarmy to formidable - sounded like velvet breaking into falsetto. Regarding his costume – truly theatrical costume, piled and assorted as a puzzle, one can, at least, write a thesis. Briefly, fine! Particularly, even finer while observing this acting master-class resembling a true gem.
A theatre review published in the bulletin of the International Theatre Festival Mogilev, Belarus
I confess. I confess my dear reader that now I won’t be able to be as unbiased as I was for the other festival days. Because one work came and assessed the already “prepared dish”, dig deeper into it, and finally made slightly difficult for us to come to a conclusion: was it delicious, disgusting, overdone?... Another thing is to be its preparator. Because, somehow, we appreciate more a work made by one’s own hands. But why all this preamble of mine? Because of the chance to have had the opportunity to see this performance at our festival. THE BEAUTIFUL. This humble servant also made possible to put down the language barrier between the audience and the character*. Just a bit of “seasoning” to improve the taste and give some more flavour.
But let’s talk about the show - and in particular its protagonist. The first thing that struck me deeply was the performance and versatility of Petar Miloshevski. Script, directing, acting, lighting and set, even soundtrack - all done by him. That’s certainly the best illustration of the proverb: “If you want a thing done well, do it yourself”... That is perhaps why the show was at once so thoughtful and at the same time dramatically goluptious. Every movement, every flare of light, every inch of the stage - all measured and spelt out in detail. As for the show itself, words are futile. It just needs to be seen. Seen! Facial expressions, voice intonation, words, body plasticity... Petar has tried to create the perfect balance between all these parts in his show, for which I am incredibly thankful! It is alas so rare nowadays to encounter such dedication, so much devotion.
And the story itself... This is the point of course where it gets very, very controversial and requires a lot of thought. The storyline created by Petar is woven of several small plots, united by a common thread. Petar’s character is a man with a difficult and strange destiny. Actually, is it a person? Perhaps, but maybe not. It is rather a creature, with neither sex nor age - grand, beautiful, ugly and fierce at the same time. Frankly, I haven’t seen such an uneasy emotional performance for a long time. Love, hate, indifference, perversion, desire, ignorance, sexuality, fear... It is all one, united in the character. He is a tormented soul, tormented by prejudice. Some would say he was the victim of beauty, but look deeper – he is also a killer. Aren’t we all yearning for genuine beauty, yet always end up settling for a false one? For whenever beauty requires a sacrifice from us, in most cases we end up as cowards... Aren’t we spending absurd amounts of time on the fake presentation of beauty, abandoning dignity and conscience, which should be our path towards truth? These are all universal issues that everyone can and should ask themselves, but not everyone dares for such a frank discussion with oneself. But the truth of the matter is that Petar Miloshevski – is not everyone.
*Svetlana also made the subtitles for the show from English into Russian
THE BEAUTIFUL - review
The play lived up to its name, with Antonella Petraccaro-Gysler’s stunning costume, well-chosen music and skilful lighting, but the most striking aspect, among many, was the intensity and imagination of the acting itself. Miloshevski’s performance was part acting, part movement bordering on dance. This, along with the exotic costume and make-up, gave the impression of someone transported to Covent Garden from one of the more experimental of the Edwardian-era Ballets Russes performances.
The way the character he played went mad before our eyes, reinforced this impression, conjuring up the ghost of Vaslav Nijinsky, the ‘God of the Dance’ who could equally have been referred to as ‘The Beautiful’ and whose mind disintegrated in the course of the First World War. Madness and talent traditionally walk close beside each other, but rarely can the distance between them have been as narrow – or as shifting – as in Miloshevski’s extraordinary tour de force. This is a work that will no doubt be seen in many more festivals across Europe in future and if their judging panels share even a part of the enthusiasm shown by the audience at the Tristan Bates then its deviser and performer is in line for another clutch of well-deserved awards.
THE BEAUTIFUL - Paul Ibell's interview with Petar Miloshevski
In August each year the Edinburgh Festival takes many people away from London and up to Scotland. Meanwhile, mainstream London theatre carries on regardless. Eight years ago, however, the London fringe decided to strike back and launch a season of its own - the Camden Fringe Festival, which this year has some 180 productions in venues from Highgate to Covent Garden.
One of the most anticipated of these shows is Petar Miloshevski’s The Beautiful, at the Tristan Bates Theatre, attached to the Actors’ Centre, on 13 and 14 August, at 5.30pm. Petar is from Macedonia – from a town called Bitola, Macedonia’s second-largest city. An actor since the age of eight, he trained in his own country and in Bulgaria, at Sofia’s National Academy of Theatre and Film Art. He came to live and work in London six years ago.
In 2012 he performed The Beautiful, as a fifteen minute piece, in the Old Vic Tunnels, which at the time were used for a wide range of shows and performance art. That performance was the embryo of what will be presented at the Tristan Bates, as TheatrelandTalks discovered when we met Petar Miloshevski to discuss his work.
- The Beautiful got an amazing response at the Tunnels last year. It now runs for an hour, so it’s a much longer piece…
It is. The performance I gave was the starting point for what is now The Beautiful at the Tristan Bates theatre, but it was simply the origin, the inspiration. Just as artists might take a small sketch to create a full canvas, or a simple melody to build a symphony. It was the idea behind the title of the show that I wanted to develop.
- You tend to work in solo shows, which are variously described – for example, on the Continent one-man shows tend to be described as mono drama. What term would you use and how would you categorise your style?
There’s no straightforward term over here to describe what I do. Just as Pina Bausch called her work something different – it wasn’t ‘modern dance’, it was ‘dance theatre’, so my work is also different: if I had to define it I’d say it was theatre with heightened physicality. The movement isn’t dance but it is choreographed. While I draw on a lot of sources, I get my main inspiration from music.
- And your preference for being in solo shows?
They’re the best way to express myself. It’s through them that I get the maximum delight from my profession, my vocation, as a theatre maker.
- But what’s behind that impulse to make theatre?
I’m curious to explore why people behave in a certain way. Why they commit good or bad acts. Everything in us is so deeply rooted. Where does anger come from? You need to search for the root cause for every character’s action, for their response in every situation in any given space.
Petar’s previous show, Hope, won a clutch of awards, including ‘An Award for the Transmission of Impulses of the Human Soul in the Language of Movement and Poetry’ – possibly the most poetic award category ever invented – at the International Chamber Theatre Festival in Hanover, Germany, earlier this year. But back to The Beautiful…
- It’s an intriguing title.
That’s the idea! Is it because the character looks beautiful, or has a beautiful experience, or is searching for the nature of beauty?
- In its earlier version it was about someone obsessed with beauty yet who was falling apart – physically, mentally, morally…
That’s right. The character is trapped in a world of his own creation. He can’t see what his actions are doing to him. The irony of his situation is beyond his grasp.
- The show may be solo but it is multi-media?
That can be a misleading term. It’s multi-layered. I use texts by people as varied as Rimbaud, Bulgakov and Plath. The lighting plays a vital part, as does music – and movement.
- How do you treat the texts?
They’re integrated into the performance but in an unexpected way. I might change the gender of the person, or the tense (past to present, for example) or the situation they’re in. The progression is an idea, followed by research to get appropriate texts, then making something new of and with them.
- In Hope you were simply dressed. In The Beautiful you have a stunning costume.
Yes! It’s by Antonella Petraccaro-Gysler. It needed to be beautiful, for obvious reasons, but it has also been designed to distort the character’s body, to make him more mysterious, to remove misconceptions about what the character should look like, to blur the sense of who he really is.
- Other than the clothes design, you’re credited for everything else: writer, actor, music, lighting, direction – and set!
That’s why these shows are hard work! But the reason I create and perform them is I want to get my theatrical ideas across to an audience and I have a very strong – and individual – sense of how to achieve that.
- But you do have a producer?
Kerry Irvine. I’m delighted to work with her–and Antonella. Kerry came to see an early performance of Hope and fell in love with it. She came round to the dressing room after the show and said ‘I have to produce this show!’
- So at least that’s one thing you don’t have to worry about!
I want to concentrate on my work – and my relationship with the audience.
- Given your background and that you’ve continued to perform in Europe, do you find audiences over there very different from English ones?
I find their attention very different! When I was in Kiev earlier in the year, for example, everyone was completely focussed on what was happening on stage. No unwrapping sweets or munching crisps. It was very hot, but people didn’t even swig from bottles of water. The contrast with England is very marked. The way people behave is extraordinary. I feel like shouting out ‘Who’s in charge here!’ It’s madness.
- So, no crisps at your show?
The Beautiful is a very intense experience – which is why we’re not letting latecomers in. I hope people will be focussed on what the character on stage is going through – not whether they feel like another sweet!
- And how would you sum this up?
The Beautiful imparts a sense of beauty with a sense of dissociation: of a deranged, obsessed person who disintegrates, as a person, before our eyes. It’s also about the subtlety of existence – trying to perform as easily as possible. Especially when you are playing someone who is confused, who is going mad, it’s all the more important that the ideas you are trying to get across come over very easily. Even in deranged moments, the idea they express must be as effortless as a feather floating in the air.
- Madness can be fascinating, or frightening. Is this show unique in making it beautiful?
It’s certainly unique, but what matters in any piece of theatre is not whether it’s beautiful – or ugly, or challenging. What matters is whether it moves you. I hope that that’s what The Beautiful does.
Hope, an original devised creation, powerfully portrayed the tumultuous moods of an isolated character, a remarkable Petar Miloshevski. Merging excerpts from emotionally fraught and revered texts facilitated Miloshevski’s incredibly dynamic and capable performance and acting skills. The demands of a physically and emotionally varied performance were met spectacularly as Miloshevski possessed a myriad of capable poise and sensitivity, merging supreme ability with both spoken and physical acting.
The Macedonian-born performer fluidly mastered feminine characteristics, sensually regaling a story of befallen love before lurching under the table a growling as a deranged, caged man. Flitting faultlessly between sensitivity and lunacy the performance crossed a wild spectrum from erotically charged to mania. The only shortfalls of the Milohevski’s entrancing act were moments of undefined diction and camp performance choice.
Kudos must be attributed to lighting technician Kristen Gilmore. Light strength faded and intensified revealing the changing position of Miloshevski on his lone piece of setting, a large wooden table. Strong white lights cast the solo performer menacingly in half-shadow when playing a depraved creature. Similarly, atmospheric blues and reds concentrated the stage in a reflection of the passion and morose content of Hope achieving a conspicuous atmosphere integral to the piece.
Hope suffered somewhat from a lack of dramatic empathy; whilst technically marvellous both in arrangement and performance, the piece needed to push beyond the audience barrier to produce affecting sentiment. We were undoubtedly witnessing the loan demise of an individual caught in his own pathos, the potential to truly disarm the audience, plummeting them into the demise, was sorely missed. The effect of adopted devices, such as striking single red glove and a two-chaired dining table, were interesting yet could have been utilised more. Miloshevski, for instance, could have more pointedly engaged with an empty chair (an invisible interlocutor) to strengthen his tremendously well-performed soliloquies.
Aesthetically engaging, nigh on faultlessly performed and intelligently devised, Hope was a somersaulting display of devised fringe theatre. Selected passages from literary classics and replicating famed styles contributed to an intelligent production. Hope was paradoxically hindered by the stalwart technical precision, the audience were spectators as opposed to engaged participants in a shared experience. I was unsure whether this alienation was intentional. Nevertheless, this is piece of theatre that was original, featuring an extraordinary performance from Petar Miloshevski. I highly anticipate Quirkas’ next production.
This intense 45 minute one-man performance by Macedonian Petar Miloshevski was also conceived and written by him. It's a combination of words, mime, dramatic lighting and music with the minimal props of one table and two chairs. It was followed by a Q&A session with the likeable author/performer.
The text, we are told, is a compilation, not always recognisable, by Checkhov, Strindberg, Shakespeare, Buchner, Tarkovsky and Dukovski with performance styles inspired by David Lynch, Ingmar Bergman, Checkov and Jerzy Grotowsky.
This was never going to be light entertainment, but should all this information matter, or should the performance stand on its own merits? I'm in favour of the latter and, rest assured, from that position, this tale of love, pain, death, paranoia, sex, drugs and no rock'n roll works.
Petar is a compelling performer: lithe, athletic, expressive, varying from minimal movement to exaggerated. He performs on, under, around the table, using it as his world.
Not always easy to follow, it nevertheless commands attention.
Hope has been performed around Europe, won awards, and Petar has received invitations to perform it in Russia and Belarus. His next planned piece, commissioned by The Old Vic Tunnels will be based on Gabriel Marquez' One Hundred Days of Solitude.
This may not be everyone's idea of an evening out at the theatre, but it certainly fills an important niche and was well attended at Bath Spa University Theatre, and well appreciated.
Hope is the story of a lone character who is involved in a very peculiar love-triangle that takes him on a journey of fear, intrigue, darkness and eventually murder.
What is new and different about it?
Anyone visiting the theatre in the last ten years on a regular basis has become aware of the increasing use of technologies – both visual and acoustic – that in different ways 'mediate' the theatrical experience. In "Hope" nothing of this exists. Just the actor with a huge solid-wood dinning table only (which eventually assumes not just the role of a table, but the shape of a stage, prison, dancing spot, execution stake - according to the particular states the character is going through), and two different chairs symbolising each lover. As if suggesting an underlying reference to 'the last supper'. Everything starts, develops and finishes on, or around the table.
The 'invisible nexus' between the parts that form the storyline of the only character of "Hope" are represented through certain gestures - the hands as a centre-point and a basis from which all the happening evolves and makes its own progress. Hands that stroke, hands that hug, hands that are capable to give love, hands that hold a knife, hands that commit a murder, hands that are trying to get rid of the blood stains on them, hands that would eventually hold a drink and a cigarette, hands that would cover the face of their proprietor - as a sign of shame, a sign of anguish, a sign of non-existence.
What would one of your rehearsals look and sound like?
I had chosen kind of a 'secretive' rehearsing process for this show. Having the task to direct myself, something that I haven't done before in a full-scale show, it was totally necessary for me to create a space and surrounding that would be absolutely cleansed of outer presence and energy. I needed an absolute concentration and dedication to every single moment - trying to be a person so far away from my own personal life experience. Paying attention for every detail - even the most trifle one - because everything is essential in this show, the movement of the small finger has its own story to tell.
What is the story behind this season of work and how did it come to be?
Determined to develop a solo performance, I started browsing through a wide range of dramatic texts, trying to find the 'proper' way of representing myself as a practitioner and of conveying my understanding of theatre. But strangely, the more I read, the more a totally different idea began unconsciously to take its own shape and meaning.
Exploring these different texts as if I ignored this constantly progressing notion about a person, that is involved in a very peculiar love-triangle and eventual murder.
I started taking excerpts from dramaturgy I had read to compile a brand new script. In the same way as a person constructs a letter - a collage of newspaper-cuttings, with its own meaning, its own storyline.
The script was designed to take us through the character’s journey towards an absolute breakdown of his inner personality, eventually leading to a fatal outcome for him.
What is your favourite theatre show, excluding your own of course?
I admire theatre that is 'free-minded' enough to take me to other dimensions, other worlds, other states of the humanity, nature, reality, that I don't know they exist.
I could be a fan of any kind of theatre, starting from Ancient Greek, through Shakespeare, Chekhov, down to the 'sculpturing-like' theatre of Bob Wilson, the eclectic notions of Pina Bausch... - so long this theatre is honest, first to itself, and then to the audience.
If I can point a few examples, that would be Julie Taymor's staging of Stravinsky's opera "Oedipus Rex" in Tokyo - an ultimate theatre fest, incorporating so many elements: ancient theatre detail, puppetry, masks, costumes and set-design that go beyond everything known, body motion and stage movement so captivating, that could provoke a kind of a 'trans' in the audience...
Of course, I wouldn't forget Pina Bausch's "Rite of the Spring", "Cafe Muller", "Kontakthoff - for lady and gents over 65"...
Generally, telling simple stories which stand above our known surrounding. Because that is the point of theatre - to represent its world at least one idea higher above the known reality.
"I am not thinking about the prize, the biggest reward for me is that after 6 years I am going to perform once again in front of my home audience", said the actor Petar Miloshevski before his performance at the Festival of Monodrama in Bitola. Nevertheless the jury decided to give the award for Complete Acting Achievement to the Bitola-born actor, who now lives and works in London, for his performance in the solo-show "Hope", performed in English.
Born in Bitola, Petar Miloshevski took his first acting steps as a boy in his native city ("Our Lady of Paris", "The Merry Wives of Windsor"). He then studied at the National Academy of Theatre and Film Art in Sofia, and after his graduation worked for two years at the Blagoevgrad Theatre. He became one of the theatre’s busiest actors, but, in his words, at a certain moment he realised that he might have "reached the ceiling." - "The dilemma was to continue hitting my head on the ceiling, or to make a radical change. I chose the second and went to London on my own, without an invitation from anyone ... Eventually I applied (and was accepted on my first attempt) for a Master’s degree course at the Central School of Speech and Drama, one of the most established theatre schools in London, where people like Judi Dench or Kristin Scott Thomas graduated from”...
The play "Hope" - which is currently performed in Bitola, was also performed last year at the MOT Theatre Festival in Skopje. It is his graduation show. During his studies Petar experimented with different site-specific solo-performances - currently a very popular form of theatre in England. However, he took the firm decision of graduating from Central with a monodrama, motivated by the idea of being alone on stage, bearing the full weight and responsibility for the exchange of energy with the audience. He couldn’t find a text which could cover the full expressive range he was looking for, so decided to make a new one. "Hope" is a compilation of extracts borrowed from several authors: Chekhov (the short story "The lady with the lap-dog"), Dukovski ("Who the Fuck Started All This?"), Georg Buchner ("Woyzeck"), Strindberg ("Miss Julie"), Shakespeare ("Macbeth"), as well as poetry by Andrei Tarkovsky’s father, Arseni Tarkovsky. - " The graduation show was a success and my course-leader told me just one thing - that he had only seen such a precise attention to detail with photographers and architects, but never before with an actor. I play a lot with the details in "Hope" – the hands, the gaze... The narrative in the show is about a person who is in a love triangle. I was primarily interested in how that person goes through metamorphoses, all the emotions - past, present and future – and in telling the story in a dislocated, non-chronological way.
"Hope" has been performed in a number of venues in London, as well as festivals. After the first performance staged outside Central School, the production company "Quirkas" offered Petar to produce "Hope". - "In that moment comes great financial relief, that's how it works in London. Each show premiered is being seen by agents and producers and it's a major devlopment if someone offers to produce it. In England the subsidies for culture and arts have been severely reduced by the government and that situation is now having its effect on theatres, art galleries, and libraries. Art patronage is now the main source of financial support". Currently he is hoping for good news regarding a production offer for a new play in London, where he plays the leading role of Nijinsky, one of the greatest choreographers in the history of world ballet. The play deals with the complete cultural revolution triggered by Nijinsky's choreography of Stravinsky's ballet "The Rite of the Spring" in 1912 in Paris, in which he broke all the conventions of classical ballet. Meanwhile Petar is looking for a new job, such are the rigors of day-to-day survival in London – actors, after every completed project, are once again unemployed, and the chance for getting new roles is through constant auditioning. Until recently he worked in the music store of the English National Opera, which featured an archive of opera recordings, some of them even a hundred years old - from before the days of gramophone records, recorded on a high magnetic tapes, and eventually digitalised on CD. "I became an expert in opera, I know who the conductors or the singers are in a recording, only after the first listening," jokes Miloshevski.
Later this month, before returning to London, he also performed "Hope" on the stage of the Veles Theatre. He will get to see the Bitola Theatre company on the stage of "Shakespeare's Globe" with "Henry VI". - "It is a fantastic promotion opportunity for Macedonian culture - he said, adding that he often feels like an isolated ambassador in England because he is always presented as a Macedonian actor during debates or after his performances."
From his country, however, he still has not received an offer to play in a theatre project. - "If I get an offer in Macedonia, I probably wouldn't refuse, but as I haven't received one, I am concentrating entirely on my London life and career. Otherwise, I come to Bitola for two weeks every year, this is where my family is. However I haven't lived in Macedonia for 11 years, so I find myself looking at the affairs of this country through slightly romantic spectacles. I don't attend the current developments of this society, as if some of the issues are beginning to elude me."
Writes: Rumena Ravanovska-Tulbevska Photo: Igor Todorovski
English translation moderated by: Gaetan Le Divelec