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Iva Brdar

RULE OF THE THUMB

Directed by: Bojan Đorđev
Stage Design: Siniša Ilić
Costumes: Maja Mirković
Original Music: Luka Papić
Stage Movement: Čarni Đerić
The rules of the race are clear: you can travel exclusively by hitchhiking! No money. No phone. No self-defence weapons. The winner is the team which reaches the destination first! If the destination even exists…Or teams… Or victory? Rule of the Thumb is one of the most intriguing new texts written in the Serbian language. In this play, the audience follows a strange journey of hitchhiking women and gets to know random drivers who offer them rides. Using the road movie narrative structure, Rule of the Thumb takes us on a journey through the world of neoliberal capitalism. The play won the first prize for contemporary drama text on the last year’s dramatic competition of the Sterijino Pozorje festival, as well as the Brücke Berline Theaterpreise prize for 2018. The play had public readings in Berlin, New York and Šabac; it was staged in Stuttgart and New York, and adapted into a radio drama broadcasted in Paris. This is its first production in the original language.

CAST: ANA – Ivana Terzić; MONIKA – Kristina Pajkić; WOMAN – Aneta Tomašević; YOUNG MAN – Strahinja Barović; POLICEMAN – Vladimir Milojević; DEAD DOG – Čarni Đerić; MAN WITHOUT A FINGER – Slobodan Petranović

ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Marko Ribić

PHOTOGRAPHY: Jugoslav Radojević

GRAPHIC DESIGN: Kombinart

CO-PRODUCED BY: Šabac City Theatre and Sterijino Pozorje Festival

STAGE MANAGER: Zorica Stevanović

PUBLIC RELATIONS: Jelena Ivetić

TECHNICAL MANAGER: Radivoj Kostadinović

PAINTWORK: Rade Stanković

CARPENTRY WORKS: Borivoj Čeivanović

METALWORK: Mihailo Brezina

SOUND MASTER: Kosta Pavlović

LIGHTING MASTER: Luka Popović, Miodrag Popović

ELECTRIC WORKS: Luka Popović

MAKE-UP AND HAIR: Gordana Barović

TAILORING WORKS: Dragica Vujković, Zlatomir Nenadović

WARDROBE: Biljana Kostadinović, Danijela Dragojević

PROPS: Mirjana Neziri

DECORATORS: Čedomir Vučinić, Ivan Jovanović, Josip Ucaj, Mladen Simić

We thank Photo Nera

IVA BRDAR finished studies of dramaturgy at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts in Belgrade and theatre studies at the faculty Sorbonne Nouvele Paris 3. For her play Rule of the Thumb, she received the Brücke Berline Theaterpreise prize for 2018, under the patronage of Herta Müller and an award of the Sterijino Pozorje Festival. For her drama Pelargoniums Can Survive Anything, she was awarded the Heartefact Fund’s prize for the best engaged text of 2018. Her plays were translated to English, German and French.

WORDS OF THE AUTHOR
ON THE PLAY’S ORIGIN OR HOW WE CAUGHT THE STUCK OUT THUMBS

It was an extremely rainy spring weekend. Extravagantly rainy. One of those when your only chance to survive is to ignore it altogether in the safety of your home. However, in the existential constellation conditioned by overtime work, where every weekend was perceived as the only opportunity to neutralise those five stressful working days, to remedy all misunderstandings and, of course, to take break from the eternal indecision when it comes to selecting the delivery lunch – Caucasus Salad, protein burger Hulk, or vegan Hungarian goulash with smoked tofu – the weekend meant the world to us.

So we took off. The hiking weekend was as we had expected – rainy, preposterous and entirely necessary. On our way back, through the unrelenting rain, we barely saw a pair of hitching thumbs. Two girls from Poland entered our car. They had hitchhiked from Krakow to Buljarice (!), (also) through the rain, and spent there merely one day (!). They defeated us. These two were the official winners of the absurd weekend trip competition. Then they explained to us the allure of the Montenegrin summer resort of Buljarice during the wet season.

From time to time in Krakow, a competition was organised in hitchhiking to a randomly chosen destination. Each pair of hitchhikers was assigned a number. The main rule was: money must not be used for either transport or accommodation. The only legitimate way to reach the destination was to hitchhike and sleep in a tent, and the pair to reach the destination first won. The competition was based on the highly developed Polish tradition of hitchhiking – from 1958 to 1990, hitchhiking had been a state project in Poland, supported by the National Tourist Association. All hitchhikers had their ID numbers and security cards, while the drivers taking them in received coupons for basic goods in return.

The two of them had arrived seventh to Buljarice, so now they were hurrying back to Krakow, since the working week was about to start in a couple of hours. To me they were still victorious. We left them at a gas station. The rain was still pouring, of course, while Monday and Hungarian goulash with tofu drew so harrowingly close.

Iva Brdar

BOJAN ĐORĐEV is a theatre director born in Belgrade in 1977. He was educated in the field of theatre and art theory at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts and University of Arts in Belgrade, as well as in DasArt in Amsterdam. Except in Belgrade, his works were shown in Berlin, Brussels, Amsterdam, New York, Shanghai, Vienna, Zurich, Seoul, Zagreb, Rijeka, Ljubljana… He staged texts by T. Šljivar, G. Ferčec, I. Sajko, H. Guilbert, E. Jelinek, J. Joyce, F. Kafka, as well as three operas, including Les Enfants Terribles by J. Cocteau/P. Glass. In addition to dramatic theatre he is inspired by interdisciplinary performance based on text/language, as well as critical theory. He was a member of the collective of editors and a co-founder of the platform The Walking Theory (Teorija koja Hoda) and the TkH Magazine for the theory of performative arts from 2001 to 2017. For a number of years now, he has cooperated on artistic and other projects with visual artist Siniša Ilić, costume designer Maja Mirković and stage movement advisor Čarni Đerić, and recently also with musician and film author Luka Papić.

WORDS OF THE DIRECTOR
NOTES FOR READING RULE OF THE THUMB
A FAIRY TALE

MONIKA
Ana
Lift that thumb
And stop someone normal for a change
And don’t stop
Unmarried
Unemployed
Homeless

Rule of the Thumb is a modern road fairy tale. The episodic structure of a journey is characteristic of many fairy tales. Such a journey, on which protagonists encounter different characters – i.e. witch, prince, hunter, wolf, monster, or shade from the world of the dead, in this case takes place on a Serbian highway. In a fairy tale, each episode, encounter, obstacle is a step in maturing, a lesson, or a rite of passage from one social, physical, or spiritual form of existence to another. Ana and Monika embark on their journey to take part in a hitchhiking contest taking them from the north of Europe to its south. Their rite of passage is a confrontation with the world which they live in, its dividedness, its cruel dialectics which become obvious on the road – they face eviction, unemployment, deterioration of universal healthcare and industry in a typical society on the periphery of capitalism.

THREE JOURNEYS

Journey occurs in the play in three forms. As a pastime, an escape from daily routine and a way to have valuable new experiences through encountering unknown people and places – this is the way Ana and Monika start their journey. Another type of journey is moving due to inertia, comparable to a hamster running in the wheel, travelling as an illusion of change and moving to mask and anesthetise the unbearable stasis, or to put it in traffic terminology – congestion. This is the manner in which the characters that the hitchhikers meet travel. The third type of journey which occurs in the end, is existential journey, a long-lasting and painstaking escape, the journey of migrants from south to north, from east to west. All three types of journey are components of the dialectics of the world we live in. Moreover, in order for someone to be a tourist, someone must run or walk in place, while someone else must be in flight.

THREE THUMBS

ANA
I always wanted
To ride in a police car
Without a particular reason, I think
I’m not much of a rebel
But I always found it attractive
To be in danger
And yet to know that I’m actually not

The climax of the play is the “impossible” encounter of two thumbs, which ends up in a worker’s murder. The first thumb is the stuck out thumb of a hitchhiker. The second is literally discarded, cut away, as in the famous case from 2009, when Zoran Bulatović, a textile worker of the “Raška” factory from Novi Pazar cut out his thumb during a strike. However, the third, maybe the most important thumb of today’s world is also worthy of consideration – the like symbol of Facebook. This ever-present thumb that we “stick out unsparingly, without hesitation, whenever and wherever we can…”, apart from constituting a powerful shackle of modern digital slavery – where each conscious and unconscious like we give is sold at some new slave markets – is also the symbol of new alienation and “hygienic” detachment of modern sociality, participation and, first and foremost, politicality, from bodily contact and presence. This is perhaps why the encounter of Ana and Monika with the people they stop by sticking out their biological rather than digital thumb, is so exciting, exotic and fun, and finally so traumatic and devastating.

MONIKA
CAN THIS FINALLY STOP
CAN’T SOMEONE SIMPLY
FUCKING TAKE US IN FOR A RIDE
WITHOUT DETOURS
WITHOUT PROBLEMS
JUST TAKE US DOWN THIS ROAD
AND LEAVE US SOMEWHERE
WHEREVER THEY FIND FIT
IS THIS AN OPTION
WE DON’T ASK FOR MUCH
JUST A GOOD OLD
FUCKING RIDE

MAN
I think that what you want is
Too much

Bojan Đorđev