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Branko Golubović

LETTERS FROM AFGHANISTAN

Directed by: Ivan Tomašević
Dramatization: Ivan Velisavljević
Cast: Nikola Breković
Musicians: Milan Katanić, Milan Stanković
Letters from Afghanistan is a book published in 2009 by the Šabac Summer Festival, which has had a cult following in Šabac ever since. It is based on the e-mails that Branko Golubović was sending to his friends and family while he worked for the Italian NGO “Intersos”, a part of the peacekeeping forces in Afghanistan. In his letters, he presented everyday life and culture of Afghanistan, in a smart, direct and often quite humorous way. Due to his authentic writing style, but also the fact that the life of Branko Golubović, a regional punk star, in this distant and strange country sparked avid interest, his letters became viral – they circulated around the internet and reached many readers, even before the book’s publication. This is a play based on those letters, but also about those letters. In it, Serbia meets Afghanistan, and Šabac meets Jalalabad… And at the meeting point one question: who here is “uncivilised”, wild, exotic, or distant? This is also a play about the encounter between members of two generations of Šabac residents. It starts with Johnny – a young actor from Šabac – finally meeting Branko Golubović Golub, his teenage idol. Their meeting is also an encounter between theatre and music, so Letters from Afghanistan is hybrid in form, a combination of theatre and punk-rock. This is a performative travelogue, as well as the living monument to the Šabac rock-n-roll tradition; the play for all the “Goblini” enthusiasts and the fans of Branko Golubović and his work. …

NIKOLA BREKOVIĆ (Šabac, 1990) is an actor and musician. He studied acting under Jug Radivojević in Bijeljina, where he also played his first roles. Since 2014, he regularly performs in the Šabac Theatre, where he played his most prominent roles in the productions of Long Nights, Black Flags, Mite, Auditor for South-East and Life is a Dream. He plays drums and his first band “Gremlini” was a tribute band to the famous Šabac punk rock band “Goblini”. This band accompanied Branko Golubović when he was touring Serbia and promoting Letters from Afghanistan. Since their tour in spring 2009, Nikola Breković has had a wish to stage this book as a monodrama. Ten years later, this wish was fulfilled.

Directed by: Ivan Tomašević
Dramatized by: Ivan Velisavljević
Cast: Nikola Breković
Musicians: Milan Katanić, Milan Stanković
Music: Goblini
Arrangements: MOON and Nikola Breković
Expert collaborator: Stevan Marinković
Costumes: Selena Tomašević
Editing of the video footage: Darko Pavlović
Graphic design: Kombinart
Stage Manager and Prompter: Zorica Stevanović
Public relations: Jelena Ivetić
Technical Manager: Radivoj Kostadinović
Sound Master: Kosta Pavlović
Light master: Luka Popović
Paintwork: Rade Stanković
Carpentry works: Borivoj Čeivanović
Metalwork: Mihailo Brezina
Tailoring works Zlatomir Nenadović, Dragica Vujković
Electrician: Miodrag Popović
Wigs and Make-up: Gordana Barović
Wardrobe: Biljana Kostadinović, Danijela Dragojević
Props: Mirjana Neziri
Decorators: Čedomir Vučinić, Josip Ucaj, Ivan Jovanović, Mladen Simić

BRANKO GOLUBOVIĆ (Šabac, 1968) is best known to the general public as the frontman of the Šabac punk band “Goblini”. He founded this band in 1992, together with Alen Jovanović, Vladislav Kokotović and Zoran Jovanović. They issued nine albums, and they held successful concerts all over former Yugoslavia. After their Zagreb concert in 2001, they decided disband, due to the private obligations of the members. Soon afterwards, Branko Golubović, a graduate agricultural engineer, decided to dedicate himself to humanitarian work. He lived and worked in peace missions in former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Georgia, Ethiopia and Jordan.

In the second half of the 1990s, together with Stevan Marinković, he was the author and presenter of the radio show “Black Dwarf Ritual (Ritual crnog patuljka)”, broadcasted by Radio 99 (Šabac Radio II Programme).

“Goblini” reactivated in the summer of 2010, and have since then been one of the most important Serbian and regional bands.

After the book Letters from Afghanistan, Golubović published a book of autobiographical prose entitled Crumpled Thoughts (Izgužvane misli) (Dallas Records, 2018).

WORDS OF THE AUTHOR

For the four years that I spent in Afghanistan, almost fifty humanitarian workers lost their lives, and a dozen was kidnapped. During the four years, I developed immense respect for the people living and working in Afghanistan. Believe me, there is no money that can cushion the blow of being thousands of kilometres away from home, family and friends… Humanitarians are mostly young, bursting with energy and belief in what they are doing. It is this belief that motivates them, not allowing them to be detracted by the negative things they encounter at every step.

Branko Golubović

IVAN TOMAŠEVIĆ, actor and director, principal drama artist of the Šabac City Theatre. He received a number of awards and accolades for his work. Independently from his engagement in the Šabac Theatre, together with actress Aneta Tomašević, he founded an independent theatre troupe named “Scena Maska” in which he facilitates theatrical exploration, as he acts, directs and engages in pedagogical work.

WORDS OF THE DRAMATURGE
STRAIGHT-FROM-THE-SHOULDER TRAVEL GUIDE

Apart from presenting a country in the manner of a travelogue, as controversial as Afghanistan itself, in his letters, Branko Golubović offers something more: an authentic, insider’s look at the often perilous everyday existence. Yet his depiction is ironic, immediate and with a dose of healthy humour.

From his punk rock days spent in the band “Goblini” right down to his peace-keeping days spent in Afghanistan, Branko Golubović preserved his energy, anarchist attitude, his resolution to utter straight-from-the-shoulder truths and to write without mincing his words. Regardless of whether he speaks of cafés, strange nutritional habits that you must obey as a foreigner, or in a manner of a tourist guide points your attention to cultural heritage, climate characteristics, or relationships between sexes, or eventually turns to more provocative subjects of opium, hashish, weapons, political situation and endless armed conflicts (in the author’s words, there are nine wars raging in Afghanistan!), Golubović never loses sight of the situation’s complexity and the paradoxes inherent in both his peace-keeping role and Afghanistan as a country. The most valuable feature of his letters lies exactly in this characteristic and honest perspective on such topical subjects: in writing this unusual travelogue, Golubović uses facts, without embellishing them, or making them more dramatic, but he also provides a deeply personal description of the environment and circumstances he found himself in.

Ivan Velisavljević