Between the lines: Actress Gina Landor on the political relevance of The Croatian Faust, Slobodan Snajder's 1982 play

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The Independent Culture
Actor: Here, on the stage, there is so much blood that it's slippery.

Commissioner: Eh, yes: the theatre needs a little blood. Once in Osijek they slaughtered a pig on stage, for Shakespeare. The theatre, my friend, is a bloody business.

Actor: Not another word]

'The Croatian Faust' by Slobodan Snajder

'Theatre is vital and necessary for me. But like many actors, I sometimes step back and question its power and the power of the word.

'This play is based on true events. The star of a theatre in Zagreb, playing the leading role in Goethe's Faust for an audience of Nazi officers and sympathisers, finds his role intolerable and leaves the theatre to join the partisans. Another actor in the company who opposes the new regime is hanged. This extract comes at the end of the play when the leading actor comes back to the theatre after the war.

'Today, in Belgrade and Zagreb, actors, writers and directors are being persecuted for their open opposition to their governments and the war, and there is blood on the stages of Sarajevo. The artists in that city face an immediate, dangerous and agonising question. Is there a place for theatre amidst such slaughter? Some say no. And some continue to work in an attempt to nourish and preserve the human spirit, against all odds. And audiences continue to attend.'

Gina Landor presents a three-day festival of 'Plays From the Countries of the Former Yugoslavia' at the Tricycle Theatre, London NW6 from 2-4 August (071-328 1000).

(Photograph omitted)