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28 April 2020 | Nieuws

The Piket Art Prizes in times of corona (1): Vanja Rukavina

Until 1 June theatremakers, actors, artists and dancers are forced to sit at home. As part of the official measures aimed at keeping the spread of the coronavirus under control, exhibitions are off and performances have been cancelled. What do these measures mean for Piket Art Prizes’ young artists? Part 1: Vanja Rukavina. 

Impact of the measures

“I’m fine, but the whole situation is bizarre,” Vanja Rukavina says. Because of the corona measures he saw the tour of his production LANGUAGE go up in smoke, and Trojan Wars, in which he was also involved, was cancelled before its first night. “The National Theatre is now considering what to do.” The news came like a bolt from the blue, just as Vanja was getting ready for the Trojan Wars premiere which should have taken place on March 14th –two days before, on Thursday 12th, it was announced that major theatre events had to be cancelled. The measure has recently been extended until June 1st. “At first you just don’t believe it. I was in my dressing room, ready for my earphones and make-up. I was fully focused on our try-out. And then we were all summoned to the Royal Theatre’s Main Hall where we were told the news. It’s such a shame! I’m not terribly worried yet, but it’s fucking awful. Arrangements have been made for freelancers, but I’m waiting to see how this turns out. I’m afraid the National Theatre will just abolish the whole season. I hope not, because The Nation is scheduled for June. I suppose we’ll have to be patient, but it would be nice to know where we stand.”

So what now?

“I’m taking it easy, but I do exercise a lot. I realise I’ve just been working for the past few years.” And on the Monday following the bad news, Vanja started at the Academy of Theatre and Dance in Amsterdam. “I’s a 180 degrees turn. I am part of the core team as well as student adviser. As a member of the core team I am involved in the make-up of the teaching program, arranging guest teachers, for instance. I now have more time for that. One of the good things of this whole terrible situation is that it offers you the opportunity to reflect on yourself, on the world, on what’s really important. It forces you to stand still.”

Plans for the future

But as far as Vanja is concerned, standing still doesn’t mean sitting still. “I am working on a new short performance I’m going to do next year with the National Theatre and students of the Amsterdam Academy. It’s all still in its infancy, but it will be about diversity.” The production will focus on the impact of diversity on society. “Was I accepted for the theatre school because of my Bosnian background? I have roots in Gouda as well as in Sarajevo. This is the kind of thing I would like to discuss with the students.” Auditions for the performance will be held later this year.

Vanja Rukavina during rehearsals for Trojan Wars, now cancelled. Photo Bas de Brouwer