Monthly Archives: October 2015

 As I write this it’s a cool sunny day in Zemun. I’m sitting by the water eating one more heavy Balkan lunch, and I’ve never felt more exhausted in my life. 11 wrestling sessions in 15 days, topped off by a raucous gig at KC Grad last night. Not exactly trench warfare but I’ve felt like I was operating at my limits for the whole time.

 I know I’ve been circumspect about the nature of my project, if you’re wondering exactly WHY I felt the need to come here and do this then trust me, your polite bemusement has been shared by my gracious hosts. All I can say at this point is that I came here still not sure if there was really an effective piece of theatre to be made by me about wrestling, and now I’m positive that there is.
I couldn’t have done it without my endlessly generous hosts, both at the wrestling club and at KC Grad, without a doubt the most inspiring arts venue I’ve ever seen.

 Speaking of KC Grad, my set there last night was an absolute highlight of my performing life and that was largely thanks to my new friend llija Ludvig. llija is a Belgrade local and a singer/songwriter of rare vitality and talent. He’s also a huge presence on stage and off. Our collaboration was brokered by Ljudmila at KC Grad llija agreed to help me put a set together without meeting me first, and with one rehearsal he was playing my songs better than I do. I was lucky enough to see him play his own set twice while I was here, and I can’t wait to track his output in the future.  As for the wrestling, I don’t know how to encapsulate the experience of training the sport of I love, in a language I don’t know, to a level of intensity I’ve never experienced (but which I run-of-the-mill for my hosts). Luckily my whole project hangs on me eventually working out how to do so. Here is a photo of me with my main training partner Miljane at the end of my final session, my bedragglement probably speaks for itself.

 Nick here, saluting you from Sunnyish Serbia! I’m here for a 3 weeks as artist-in-residence for KC Grad, a simply delightful multi-arts venue who are acting as my patron and guide to the wonders of my grandfathers’ culture.
So this is the first time I’ve had to resort to taking my own photos on an arts trip, and my shortcomings have swiftly become apparent, as this poorly framed shot of Tvoje Lice Mi Je Pozano, the currant KC Grad installation work, attests:

 I’m here to train with a Serbian wrestling club, write about the experience and interview the wrestlers, as research for a multi-year theatre project. I know that may sound like I’ve used my status as a theatre-maker to wrangle a cheap wrestling camp for myself, but I assure you that that’s only part of what’s going on here. This will likely be the most personal project I’ve ever done, and considering how self-indulgent my art usually is that’s saying something.

The indie-arts scene here is vibrant and unique, and I’m trying to see as many gigs and events as my post-training fatigue will allow for. So far my hot music tips are an electro act called Lira Vega and a wonderful experimental noise artist called Svetlana Maras. I’ll do another update toward the end of my trip, providing I survive training!