The Yugoslav Drama Theatre (YDT) was founded in 1947 with the aim of attracting the cream of the dramatic talent from all over the FNRY, and of being the Yugoslav counterpart to the Moscow Art Theatre in terms of style and aesthetic quality. Supported by politicians and leading cultural figures, director Bojan Stupica selected the most notable artists from all the theatrical centres of Yugoslavia. The first premiere was held on April 3rd 1948. Bojan Stupica put on ‘The King of Betainov’ by Ivan Cankar.
The concept for the theatre laid down by politicians was only partially adhered to, whilst from the very beginning in its practical work artistic freedom was championed and the aesthetic credibility of directors and actors was supported. The managers of the Yugoslav Drama Theatre always belonged to the circle of the most notable and most competent of those working in the theatre, regardless of whether they came from the ranks of critics (Velibor Gligoric, Milutin Micic, Petar Volk), dramatists (Jovan Cirilov) or directors (Miroslav Belovic, Bojan Stupica). When creating the repertoire, managers of the YDT initially favoured great world and national classics, but over the course of the 50s they gradually introduced works from contemporary world and national dramaturgy.
Directors at the Yugoslav Drama Theatre always stood out for their new and inventive interpretations of the classics of world and national dramaturgy, through which they were changing the notion of theatre in our country. One can recall Bojan Stupica’s interpretation of ‘Dundo Maroje’ by Marin Drzic and ‘Fisherman’s Quarrel’ by Carlo Goldoni and Mate Milosevic’s direction of ‘Yegor Bulychov’ by Maksim Gorky and ‘Grieving Family’ by Branislav Nusic. There was also Miroslav Belovic’s direction of ‘The Boastful Soldier’ by Plaut and ‘Dundo Maroje’ by Marin Drzic, and then Dejan Mijac’s direction of ‘High Sea’ by Branislav Nusic, ‘Patriots’ by Jovan Sterija Popovic and ‘Le Misanthrope’, ‘Hamlet’ directed by Stevo Zigon, and ‘The Theatre of Illusions’ by Pierre Cornier directed by Slobodan Unkovski. The stage of the Yugoslav Drama Theatre was the place where leading directors from all over Yugoslavia tested their skills: Branko Gavela, Paolo Madeli, Slobodan Unkovski, Haris Pasovic, etc., as well as numerous foreign directors: Jezi Jarocki, Georgij Aleksandrovic – Tovstonogov, Karlos Medina, Vitalij Dvorcin…
Even at a time of great social turmoil, the Yugoslav Drama Theatre welcomed significant works by contemporary writers from all over Yugoslavia. The following authors and their works were promoted at the YDT: Dobrica Cosic – ‘Discoveries’, Jovan Hristic -’Clean hands’ and ‘Savaranola and his friends’, Velimir Lukic – ‘Innocent Anabella’s affair’, Slobodan Schneider – ‘Croatian Faustus’, Dusan Kovacevic ‘Balkan Spy’, Dejan Bukovski – ‘Powder Keg’, Biljana Srbljanovic -’Belgrade trilogy’. Our performances of their plays were enacted at the Bonner Bienale, the starting poing of their European recognition.
An unavoidable part of the history of the YDT is also the story of the great actors who performed on this stage.The reputation and success of the Yugoslav Drama Theatre was acknowledged at numerous international and domestic festivals and on guest performances. The Yugoslav Drama Theatre toured not only around Yugoslavia but around the whole of Europe as well, and in doing so it confirmed its international and European dimensions.