Legendary Theatre Play Refuses Zagreb Assembly Award

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The “Exercises in Style” team rejects the Zagreb City Assembly’s humiliating award.

The creative team of the “Exercises in Style”, the world’s longest-running theatre play with the same cast, has refused a 10,000 kuna award given to them by the City of Zagreb Assembly, reports Jutarnji List on March 23, 2018.

In a letter sent to members of the Assembly yesterday, they wrote that their decision was made because of unacceptable behaviour towards the play, which has been being played for 50 years, and also as a sign of solidarity with the producer Marko Torjanac, who proposed the award and was then heavily criticised for it.

This is the final chapter of the story which started at the beginning of this year when Torjanac proposed to the Assembly to award a prize of 150,000 kuna to the creative team. However, the proposal was rejected and, in the end, a 10,000 kuna award was given. Although Torjanac, who is also a member of the Assembly, told his colleagues that it was better not to give anything than such a small amount, they rejected his advice.

“The amount allocated demonstrates a shameful attitude toward culture and is an inadequate reward for four artists who are creators of one of the greatest achievements of the Croatian culture and the City of Zagreb. After my proposal, Assembly Speaker Andrija Mikulić (HDZ) and Assembly Member Zlatko Hasanbegović (former Culture Minister) have accused me of proposing the award so that I could receive part of the money. From the very beginning, I suggested how the money should be distributed, and it was clear that not a single kuna would go to the theatre or to me,” said Torjanac.

He added that, when proposing to allocate 150,000 kuna, he immediately stated that the amount should be distributed just among the creative team members. Although Mayor Milan Bandić said that they should meet and find a solution, that did not happen.

“The idea was that the Assembly, whose members are representatives of all citizens, should give artists an acknowledgement. It is nice that the Mayor tried to offer a solution, but they could not accept it. With this decision, the Assembly has left an indelible negative imprint on the history of our culture. This is a warning about how people should not behave towards the culture of this city,” concluded Torjanac.

Translated from Jutarnji List (reported by Zrinka Korljan).


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