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Welcome to the Show

Silent in Montenegro

February 15, 2018

"When did we stop walking, if it's what makes us human? The need to walk often, and walk far, to gather, to discover and expand, when did we stop the need to evolve? It's something we could spent a lifetime waiting for, or... we can stand up and hop on a train even if we don't know exactly where it's headed. That's how you love someone, I guess: when you can't experience anything without wishing the other person is there to see it too. A place we can only dream of, a kingdom fit for Gods. And even though a city's heartbeat has an undeniable pull, its nature always drives us to go further, to find the unfamiliar and wrap ourselves in a cloud of life. Even if that means standing in some of the darkest corners, or seeking out some of our wildest relatives. There are places untouched by time that make you wonder: how we ever got so far away from where we came?"  I remember watching a film once, and I absolutely loved the above intro. It's made  by two independent Spanish film-makers, husband and wife & it was featured on Tour Radar.

 

 Photo (c): Nomaddeea

 

A day after, I was boarding a plane to Montengro, going straight to the town of Ulcinj, via Rome & Podgorica. I remember also feeling like crap, after a sleepless night and a visit to the doctor. And as usual almost missing the plane in the airport. From Rome to Podgorica, the airplane was one of the noisy ones, that bear a touch of the 40's on their unusual helicopter sound. Like, the damn  'diaphragmatic dexterity' of that plane, made you rev your own diafragm  till your eyes popped up and out of their sockets. If you add the beautiful stewards on board, you might have even thought rapture is near. Below the wings, the scenery was more than enticing, with mountains and patches of water here and there. If the plane collapses, I thought ..I'm going down to heaven and I'm throwing a no-doctor party there.

  Photo (c): Nomaddeea

 

In fact, in Montenegro brace yourselves for these 3 things: incredibly beautiful women, savage men, and exactly one road with 2 senses connecting the capital, Podgorica, with the rest of the country. Cast aside the idea you might use a bus, they are always late, and be ready to negotiate your way with a 1.90 m tall taxi man, that might even wink at you a little :)  

Better to rent a car all together. Or a cute boat..

 

 

I ventured in Ulcinj, to learn a few tricks on how to perform by using theatre forum as a tool: how to apply 'the method' using sensual spaces as opposed to "guerrilla" intervention ones.  I was almost at the end of a long row of travels ( or so I imagined then), and I believed I reached my limit of interacting with always new people in creative projects. Burnt out to say the least, that's how I felt. While trying to decide which means of transport I could use to ship myself to the town of Ulcinj, also known as the town of Don Quixote, along came two other girls. Both Italians, Marta, with mauve short hair, nervous and tri-lingual, and a cute blond one, also short haired (& full-time horny), whose name I forgot. Both smokers, of pretty much any type of grass and herbs. Both in the same project as I was and both sharing the same room as I did. Awesome. 

      Photo (c): Nomaddeea

 Photo (c): Benedetta Risolo

 

At the hotel we were greeted by the very hotel owner with a very heart-felt welcome, whom later introduced us to Valet Eddie, that took our luggage away. Ulcinj has some very dusty & traffic jam streets if you don't know where to stay exactly, but as you descend towards the sea it only gets cleaner, and up the mountain you get a free passage to admire all the stunning villas. I mean the view from our hotel was not the greatest, but you could have a drink outside in the street and it created this open-space vibe, that helped a lot with connecting the theatre project teams, which were from all over Europe, plus Turkey.

 

      Photo (c): my fabulous iPad

 

Now I can't seem to decide if this was the worst project I ever did or not. But I think it was. The self made theatre trainers, 2 Romanian chicks were awful. What was even more awful is that I am Romanian too, and I have a hard time working with with my own nation generally. We were debating & and working in strong connection with human rights,  LGBT rights, rroma rights, stereotypes and so on,  learning to creatively  express ourselves, using a variety of more or less complex, but natural means of body story-telling, making use of adaptations of cultural, philosophical and moral stories, cinema cafés, dance & music, role plays & simulations. The construction of puppets, in teams, was quite useful for team-bonding, and  I particularly enjoyed a drill, where we all created a country with a border police game, that was intended at receiving the refugees & "partitioning" them according to their needs. I'm telling you, we played this one hard! And the ones that played the refugees were not in short of improvising complex needs. Aside from this, I hereby declare a total fiasco. If not for the scenery obviously.

   Photo (c): Nomaddeea

 

And the rest of personal dramas going on, with a forever lasting intercultural night. If you are a connoisseur of inter-cultural nights, then you will probably know they are meant to be quick, creative and that everyone aims for the international food & drinks in the end. 

 

We were also "trained" on how to wake up in the morning after a night of herbs and Balkan music on the rock'n roll stick.  It did not matter if you did not participate in the herbs fiesta beach ritual, you still would fail to sleep when the 'balkan herb folks' would return to continue the fiesta in our balcony. Now, the wake up season was performed by Andreea, one of the trainers, a trans-lucid skinned and curly haired woman that would make sure to knock and yell at every single door she knew the participants would be sleeping 'against', as I doubt many actually made it to the bed.

                                         Photo (c): Benedetta Risolo

 

Andreea is also the one that lost her mind when I filmed a session as she said I have no right to film ( which is wrong, usually from these projects there is a stream of films & photos that gushes and floods the virtual space of the internet for as long as a virtual space will exist..and that is to everyone's accord). She is also the one that was scorned by a Turkish girl, during the theatre sessions that were used to sum up the whole experience. The Turkish girl's theatre piece was entitled " Time" and she made good use of a knife while creating a psychedelic rhythm around a table and chanting " time, tiiime, be on time" short- short-long, short-short-long...you know.. just like rehearsing your head voice.

                                       Photo (c): Nomaddeea

 

 Photo (c): Benedetta Risolo

 

This was one of the moments when I really laughed. That's because I was late for this session.  I was out filming in Montenegro so I was prohibited to 'act'  in the session. Filming was a way to brush myself up as I was basically grieving the loss of someone I deeply loved. Break ups are always horrible. Can't think of any break up that feels exhilarating unless is your actual divorce :/ Thank God I found a cat that looked a lot more sad then I did.

 

                                                                     Photo (c): Nomaddeea

 

 Well...and thank the Universe for this view as well..this cat wasn't gazing in vain.. In fact, both me & Marta were late for the last theatre session. We didn't know we escaped the torturous trainers in the same time, and met on top of Ulcinj unexpectedly.

                             Photo (c): unknown tourist

                                

 

Ulcinj is a town that absolutely shocked me, in the most pleasant way possible: I saw mosques and churches right across the street from one another. I also saw sex-shops & lingerie shops at the entrance of a mosque, and Muslims peacefully co-existing with Christians.  So yes, guys! it is possible to co-exist in this world regardless of your religion! In Ulcinj I also spotted the fanciest shops with the best leather shoes ever.

                                         Photo (c): Nomaddeea

                                                Photo (c): Nomaddeea

                                            Photo (c): Nomaddeea

 

 

I'm telling you, if you wanna bypass your Italy vacation this year, head to the coastal side of Montenegro, if you ignore the lack of roads and gaze instead at the luxurious villas and pent-houses, you will be just fine and with more financial resources in your pocket. You won't lack the Italian music, as Tuto Cutugno does licks, thrifts, runs & riffs ( and even vibrato..) from every possible restaurant you may have breakfast/lunch & dinner in. Kalaja & Antigona Restaurants are pretty fabulous. You can find them both in the Old Town.

 

                                                           Photo (c): Nomaddeea

 

         Photo (c): My fabulous Ipad

 

 

Add to that, you can visit nearby Albania ( you won't get kidnapped I promise!), and lake Skadar which is at the border between Montenegro & Albania. Ulcinj, is also the place where I saw Serbians, Albanians, Croats, Polish, Italian, Turkish and Romanian people perfectly able to dance themselves off every night at the bar, and then continue to the beach. To hell with these artificial wars, especially in the Balkan area. We must be pretty stupid to keep killing each-other for rich folks interests don't you think?

 

Eventually, a very important sentence emerged from our debates: "Civilization takes time", followed by "Everyone has the right to live". And it continued on "Global citizenship is about having or not a passport" ( think about Palestinians..and in the end, many of us still need multiple visas, so whom are we tricking here about equal & basic human rights?). This was in any case, the serious note of our work in Ulcinj. Because, obviously, pearls emerged, and a Turkish guy declared it's the end of contemporary English and we didn't exactly go into the OP ( original pronunciation): "here is no airy, let's get windy"' -"Because of environment and because of cow I cannot eat meat" or " I rather be a lesbian than a vegetarian" "So are you lesbian instead of vegetarian?" " The montenegrins overcooked my pasta! Oh wait you're not Italian!".

      Photo (c): Benedetta Risolo 

 Photo (c): Nomaddeea

 

 Frankly I don't know how our Turkish guy,  survived the intrusion of Italian into the English language, nor  how he survived 'himself', when a Montenegrin girl was driving like there was no tomorrow in the streets of Podgorica, with him in frontal seat position, holding tight and counting his life seconds.  But that's what's great about multi-national projects in the arts: we always find a way, a bridge to one another. Stanislavsky was saying that a real artist must lead a full, interesting, varied, exacting & inspiring life. He should know not only what is going on in the big cities, but in the provincial towns, far away villages & the big cultural centers of the world. I cannot reinforce that enough! As an actress/actor you get a total shift of your internal emotional resources when you travel or work project based, with multi-national people. They each bring the vibe of their countries, the flavor of their education, many having been in fact educated outside their respective countries, and then imagine blending this awesome mix together.  I mean this is gold right here...or total chaos of course.

 

                    Photo (c): Nomaddeea

 

In fact, total chaos was reinforced in my emotional life span, by listening every evening to Calle 13 "Amor Fugado". The tri-lingual Italian girl was hooked on it. Frankly, Amor Fugado by Calle 13, has the deepest love lyrics as sang in Spanish that I have ever heard, and they certainly did not help clear my head at all. Actually there was this game we played, that a girl from Perugia, Benedetta, taught us: with folding some sentences on a shared piece of paper and unfolding it in the end to see what match you had. I got these lines:" you need to stop the music in your head!" I haven't succeeded in this one so far. The music is still playing. And so is this view...

 

  

                 Photo (c): Nomaddeea

 

Back to our theatre practices,  we theatrically represented all sort of HR issues present in our countries of origin, as well as LGBT rights.  A famous case from Romania inevitably emerged. It was that of a student invited to drop from university, by its very Dean, for publicly recognizing he was gay. My team and I represented the Rroma rights through a theatre image play. It was performed on a platform above the sea-level, but frankly we froze in the position as people were debating what on earth we were actually doing there, and all I could think of, was that I needed to catch the sunset view. Which thankfully I did, we took an external route to our hotel, walked till we dropped, but we were on time for a glass of wine and sea-food on the beach.

 

      Photo (c): Nomaddeea

 

 

Generally speaking, all restaurants are fine to try in Ulcinj, especially on the coastal line they are all 5 stars in terms of food. 

 Some look quite kitsch-royal..

  Photo (c): Nomaddeea

 

The trainers though, got into open conflicts with the participants, clashing on opinions and ideas. I haven't heard the " I have the tools & I know how to apply the method and you don't", more often than I heard it in Montenegro. Everyone, literally everyone wanted to get away and have a glass of wine. Or herbs, according to each one's individual custom.

 

 It culminated though in an even more unpleasant conflict during project presentations, as whatever was a new way of looking at things, was regarded as 'influential' by the trainers so it was cut at its root. They even disliked my mouse & matador game, as being too persuasive into the direction I wanted people to go in. I'm an actress, so I naturally tend to be persuasive.  

 

Back to Ulcinj though, there is a captivating legend of the place & it has to do with Don Quixote & Dulcineea ( Ulcinj meaning actually 'sweet', as does Dulcineea).  So, by the end of the XVI century the well-known Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes was a slave in Ulcinj. Some investigators recognized a woman from Ulcinj in his Dulcinea of Tobosa, the leading role in his novel.  “Don Quixote” appeared after Cervantes’ slavery in the Old Town, which was in Roman states and still is, called Dulcinjo, and you will see a restaurant going by this name there.

                   Photo (c): my fabulous iPad

 

  The folk tradition mentions a Servet, whose destiny, but also the base of his name, match with that of Cervantes. An insight into many texts will lead you to the discovery that the 24-year-old Cervantes fell into slavery „one day in 1575 as three Ulcinj leuts – fast pirate boats, under the command of the notorious captain Arnaut Mami, attacked a Spanish frigate in the Mediterrannean. In the bloody fight the pirates overwhelmed the combative Spaniards and they took the ship with the captives to their harbor. Among the captives there was a man with a special recommendation from the Spanish king. This meant that he was a precious slave, who would bring the pirates a lot of gold when he'd be ransomed."

 

                                                              Photo (c): Nomaddeea

      

The local citizens called him Servet, which was actually the base of the later well-known Cervantes. His behaviour was traced with special care. This slave would, as the people from the Old Town had noticed, stay awake until late at night in his cell, constantly thinking over and writing. By day he would always sing so that girls often came out to their windows to hear him.  For one of the girls, as tradition suggests, this was not enough, so she followed him every time when the slave Servet went for a walk along the paths which were allowed to him. A great love was born between the local girl and the then, unknown slave. A couple of years later one foreigner came and brought a lot of money and freed Cervantes, who then took the beautiful girl from the Old Town away with him.

                                                                     Photo (c): Nomaddeea

 

Next, I will tell you a nice story of how a girl named Abigail, was in love with John , & they were living on an island...which was one of the most beautiful things I ever heard. It happened in a get-away day in Montenegro, when we went as 2 separate groups to visit the island of Sveti Stefan and the historic town of Budva. The story will actually be featured in my next article about Budva, so stay tuned because it's a great one. 

      Photo (c): Nomaddeea

 

The End.

Is only a New Beginning.

XoXo

Deea

 

© Deea Wolf

 

Ps: Montenegro has some of the best wines out there: Vranac works wonders in break-ups. I still haven't open the bottle that I have, but I tasted it while in Ulcinj..& Mr Dorian Gray also made a kitsch apparition to complete the picture ( straight from a garage..)

 

 

 

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