2024/2025 — Season 69

Our Violence and Your Violence

Directed by: Oliver Frljić
Co-production: HAU Hebbel am Ufer (Berlin), Wiener Festwochen (Vienna), Mladinsko Theatre (Ljubljana), Kunstfest Weimar (Weimar), Zürcher Theater Spektakel (Zürich), Croatian National Theatre Ivan pl. Zajc (Rijeka); funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation; regional co-producer: MESS Sarajevo
Commissioned by: HAU Hebbel am Ufer, Berlin
Première: 13. 10. 2016 (Mladinsko), 29. 5. 2016 (Vienna)
  • Barbara Babačić
    Barbara Babačić
  • Rasha Omran
  • Uroš Kaurin
  • Dean Krivačić
    Abi Aziz
  • Jerko Marčić
    Mihajlo Tamar
  • Nika Mišković
    Noor Nazari
  • Draga Potočnjak
    Amal Petrovič
  • Hadi al Zaidi
  • Rauf Asgarov
  • Dramaturgy: Marin Blažević
  • Set design: Igor Pauška
  • Costume and make-up design: Sandra Dekanić
  • Lighting design: Dalibor Fugošić
  • Adaptation of lighting design: David Cvelbar
  • Sound design: Silvo Zupančič
  • Music selection: Oliver Frljić
  • Artistic advice: Aenne Quiñones
  • Assistant director: Barbara Babačić
  • Production management: Hannes Frey

Inspired by Peter Weiss' novel The Aesthetics of Resistance


The performance Our Violence and Your Violence observes the Europe which was – how naively – surprised by the refugee crisis, the Europe that unscrupulously forgets its colonial past while closing borders to those escaping the consequences of the European and American politics. As if the 20th century stubbornly did a single thing – fuelling the national narcissisms that taught one mass that it’s better than others, while forgetting on purpose that ostracism is a form of violence. The 21st century continues to teach the same lessons, but uses the indispensable weapon: fear. And fear is the most reliable condition for hatred.

For this reason, the performance Our Violence and Your Violence will ask a couple of very unpleasant questions: Are we aware that our welfare depends on thousands of dead in the Middle East? Do we cry for the victims of terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels the same way as we do those in Baghdad and Kabul? In which moment did we start to believe that we are masters of truth and that our God is mightier than others?

In the media

Oliver Frljić’s production Our Violence and Your Violence, advertised as provocative and considered by some spectators too direct and disgusting, is, in my opinion, very tender and touches you as a plusht toy. When we watch it, we often think how a simple children’s game can function in theatre as a striking force. During the performance, they lie to our faces that they will cut all our heads off. But they lie in a way that is so aesthetically pleasing and harmonious that one gets goose bumps. And it is the admiration of the murderous choreography and the impatient expectation of the next corpse that will be placed like a gift under the Christmas tree in the back of the stage, that is a consequence of the complacent Western thinking about reality, the type of thinking that Frljić criticises. […]

This is not subtle art – everything here is shattering and has an effect of a cold shower, the guilt is, without playing games, ascribed to us, Europeans, obviously to theatre lovers who have gathered with no shame and no everyday problems, as plebeians  do, at the theatre festival Sirenos. We’re guilty because of everything: because we’re Europeans, because we enjoy art, because we cry over the terrorist attacks in Paris because out children merrily gobble happy Meals while children in other countries don’t eat at all. Yes, manipulation here is direct and merciless and so annoying that you cannot help yourself but watch it.

[A]s for me, Our Violence and Your Violence doesn’t touch me because of signs, but because of crashes between the extreme alienation and the zealous cruelty in each character. The peacefulness of their bodies and the clearly expressed inner balance become a counterbalance to the turbulences in the production.

(Dovilė Zavedskaitė, 7md.lt, Oct. 15, 2021)

This is an intentionally obnoxious, intentionally insolent, intentionally infantile nature of the entire production by the Mladinsko Theatre which is over an hour long and covered with a jester’s mask of violence, abuse and hate. It seems that its creators no longer believe in the in-depth analysis of the dispute between the East and the West or in the possibility of dialogue. For this reason, they use intentional (?) banalisation of this complex and insoluble question to stick overly stereotypical points of views and perception clichés in front of viewers’ noses.

[…] For a human, the mask of a fool has always been a privilege that allowed him to speak the truth. But who can say whose side is truth on today?

(Ramunė Balevičiūtė, menufaktura.lt, Oct. 12, 2021)

Frljić masterfully links historic causes and presumptions with the consequences we feel today. The perpetrators of violence shown in the production aren’t only bad boys who need to be helped and then there will be peace on Earth; the production shows that the everyday life and habits of majority of Europeans are based on violence and exploitation. […]

The production Our Violence and Your Violence is special in that it doesn’t only narrate the experiences, but allows us to feel them. Racists, sexists, homophobes, ableists all judge people because of their origin, that is, because of something they cannot change, because of something they were born with. Frljić does exactly that: he judges the privileged class and places another original sin on our shoulders: our way of life, the price of which is mostly paid by people born elsewhere. I was born in Europe, so people will be exploited for my material welfare. For me to exist in a way I like, violence must also exist. Let me repeat – some statements sound like statements from a very woke person, but after seeing Our Violence and Your Violence I realised this isn’t the case. I’m not ready to give up my everyday privilege. I justify it by saying that my sacrifice would change practically nothing, not with our world being based on violence. And I don’t know how long it will take before we will clean the decay from the foundations.

(Aušra Kaminskaitė, 15min.lt, Oct. 12, 2021)

I tell you what, I’ll just be honest: this is a treacherously difficult show to write about for an English-speaking audience. I really enjoyed watching it. And I quite enjoyed thinking about just how outraged some people might be if it ever played in England. […] So, yes, I found this show massively refreshing, because it wasn’t a load of pious whinging. It was willing to offend all sorts of people, and it wasn’t right wing, or misogynist, or racist, or anti-Semitic, etc. etc. at all. Though doubtless it would get called all sorts of things if it ever played in England. […] Our Violence and Your Violence isn’t 'perfect in any particular sense of the word, but it’s probably the most robust, antagonistic, fighty bit of left-wing theatre I’ve seen in an age. And perhaps the first this year that hasn’t made me put my head in my hands at the idea of 'the left.

The superficial perception, for example in the responses from abroad, quickly met with resistance, indignation and self-defensive stance. [...] But detailed observation, listening and experiencing the atmospheric undulation in the performance speaks primarily about a great artistic work. How sophisticatedly does the director lead the spectator from scene to scene and thus weaves almost tangible links; he lets the spectator breathe, confuses him, angers, saddens, and at the same time imbues him with his mastery.

(Petra Tanko, Radio Slovenija, Oct. 14, 2016)

Our Violence and Your Violence doesn’t pretend to know the right questions, but shares the painful awareness about the relativity of the current geopolitical constellations and ends with a question for the future.

Despair is the best in moments when it becomes poetry, and poetry can’t be surpassed as a learning tool. And above all the provocation beyond the anticipated spectacular pigsty, in which we play the ascribed role of the exotic, non-dangerous – except for the own mind and culture.

(Svetlana Slapšak, Večer, V soboto, Oct. 22, 2016)

One of the best, most subtle Frljić’s up till now, undoubtedly. Carefully measured and precisely gauged.

(Melita Forstnerič Hajnšek, Večer, Nov. 2, 2016)

So Frljić is now disgusting; Frljić is insolent; Frljić is kitschy; Frljić is insipid ... Of course, Frljić is none of this, and when he is, he is so on purpose. But above all the key is to watch Our Violence and Your Violence as the next act in Frljić’s opus, like a sort of a new learning peace, because we can compare his mission to Brecht’s. And if some want to understand the slogan on the wall built of gasoline canisters DAS PETROLEUM STRÄUBT SICH GEGEN DIE FÜNF AKTE (The oil resists the five acts) as Frljić’s attempt to apologise and excuse his failure in forming a coherent dramaturgy, they’ve missed the point. As it happens, violence is a theme that cannot be put into five acts or any other coherent form. Just think of the rapid and chaotic change of the situation in the Middle East; can you put the tragedy of Aleppo, and the latest one in Mosul into five acts? Of course not. And actually, the question of oil is behind all this. Yes, oil can truly flow across borders; even hostile countries (usually) let it pass through their territory to their adversaries. People don’t have such luck. And yes, this is what Oliver Frljić is talking about.

Guest performances

  • Sirenos Festival, Vilnius, Lithuania, 4 and 5 October 2021
  • Podgoričko kulturno ljeto, Podgorica, Montenegro, 7 July 2019
  • Festival Barski ljetopis, Bar, Montenegro, 6 July 2019
  • Festival Divadelní svět Brno, Brno, Czech Republic, 26 May 2018
  • Festival Iberoamericano de Teatro de Bogotá, Bogotá, Colombia, 27–29 March 2018
  • ZonaK (Focus Now), Milano, Italy, 18 and 19 November 2017
  • MOT, Skopje, Macedonia, 28 September 2017
  • Maribor Theatre Festival, Maribor, Slovenia, 20 October 2017
  • KRASS Kultur Crash Festival (Kampnagel), Hamburg, Germany, 28 and 29 April 2017
  • Marulić Days, Split, Croatia, 24 April 2017
  • CNT Ivan pl. Zajc, Rijeka, Croatia, from November 2016 on
  • Desiré Central Station, Subotica, Serbia, 19 November 2016
  • Temps d'Image, Cluj, Romania, 11 November 2016
  • MESS Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 9 October 2016
  • HAU Hebbel am Ufer, Berlin, Germany, 27–30 September 2016
  • Festival of New Dramaturgies, Bydgoszcz, Poland, 25 September 2016
  • Kunstfest Weimar, Weimar, Germany, 20 and 21 August 2016
  • Wiener Festwochen, Vienna, Austria, 29 May – 1 June 2016

  • Grand Prix for best performance at the Festival Barski ljetopis in Montenegro, 2019
  • The "Brave New World" award bestowed by the Dani newspaper at the MESS Sarajevo festival 2016
  • Sever Award to Blaž Šef, also for his creation in Our Violence and Your Violence
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