- Research assistant: Maja Ava Žiberna
- Assistant director: Ana Lorger, Nika Prusnik Kardum
- Dramaturgical collaborator: Katarina Morano
- Set design: Igor Vasiljev
- Costume design: Tina Pavlović
- Music; sound and video design: Blaž Gracar
- Speech advisor: Mateja Dermelj
- Translation of the recording: Barbara Skubic
- Lighting design and stage manager: Igor Remeta
- Production and stage manager: Tina Dobnik
People who have walked across half of the world to escape wars, persecution, violence and crushing poverty, call the last stretch of their route, the stretch that takes them from Bosnia and Herzegovina to a safe destination in the European Union, the game.
The game has no rules, laws don’t apply, the powers of the police is limitless, the violence increasingly brutal, the dangers increasingly more dangerous, the possibilities smaller and smaller, and the destination further and further … Many try several times, even twenty or thirty times; it’s a numbers game.
For many, the game is fatal. Available records show that around twenty people have thus far lost their lives on our borders.
The Game, a devised theatre project, will study the role and responsibility of Slovenia and its border policy for lives and fates of the people on the run.
The demanding nature of the production reflects in the faces of actors who narrate personal stories of the game participants in the first person. […] The actors are vital in making the narrated stories really come to life before our eyes in all their cruelty and terror. […] The Game is a performance that outlines facts. By avoiding unbridled sentimentality and moralising, it stirs up emotions in the viewer and provokes a desire for action, a desire for change. The question is, will that be enough? Will those responsible for the crimes committed against refugees in Slovenia attend the performance? Or anyone responsible for the deaths of refugees in the Kolpa river? Will it spark off a public debate about these issues? […] Still, that a performance that hopes to change something was put on stage is quite extraordinary. Only time will tell how successful it will be.
[The performance] achieves an incredible effect with minimal theatrical, mostly narrative, means. It is a supreme example of documentary theatre both in terms of the structure and selection of the narrative material (Katarina Morano's excellent dramaturgical concept) and the suggestive, acting confessions of almost all the protagonists. They lay bare the impotence of the democratic institutions of a country in a convincing, engaged way. […] We follow close to 20 individual, first-person stories of migrants, all terribly similar in their tragic, unrelenting, and inhuman persistence, which only stresses their horrific credibility. The objective account of an event is followed by a personal story, leaving personal props on a map on the floor, which serves as a game board for wet clothes, phones, shoes. This part is the most expressive. […] The repetition of the narrative structure further intensifies the desperate, Sisyphean horror of migrant destinies. The stories carry so much power that everything else is secondary.
After watching yesterday’s performance, the word game now has horrifying and tragic connotations. It seems that human life is no more than just a figure on a game board. Yet it is still full of hope, because that figure is fuelled by endless defiance and a life force that lasts until life ends. […] The game gives voice to more than twenty narratives of people who struggle again, and again, and again. They don’t give in. Testimonies of torture and abuse are horrific. They resemble one another. The director wonders whether all these deeds, which are contrary to the system, reveal that in fact they are organised, planned, and systematised. The performance is produced as an ascetic documentary throughout. Its message couldn’t be conveyed in any other way.
The text generates a lot of power. Stories of police violence carry a lot of weight on their own, both emotionally and cognitively, and by using them, the performance gives voice to individuals who are often ignored. At the same time, the perfectly calculated organisation and choice of text are central to the play. […] It is the consistent structure of narrative and the varied setting that pose the question whether such police violence is systematised, whether there is a consensus at state level due to the proceedings, and on whose orders police units act across different parts of the country in a similar way. By arranging the text specifically, The Game implicitly conveys a view of the events and places it in a broader social context. While politics demand tighter border controls, [this] important performance highlights the current state of events that lead to a total collapse of the fundamental principles of legal and ethical acts.
- Festival Perforacije, Zagreb, Croatia, 3 July 2021
- Maribor Theatre Festival, Maribor, Slovenia, 24 June 2021
- Borštnik Grand Prix for the Best Production (2021)
- Borštnik award for directing to Žiga Divjak (2021)
- Borštnik award for dramaturgy to Katarina Morano (2021)
- Borštnik award for set design to Igor Vasiljev (2021)
- Borštnik award for music and sound design to Blaž Gracar, also for Seven Days by the Ljubljana City Theatre (2021)
- Borštnik awards for acting to Matej Puc, also for his role in Seven Days by the Ljubljana City Theatre (2021)
- Borštnik award for young actress to Sara Dirnbek (2021)
- Župančič award 2021, bestowed by the City of Ljubljana to Žiga Divjak for the projects realised in the last two years, among them for The Game
Special thanks to Behnaz Aliesfahanipour, Hamza Aziz, Khalid Ali, Zaher Amini, Desmond, Reza, the Ahmmad family, Miha Turk, Anela Dedić, Nidžara Ahmetašević, Miha Blažič, Barbara Vodopivec, Uroš Škerl Kramberger, Kristina Božič, Aljaž Vrabec, Urša Regvar, Andraž Rožman, Dino Bauk, Faila Pašić Bišić, Milena Zajović Milka, François (MSF), Simon Campbell, Matej Povše, Dubravka Vranjac, Marko Pogačar, Tina Zorman, Ivan Šelih, Bruno Álvarez, Jernej Potočnik, Aco Todorović, Ivan Šikora, Info Kolpa, Are You Syrious, No Name Kitchen, Border Violence Monitoring Network, Legal-Informational Centre for NGOs, Human Rights Ombudsman of the Republic of Slovenia, Jože Goričar Central Social Sciences Library, ADRA Slovenia, and most of all to the residents of the Vič Asylum Centre, who shared their stories with us, and people in transit we met in Velika Kladuša and Bihać.