Just as a film and literary work of recent times, which comes from the area of the former Yugoslavia, the dramatic text The Bacchae by Macedonian writer Goran Stefanoski, originating from the prayers of the eponymous Euripidean tragedy (406 a. Chr. n), shows that the same ‘narcissism of small differences’ rules within the Balkan nations. In this piece by a significant dramaturg of the former Yugoslavia is the unequivocal recognition of our immediate past (the time of the Balkan conflicts of the last decade of the twentieth century), the dramatic attempt to demystify and de-patheticize these eternal national conflicts through drama, which Stefanovski shapes with irony by means of the common pseudo-mythological matrix.
His Bacchae/Bahanalije is a dramatic work on several levels: the basic, outer frame which represents the play of ‘a theatre within the theatre’, and within that play there is a game of travesty which, among other things, thematizes the problem of the Second Messenger; however it seems that in the centre of the action is the dominant motif which we notice in earlier texts by this writer. This is the position of the contemporary educated individual, a man familiar with the fundamental values and texts of Western civilization, in a world that is simply not his home.
Thus the author builds the basic conflict on the concept of the differences between the two mentalities and mental matrices. One of them is composed of the experiences of the European mind, the dialogue and rational understanding of the world – and such a ‘matrix’ represented by the young ruler Pentheus and the other is made of instincts of desolation in the half-hearted city of Thebes, the blindness and irrational passion of the ideology of ‘blood and soil’. In the play, performed in the Romani language (at the Center for Cultural Decontamination in Belgrade), director David Putnik leaves the frame of the double theatrical play and emphasises his basic idea of marking the central element of the stage design – a permanently open powder keg, a symbol of local impatience and conflicts. Through a series of visualized scenes, he starts from the concept (based on the original text) that the Thebans have already been engulfed in such a degree of madness and impulsiveness that even without the appearance of the god Dionysus, they ‘transcended the mind’ and began their bloody, tragic wanderings. Simply put, Dionysus only adds oil to the fire, he is the deity (cult leader) that exactly suits such an irrational mentality.