Demeter Calling, a new theatre work by Sanja Mitrović, is a concert performance in which an all-female cast mobilises the power of the singing body to turn attention to the gaps between life as prescribed by others and as we want it to be. Contemporary stories of women from different parts of the world are transformed into songs which complicate the notion of motherhood as the conservative focus of female identity.
‘One day they will listen to me, a woman.’
The inequality between genders has been festering away throughout the course of human history, from time immemorial up to this day. Amidst a number of crises that threaten the survival of our planet and species, women are yet again paying the highest social and economic price. Following a familiar pattern, multiple expectations – of mothering, parenting, caregiving, nursing, housekeeping – are escalated and foisted upon us. It is through such forms of gendered and undervalued labour that femininity is traditionally defined, patrolled and measured up against.
The performers from diverse backgrounds, including Mitrović herself, act as mediums attuning to and channeling voices of sisters dispersed across the gulfs of history, geography, ethnicity, and culture. In the liminal space between a world which has already ended and another yet to begin, they are an unlikely girl band celebrating female strength, resilience, determination, and guts to speak – and sing – one’s own pain.
New original music by Belgrade-based composer Marija Balubdžić binds together a multitude of individual perspectives. Taking as inspiration music from various Balkan regions, especially its female chants and specific rhythms, Balubdžić leaps off the signature elements of such traditional styles to forge them into slivers of glistening electronic avant-pop, broadcast from somewhere decidedly off the radar, otherworldly and resistant to categorisation.
Through the form of performative practice as communal and immediate as a music concert, Demeter Calling summons up the corporeal, the sensual and the affective, foregrounding nuances of the relationship between mother and child, and, in a wider sense, the perils of female survival.
CONCEPT, TEXT & DIRECTION Sanja Mitrović PERFORMANCE Sanja Mitrović, Ana Naqe, Mahina Ngandu, Magda Ral DRAMATURGY Sara Vanderieck ORIGINAL MUSIC Marija Balubdžić SOUND DESIGN Antoine Delagoutte COSTUME DESIGN Ivana Kličković SET DESIGN Laurent Liefooghe LIGHTING DESIGN Giacomo Gorini ASSISTANT DIRECTOR Siniša Mitrović DRAMATURGICAL ADVICE Gerardo Salinas SET & LIGHTING DESIGN Giacomo Gorini SET DESIGN ADVICE Laurent Liefooghe RESEARCH Tunde Adefioye PRODUCTION MANAGER Miek Scheers ASSISTANT DIRECTOR (internship) Audrey Apers PRODUCTION Stand Up Tall Productions COPRODUCTION Perpodium, KVS EXECUTIVE PRODUCTION Caravan Production RESIDENCY Koninklijke Vlaamse Schouwburg WITH THE SUPPORT OF The Flemish Authorities, de Taxshelter maatregel van de Belgische Federale Overheid in samenwerking met Casa Kafka Pictures