26 July 2022

BRANKo CVEJIĆ DIES

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Former director and member of the Yugoslav Drama Theatre ensemble Branko Cvejić died today in Belgrade.

Born in Belgrade on 25th August 1946. After graduating from the Fifth Belgrade Grammar School he enrolled at the Faculty of Dramatic Art in Belgrade. Cvejić belonged to the new generation of actors who became members of the Yugoslav Drama Theatre ensemble in 1967, at the invitation of Bojan Stupica. At the YDT, he appeared in more than fifty different productions such as: Lord Graham (Lady Windermere’s Fan), Frank (Mrs Warren’s Profession), Petrunjela (Dundo Maroje), Stanković (Offing), Nikola (Nahod Simeon), Pera Pisar (The Cabinet Minister’s Wife), Simeonov-Pishchik (The Cherry Orchard). He worked closely with theatre director Dejan Mijač, first as an actor and later on as producer in a number of his productions. He also appeared in stage productions in other theatres – among them Zvezdara Theatre which he helped establish.

He appeared in more than 40 different feature films and in a number of important roles in films and series for television.
Served as general manager of the Yugoslav Drama Theatre between 2002 and 2011. Cvejić worked as assistant general manager from 1986 – 1999 and was appointed technical director in charge of the reconstruction of the Yugoslav Drama Theatre building in 2000.

In his capacity as producer/general manager, Cvejić was in charge of a number of different independent projects and co-productions.
Recipient of various international awards – Golden Laurel Wreath at the MESS festival in Sarajevo, City Theatre – award for contribution to drama awarded by Theatre City Budva (2011), Days of Sarajevo festival award (2011) but also the rare national theatre award Nikola–Peca Petrović awarded by the Theatre Marathon in Sombor (2006). In 1989, he received the Yugoslav Drama Theatre Special Award. At the Sterijino Pozorje theatre festival he received the Večernje Novosti award for his portrayal of Nikola in the production of Nahod Simeon in 1981 and the Glas Omladine award for his portrayal of Petrunjela in Dundo Maroje in 1977.

Branko Cvejić belonged to that generation of Serbian and Yugoslav theatre, film and television actors who stepped into the limelight towards the end of 1960s and conquered, took over and radically changed the traditional approach to acting. Their method led to a compete u-turn in the style of acting and imbued it with the modernity that the previous decade had announced and made it into a dominant stage expression in tune with the spirit of the times and trends in stage performances from around the world.

Branko Cvejić’s main contribution to this revolution in acting came in the form of a television series Grlom u Jagode by Srđan Karanović which, later on, received a film sequel and where this new style of acting, already present in his performances at the Yugoslav Drama Theatre and Atelje 212 theatre, as well as in film and television, became “official” and established. His performance in the series made Branko Cvejić one of the leading actors of his generation in former Yugoslavia.

Another very important contribution made by Branko Cvejić is the one he made as general manager of the Yugoslav Drama Theatre to which he remained loyal throughout his working life. During the mid-80s he became the right hand man and associate of the legendary general manager of the YDT Jovan Ćirilov and Cvejić served as the ideal linchpin between the three stages within the YDT and its management. In other words, the continued success of our productions, starting with The Travelling Troupe Šopalović, The Patriots, Spring’s Awakening, Calling the Birds, Baal, Peer Gynt, Migrations, Spitting the Nation, L’Ilusion Comique, The Powder Keg and many others – became possible thanks to the dedicated work and involvement of Branko Cvejić. Many of these productions did not only represent high artistic achievements, but were also revolutionary in many ways, both in their physical size and scope as well as in theretofore unimaginable approaches in direction and materials and effects used. Together with Jovan Ćirilov, Branko Cvejić became the key person for the continued success of YDT productions both nationally and internationally thanks to a vast number of guest performances abroad.
The Yugoslav Drama Theatre became one of the leading theatres in Europe, a fact confirmed by its membership in the European Theatre Convention and soon after, in 2006, with the invitation to join the most prominent theatre association on our continent – The Union of the Theatres of Europe founded more than thirty years ago by one of the most important directors in the history of theatre Giorgio Strehler. His work as theatre director resulted in constant reinventions of our theatre’s repertoire with the idea that the YDT is a theatre that attracts the best the world of art has to offer. The principle of openness in selecting associates during his time in management – leading figures in the region, as well as constant inclusion of young and upcoming artists, resulted in the YDT giving guest performances on three different continents in around 70 different cities around the world and continuously receiving national and regional awards for best productions but also for individual performances which could hardly have happened without Cvejić’s input as general manager. Productions such as Tracks, Huddersfield, The Miser, Locusts, Dreamers, Elijah’s Chair, Born in YU, Phaedra’s Love, The Merchant of Venice, Metamorphoses, as well as many others represented a kind of permanent exhibition in an immensely important imaginary museum of theatre in Serbia and Europe of 21st century, repeatedly recognised and receiving all the most important awards in the world of theatre.

Branko Cvejić left behind him a unique and stellar trail and made an important contribution, not only to the culture, art and society of Serbia but also as one of the most important people in the rich history of his second home – the Yugoslav Drama Theatre.