An interview with Branislav Lečić, professor at the Faculty of Contemporary Arts
Source: Aha magazine
By: Lj. S.
One, apparently cold, quiet, reserved, light-skinned, with delicate features and emerald eyes that capture you before you are aware of it. The other, a striking dark-haired lady, childlike in her playfulness, loud and quick to laugh so you immediately get an idea that being around her is always fun.
But as they are getting ready to take the stage, while they are putting on their costumes, they slowly open up in a casual conversation, they both change their parts, transforming skillfully and swiftly. Nataša puts on Nora’s tinsel-covered clothing in a blink of an eye and become entrancingly seductive, daring and ready to play. Anđelika now emanates a wistful halo, so characteristic of women not loved enough, thirsting for tenderness.
And when the two of them are joined by a male energy (Branislav), things take yet another turn… one moment, one of them is chaste and reserved, while the other is openly seductive; another moment, the other one stands coldly, while the other is cheerfully seductive… today, these and many other faces of woman are so bravely or so precisely played by Nataša Tapušković and Anđelika Simić, extraordinary, richly talented actresses in the play “Nora! What happened after Nora left her husband” at the Yugoslav Drama Theater, with the monumental Branislav Lečić, who gives himself as much on the stage as he does in life: 100%.
The most powerful acting experience?
Nataša: For me, the most powerful acting experience takes place in the moment when I feel that I am extremely present on the stage or in the film scene. That moment when my being fully aligns with the requirements and the necessities of the situation, the circumstances and the character I am playing. These are the moments when my imagination flies high and can do many things. These are the moments that make us actors very happy, and the audience recognizes them as moments of truth and rare authenticity.
Anđelika: I believe that describes my every role, above all: Hedda Gabler, Wendla, Viola, Ligeia, Annabella, Anna Pavlovna, Linde…
Branislav: As an actor, I have always related my own life with the art of the stage. One might say that it was, in fact, a unique theater. One body with two hands. Everything that affected my life was evident on the stage. And later, the stage started returning the theater experience into life. Therefore, the powerful parts were the ones that left an impression, affected my life and were, in turn, inspired by it. In the theater, for instance, Peer Gynt, Melchior in Frank Wedekind’s “Spring Awakening”, Hamlet, Weygang in Elfriede Jelinek’s play “Nora!”… and in film and television: The Black, Šantić, Gavrilo Milentijević, the Japanese, Teja in “The Professional”…
Frankly, what’s your reaction to awards?
Nataša: The awards motivate, give one wings to go further, they serve as a confirmation and materialization of our hard work and dedication.
Anđelika: Frankly, they bring me joy.
Branislav: Frankly, a great pleasure, but also frankly – I do not depend on it.
What do you find exhausting, and what do you find motivating when you are preparing a part? And in life?
Nataša: I am motivated by the shared dedication and understanding during the process of working on a play. It is really crucial that a group of artists breathe together and start speaking the same language. That’s when great works of art that can deliver eternity into our world come to be. A rare situation in my experience; I suppose it is understood that that an actor should have a temper that does not allow him to get rid of the egocentric, subjective view of a certain artistic reality. However, the truth is on the other side. I find that very lack of unity of mutuality exhausting.
Anđelika: I am primarily motivated by the text or the screenplay. And the team with which I create it all. But nothing exhausts me anymore; I do not allow that. I used to be unnerved and tired by those external circumstances, the treatment of culture in general.
Branislav: It’s like a journey. You feel uneasy about departing, and then while you are traveling, that is, exploring the play, the character, you are excited, and at the very end it all seems like a dream and there is sadness because it is no longer. With a play it is much better because, from time to time, you can dream again, because it is performed, it’s in the repertoire. So, for me, work has never been a burden, just excitement and joy.
In life I am most motivated by energy and creativity. I like to participate in creative projects, I like to build a new play, a new project, a good marriage, a good, sound relationship with children and wonderful friendships. I get exhausted by stupidity, especially when it’s aggressive. Cheating and betrayal.
When you turn and take a look at what you have done, do you say that it could have been different, better? Or that everything turned out better than you had expected?
Nataša: Everything is always just the way it should have turned out.
Anđelika: Everything turned out just as it should have, for my greatest good!
Branislav: It could always have been better. And there could have been more. I keep feeling completely unused. It would seem that my resources are obviously bigger. However much I enjoy it, I suffer just as much, because of the unused-ness. The life that excites me is always 100%. Perhaps that is why I feel always young.
How hard is it, in your line of work, to preserve the family and how do you inspire children to grow up joyfully?
Nataša: Today it’s particularly hard to keep the family healthy and vital, no matter whether you’re an actor, a baker or a banker. The needs that these times force upon us ought to be relativized. Viewed from a different angle. Unburden life from all sorts of excess, simplify that which will make us serene and happy. And constantly let the light of our reflection shine upon the children. This will be an authentic and comprehensive encouragement and assurance that life is truly meaningful and magical!
Anđelika: Love, unconditional love. Telling them that they are magnificent, special, unique and magical. Nourishing and safeguarding their divine nature. And show them how to be happy through own example. That happiness is our only goal, the goal of all our goals.
And when we are looking for a good life and success and secure love, we are, in fact, looking for happiness. Happiness shall be sought, they should seek happiness before any of that. In ourselves, in each day, in the morning, to be happy without any particular reason, just because they exist. And that family is above all else. Family should come first.
Branislav: Very hard. There are few persons who are ready to understand and tolerate the passion you have for your profession, because they see it as a lack of caring and love towards themselves. That is something deep inside a man. This passion is not a rival, especially not in personal love, it can always be shared with the woman you love. But only if we are both in the spirit. When it comes to children, I nourish their independence, that no one can make the key decision about their life instead of them. I insist that they be actively in touch with their inner being from an early age.
When it comes to humor, the favorite subject among men and women are their relationships; what is the funny side of your life together?
Nataša: I don’t see anything funny there. And perhaps that’s the funniest thing – that I take everything so seriously. Life together is continual work, harmonization, perpetual adaptation despite such good understanding of our fellow traveler. When there is pause in all this work, I silently laugh mostly because some things I never seem to learn.
Anđelika: That’s a question for friends and the people who surround us.
Branislav: What we should laugh at every day – if we don’t know how to laugh, we must learn. Not only life as a whole, but the everyday life should be viewed as a game, a game two people play in the sand, where a boy and a girl are building a castle, decorating it, working ceaselessly, never knowing who will send it tumbling down, but that does not mark the end. Tomorrow is a new day and they will get together to play again. This means that joy is very important, the playing. When two people are building that way, the castle cannot be seen, it is within them, while the one made of send – someone’s always destroying it.
Where do you see your creativity, besides acting?
Nataša: Besides acting, I notice it’s there while I’m writing, cooking, designing my apartment…
Anđelika: In everything I am.
Branislav: In not accepting the finality of anything. I understand life as dynamics, as a process that requires our continuous presence – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. If you need a password to access youth, I just gave it to you free of charge.
When are you the most yourself, in what moments, with what people?
Nataša: I try to be myself in every situation. This probably looks totally different in different situations and in the company of different people. I simply react to life, people, events, and always in my own way.
Anđelika: I try to be myself in every single moment of my life.
Branislav: With the ones I love.
Please recommend a play, book, exhibition, film or education for “growing in spirit”.
Nataša: I recommend most of the literature published by Lom, for example, Charles Bukowski’s poems, Carver’s short stories, Céline, Milena Marković…
Anđelika: “Conversations with God” by Neale Donald Walsch, books 1, 2 and 3. Exhibition “Pupin” at the Historical Museum, extended until June. The play “Nora!” at the Yugoslav Drama Theater.
Branislav: Lekart educational center (lekart.rs), of course. There you can find both books and practice, as well as performing in front of an audience. We are subtitled “It’s never too late to discover yourself”.
What would you like to tell us, and we have not asked?
Nataša: If you have not asked me anything, I will gladly stay silent.
Anđelika: I would like to tell you – thank you. You have a good, interesting, rich magazine, cherish it.
Branislav: I can’t wait not to be asked anything! To have some rest from you and myself alike. That’s the other side of the “being popular” coin for you.