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In this page you can discover the top 10 preselected artists for the Theatre discipline in the Green Area (Western, Central and Eastern Europe).

The top 3 artists selected by the qualified judges and the audience are invited to the Semi-final event in Poland in September 2022. Every vote counts!

The winners of the Semi-final event in each discipline will take part in the MArteLive Biennial in October 2022 in Rome, Italy. They will also have the chance to participate in Art residencies and get relevant prizes.

Discover and vote for the greatest artists from the Western, Central and Eastern Europe countries!

Detox Production

Dresden, Germany

Wiete Sommer studied fashion design in Berlin and works as a freelance fashion designer and producer for contemporary dance at the intersection of design, art, club culture, cultural formats, science and business. She is committed to an ecological and social turnaround, has been working interdisciplinary and co-creative in collectives ( #Uplifting) for 10 years and develops slow fashion products with a focus on regional value creation. “My personal goal is to support free spaces that make theater possible. In these free spaces innovation emerges, they allow for a natural culture of error. Development takes place.” 
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WORK DESCRIPTION:

“ImTeamPflege” – is Interdicinderalla’s investigation to break open a society characterized by inextensible milieus, to go from the shell to the core of the inside.

Caring as a Team – “ImTeamPflege” seeks vulnerability and shows vulnerability. Takes vulnerability by the hand and with it onto the stage. Because vulnerability also plays a central role in the collective creative process.

Vulnerability – What does that mean? Where does it start? Can I make myself vulnerable? 

I assume that you are vulnerable, I feel with you. Which colors and which materials underline your vulnerability?

How far does a theme intervene in the production of a piece? If the theme is vulnerability, can the costume hurt the performers? After all, the staging of the body is the staging of vulnerability.
That the theme in its treatment in society is still in its infancy, two contrasting spaces were designed. Our audience should be picked up nostalgically with the beats, visions, vibes and curves of the 80s on Miami Beach. The series Miami Vice provided a steep template. We used placements in this room to work in the next very opposite with information that communicates no direct statement but our own interpretation of the feeling vulnerability. This staging was meant to counter the clichés of vulnerability, because vulnerability is open.

The piece celebrated its premiere at the renowned club objekt klein a in Dresden (https://objektkleina.com/oktober-2021/)

 
It is the result of many personalities working collectively.

#you ARE warmly invited #clubculture #independent art styles #art-as collective prozess

 

Unfortunate Thespians

Bucharest, Romania

We plant the artistic seeds of today, that future generations may harvest tomorrow. We are a collective of artist focusing on building a better future. We try to expose a mirror in front of the contemporaneous society. Our projects always try to expose, and talk about uncomfortable topics of today. What started out as 2 visionaries has turned into a 200+ collective of artists. We have 50+ projects of which 10 international. 

About the performance

The Body of a Woman as a Battlefield


Concept – A long forgotten historical myth says that all war start for women, or a woman to be more specific. But what happens when desires distort into abuse, and passion is used in all the wrong ways? What happens when military tactics treat the human body as nothing more than an object? How many women should be sacrificed so to stop a perpetual cycle with roots at the origins of humanity? Visniec’s words present us the contemporaneity of ancestral burdens. Can we transcend the historical perception of a woman’s body into a parabolic ode worshipping the life-giving beings known as women? This experimental performance gazes us into the shattered memories, and pieces of existence, of a woman that has gone to hell and back. Acceptance, self-love, forgiveness are just a few of the themes that we want to contemplate together. We cannot change history, but we can change what is to come. Our performance dares to ask uncomfortable questions and mirrors what still happens in contemporary society in regards to women.
Themes – abuse, rape, war, womanhood, freedom of speech, hate, ethnical cleansing, gender, equality, gref
Showing – The performance shows what happens when women are abused and what happens to them physically, and mentally. Every scene is a different tableau that reflects upon different forms of hate/abuse (including self-hate, revenge, etc.). It shows that we globally have to make bigger efforts towards fighting for equality, and that history has a tendency to repeat itself. It also shows that if we do not start taking immediate actions and better educate future generations, history might not change that much. We also show a unity between abuse victims and how they can stand for each other and how they should not be afraid to speak out. Unfortunately the attitude towards women has not changed towards the better. Before the pandemic 1 in 3 women suffered of domestic abuse, those numbers have gone up since the Covid outbreak (and at this time they are impossible to calculate precisely). Our performance raises a wakeup call towards how women are seen and treated in contemporaneity.
Director – Mike Savuica
Performers – Andra Brebu. Claudia Vasile, Teodora Vasu, Andreea Rogoveanu, Claudiu Dragomir
Music – Andrei Dutu, Andra Brebu
Text – Matei Visniec

Ledet

Prague, Czech Republic

A site specific performance where dancers and musicians explore their relationships to each other and a space. Creating new music together through improvisation and connection. The closeness and distance that is possible in a space. Each artist is brought to the space with this moment to make something new. A new song, a choreography, a moment.
We Didn’t Know What To Do So We Danced brings people together from different worlds, different genres, and lives. Creating a moment of connection away from the world. Join us for the experience and watch something new come to life.
Work Description

Materials: Technical equipment for musicians, lights, smoke machine. This projects is designed to fit in any space. So it’s important to know what space we would be performing in so we can work with it. We have performed in a small gallery (as seen in my video submission), a theatre in the center of Prague with 4 stories of apartments turned gallery spaces, an Austro-Hungarian invalid building for soldiers.

The beauty of this project is how each space, each performance is different. Watching it transform with each new version. Each new audience.

The concept is to bring people together. Not only the audience and the artists. But also artists who would normally not meet in their professional world. Musicians and dancers from different backgrounds in one space. Connecting and creating an ephemeral moment of artistry and exploration.

The Men with the Pink Triangle

Krakow, Poland

The group was formed in 2020 as an initiative of five young artists. The team members are: Krzysztof Popiolek (director), Aleksander Halbina (music), Radoslaw Jamroz, Grzegorz Labuda and Jakub Margosiak (actors).
Krzysztof Popiolek – theatre director, a graduate of the National Academy of Theatre Arts in Cracow, Poland; art curator of the ‘New Forms of Theatre’ project in the Mazovia Institute of Culture in Warsaw; lecturer at the Department of New Media Art at the Polish-Japanese Academy in Warsaw.

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He collaborated with theatres in Poland and abroad (United Kingdom, Latvia, Japan). He was a Grand Prix winner of the international festival Premio Internazionale “Il Teatro Nudo” at Spazio Teatro No’hma in Milan. He was also awarded with the Audience Award for Best Director at TopOffFestival 2019 in Poland. He gave a lecture entitled ‘Literature as a shelter for the times of crisis’ at the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, concerning work on a text in the theatre.
As a curator, he made study visits to theatres in Austria, Georgia and Italy. Since 2020, he has been conducting his own teaching process, examining the narratives of the future in literature, theatre and cinema.

work description

We developed this project with the interest of questioning the line between artist and
viewer, the limits of working with the static and the movement, depending on the
assistants so that the piece takes life.

The two artists agree that art can be therapeutic.
Reflect on what dependency is, how it feels, the process
to stop being dependent, to fill the space left by dependency with something else, the
fertile emptiness and what happens when we seek to be independent.

AN INVITATION TO REFLECT ON DEPENDENCIES

In the center of the installation, one of us will act as the backbone,
of the being from which everything starts. From this will emerge different fabrics that
represent the different dependencies that may have been
attached, the public will be able to stand and represent these possible
dependencies and interact with the being of the center, a communication
between the dependency and the person, what happens?
How does each affect dependence on the person?

A proposal that invites us to become aware by placing ourselves in different positions,
points of view around dependencies.
Each belt connection will have embroidered words from various
dependency scenarios, such as drugs, migration, relationships.
Resorting to embroidery because of the resemblance to wearing something on the skin,
as if was part of us questioning what if I let go and
do I turn it into something else? The cloth represents the extensions of
ourselves, which creates dependency, the belief that we cannot
leave things or situations, that this is part of us.

Madrid, Spain

Beatriz Rosa is a 23 year old actress. Borned and raised in Almeirim, Portugal. At the age of 11 started singing and acting at the school’s drama club. During her High School years she starts taking drama classes in Sá da Bandeira Theater in Santarém, for over 3 years. In 2017, she moved to Porto to study Applied Languages to Business Relationships and during her Erasmus she was part of the 10th Edition of an official European Union Project – Escena Erasmus in Valencia, Spain.
At the age of 22 she starts studying in Central de Cine, in Madrid, where she currently lives.
She loves to travel, walk in the nature, play the ukulele, sing and cook.
She is fluent in 3 languages, English, Portuguese and Spanish. And also speaks German and understands French.
At the moment she is participating in short films and pursuing her acting career both in Portugal and Spain.
text

El Espejo – The mirror

Yes?…

Yes, tell me…

What?

And… what happened?

Yeah… thank you.


(you’re in 5 minutes)

Thank you.

La Col·lectiva Imaginària

Valencia, Spain

La Colectiva Imaginaria began as a university theater collective that emerged from the common passion that its members felt for theater and the need to revive the University Theater. We are a young company that understands theater as a tool for social transformation. Thus, our shows do not pretend to be a simple entertainment but try to make the audience reflect and move them. Since all the members of the group are young, we try in our theatrical productions to have young people full of talent and thus believe and continue to form as professionals through our theatrical projects.

Karkow, Poland

Rafał Szumera, 35 years old, actor with the Juliusz Słowacki Theater in Krakow.
The video is an excerpt of the play “Debil,” directed by Piotr Ratajczak. Rafał Szumera plays the lead role of Kuba, a forty-year-old man with an intellectual disability.
In competition he will play a 10-minute fragment of a play by Malina Prześluga entitled “Debil”.
He would like to try to tell the text of Malina Prześluga “Debil” within 10 minutes. Originally, the text was written mostly as a monologue, in the performance it was adapted for six actors.
That is why he would like to have the opportunity to strip the play in which he plays from the staging proposed by the director and the creators and face the audience’s perception of this topic myself.


Video comes from the play “DEBIL” directed by Piotr Ratajczak, produced at the Theater in Krakow in co-production with the Four Cultures Festival, and it’s just a part of monologue that he wants to reinterpret during competition

Work Description

This risky artistic endeavor succeeds for two reasons. First of all, thanks to the imagination and sensitivity of the author of the text, who wants to give the voice to her protagonist, she does not hide that what she writes about is a fiction. Secondly, thanks to the great work of Rafał Szumera, who builds the character of Kuba with consistency and restraint; without lethargy, clichés, or banality.
Newsweek Poland, Michał Centkowski.
Rafał Szumera as Kuba, the title role, makes an extraordinary impression.  The precision and sharpness in creating this character determine both the actor's talent and the dramatic power of Prześluga's play.
Agnieszka Wójtowicz.
The character, Kuba Szumery, goes further; he exclaims: “We remove everything that is an obstacle, we remove everything that we do not understand… what cannot be part of our reality.” “I invalidate everything that I do not understand,” screams Kuba, and there is all of Poland’s fear in this shout.
“Only I will speak.  I took your voice away! ”  Szumera is playing in elation, he is no longer a disabled boy daydreaming, he is a prophet of the new order.  “I'm an imaginary retard.  Conceived for the needs of the moment” – cries his Kuba – “The world needs idiots.  Even if I have all of you killed, if I do it right now, nothing will happen. “
Szumera does not imitate any disease or handicap.  He gets carried away by stories, only words betray him, only the language he speaks gives his true social position and the limit of his knowledge.
NEWSWEEK Łukasz Drewniak.

Barcellona, Spain

I work to put theater at the service of conscience. I am passionate about creating from social and immersive theater because it takes into account the public as part of the ritual and artists as a channel for shared stories. Suspendida was created to open a space for reflection and expression on what makes us dependent.

Suspendia was developed with the interest in questioning the line between artist and viewer, the limits of working with the static and the movement, depending on the assistants so that the piece takes life.

The two artists agree that art can be therapeutic.
Reflect on what dependency is, how it feels, the process to stop being dependent, to fill the space left by dependency with something else, the fertile emptiness and what happens when we seek to be independent.

Teaser

work description

We developed this project with the interest of questioning the line between artist and viewer, the limits of working with the static and the movement, depending on the assistants so that the piece takes life.

The two artists agree that art can be therapeutic.
Reflect on what dependency is, how it feels, the process to stop being dependent, to fill the space left by dependency with something else, the fertile emptiness and what happens when we seek to be independent.

AN INVITATION TO REFLECT ON DEPENDENCIES

In the center of the installation, one of us will act as the backbone, of the being from which everything starts. From this will emerge different fabrics that
represent the different dependencies that may have been attached, the public will be able to stand and represent these possible dependencies and interact with the being of the center, a communication
between the dependency and the person, what happens?
How does each affect dependence on the person?

A proposal that invites us to become aware by placing ourselves in different positions, points of view around dependencies.
Each belt connection will have embroidered words from various dependency scenarios, such as drugs, migration, relationships.
Resorting to embroidery because of the resemblance to wearing something on the skin, as if was part of us questioning what if I let go and do I turn it into something else? The cloth represents the extensions of ourselves, which creates dependency, the belief that we cannot leave things or situations, that this is part of us.

Maria Caetano Vilalobos

Lisbon, Portugal

Born in Lisboa in 1994. Actress and director with a degree in Theater from the University of Évora and the ESAD of Murcia. Completed her Masters in Interpretation and Artistic Direction at the ESMAE, in PORTO. Participated in some international projects Exchange – Breathe (Turkey, 2015); Say it Loud (Germany, 2017); Sometimes Je Ne Sais Pas Cómo Hablarte (Spain, 2017), Corps Intime, Corps Politique (France, 2018), Mr&Mrs Lover (Netherlands, 2018), Migr’art (Poland, 2019). Declaims recurrently in the Poemacto initiative and, in this same context, is part of the poetic anthology “Bicho Mudo Viro Bicho” as a poet and illustrator; Winner of Poetry Slam Amadora 21’ and 22’ and Slam Trafaria 21’. She currently works as an actress in the show “O Público” staged by Karas from the company Ninho de Víboras, she is a director and actress of the projects “!REGA GERAL” and “Nu Geral”, teacher of Theater and Dramatic Expression, curator of the collective exhibition A Arte de Nos Virmos about the female orgasm and sexuality and poet in the Mbuki-Mvuki musical project.
text

I am a Woman

I am a Woman
Vulva on the outside
Inside is vagina
I was raised until now
To be a good girl
“Don’t just hang out with guys
You’ll look like a whore
You don’t know
What people are capable of
And it’s not worth the fight
Heed, be chaste
The rest is enough
Accept the recipe
A man
Is not honest
He lies and cheats
But loves like this”
“Breath, contract
Come to be in me”

What a gift
To be born a Woman
So good
To be able to suffer
With no sound
And having to run
In the shadow
Of whoever wants me

“Don’t go alone
Ask them to take you home
Call me when you arrive!
It’s not my paranoia
Things happen
You better accept it. “
“Be careful daughter
This life is dangerous
Especially for women”
Looks like a trap
To make me scared
But it’s only that way
If you want it to be.

“You only hang up with boys…
What were you expecting?
With short clothes
Bold answers
What were you expecting?
You look like a whore
You don’t take care about what you do
What were you expecting?
You talk about sex
So openly
You give yourself to everyone
Nonsensical
What were you expecting?

I was expecting to be able to go out at night
Without having to come home running
To be able to hear my name
Without starting to shake
Expecting to sit on the train
Without having to look at the floor
Because a single glance with a boy
It’s read as a booty call *
Waiting to be able to speak
About sex and masturbation
Choose to go out and dance
Without feeling your hand
Without having to feel you rubbing on me
Because you think
If I didn’t want to
I Would say no
Well, if I wanted to I would say yes
And I’m not just speaking for myself
A discusting approach in the night
A look at the subway
An invitation to dance
Already pulling her inside
Your hand on my wrist
A whisper in the ear
A kiss without permission is “only an impulse”
A photo without asking for it
The simple idea
That I wanted all of this.

The body freezes
Panic takes over
The heart pumps
He asks
“Do you have a lighter?”
The word suppresses
And everything accelerates
And it’s only a crime
If she denies him
If she resists
But her strength gives up
In the moment he takes her
Because conscience insists
That society is blind
And of all the saddest
The sentence only exists
When she denies him
You saw it, you know this exists,
You lived it, you felt it.
The body freezes
Panic takes over
The heart pumps
He asks,
“Do you have a lighter?”
You heard,
You pretended not to see,
The exaggerated pick-up line
The voice raised
The frozen body
And everything turns to nothing.

“It was her boyfriend
How could she have been raped?”

Maria Caetano Vilalobos

* “Automatically gives him authorization “.

work description
Sou Mulher it’s part of Nu Geral – a show about sexuality through love and intimacy but also oppression and violence. 
 
This excerpt draws attention to the reality of being a woman in today’s society, where harassment is normalized and sexual violence victims have risen during pandemic times.
Most of the time we are afraid to come home at night, to talk about it, to be blamed or seen as crazy when we feel brave enough to speak and claim our rights. The victim is not the problem. To be a woman is to fight for freedom that should belong to all of us.
Degree in Theater and Master’s in Interpretation and Artistic Direction. Wrote the thesis “How to create a performative practice to think the today’s sexualities” and participated in international projects in Turkey, Germany, Spain, France, Poland and Netherlands, about human, sexual and Reproductive Rights. Part of the anthology “Bicho Mudo Viro Bicho” and Mbuki-Mvuki musical project, winner of Poetry Slam contests, theatre teacher, curator of the exhibition “The Art of Coming” about the female orgasm, actress in “O Público” by Karas, and actress-director on the projects “!REGRA GERAL” and “Nu Geral”
Vídeo by Cláudia Moreno

Yuliia Shvetsova

Lviv, Ukraine

Who hasn’t heard the story of the biblical Judith? When the Assyrian army besieges her native town of Bethuliah and the townspeople are about to give up, the widow decides to take a fearless step. She sneaks into the enemy camp, seduces the military leader Holofernes and… cuts his head off. She saves her city, not even realizing how short-lived her triumph will be.

The ironic story of the Lithuanian writer and satirist Vytaute Žilinskaite is an attempt to look into the life of Judith after her heroic deed. How did the life of Judith turn out after the murder? Did the citizens of  Bethuliah appreciate her sacrifice? Could she continue to live with blood on her hands even if it was the cruel military commander she killed? The play gives answers to these questions in a rather ironic yet unexpected for the public way.
Text

The short triumph of Judith

 

Who hasn’t heard of the heroic deed of the biblical Judith! Remember? Her native town of Bethuliah is long besieged by a great Assyrian army. The citizens have little water left, and it seems like there’s no other way out but to give in. But even so, the enemy won’t have mercy upon them. They’ll loot, plunder, burn everything to the ground, rape the women, make slaves out of the children, and kill all men. What are they supposed to do? Cry, mourn, bury themselves alive?

 

And here comes Judith begging her citizens to last for a few more days; saying that she’s come up with an idea. The Bible doesn’t share the reasons why a young, beautiful, wealthy widow took such risks. Or rather, it speaks only of great matters. And the reason is simple: she’s in love! That’s right! She’s madly in love with a soldier, the defender of her town, and seeks to protect him from an imminent death. Only love can make a woman playfully move through the spears of the hostile guards, enter the tent of their leader, dance for him, fortune-tell him, pretend that she hates her city, forecast victory for the Assyrians…

 

The Bible tries to convince us that Judith is pure and sinless. Yeah, you wish! Just recall those three nights when she feasted with the enemy commander Holofernes, seduced him with her smiles and caresses, and then – snip! – cut his head off. It’s hard to believe the Biblical tales that he didn’t touch her during those three days. Not a single man – especially such a cruel and spoiled by universal unquestioning obedience military leader – will not restrain himself if he’s surrounded by goblets of wine, has a beautiful woman dancing for him, and waits for a mortal battle in a day or two. That’s why Holofernes lost his head, because he believed in the sincerity of female passion, stayed alone with Judith, got what he wanted to, and carelessly fell asleep in her arms, neglecting caution.

 

Judith cut off Holofernes’s head with his own sword, wrapped it in a veil, threw it into a basket, laid it with cut pomegranate fruits so that drops of blood would not arouse suspicion, threw a dark scarf over her head, and returned to the besieged city under the cover of the night. I repeat once again: only a loving, madly loving woman can to turn into a gray cat at night and sneak past the watchful guard posts invisibly… So don’t believe those words of the Bible that claim that Judith honestly widowed and mortified her flesh before and after her heroic deed. Nonsense.

 

Now listen further. As expected, the enemy camp flew into panic. Having seen their leader dead – or rather, beheaded – the Assyrians saw this as a heavenly punishment and, fearing that the angry gods would send even more terrible troubles to the army, collected their belongings and ran away from the ill-fated Bethuliah…

 

And it’s not difficult to imagine what happened in the city afterwards; after the liberation seemed to have fallen from heaven itself. The townspeople went crazy; they were screaming, hugging, kissing, crying – all for a reason!

 

And the widow Judith? – you ask. As soon as she appeared on the street, thousands of Bethuliah people, rushed to the feet of the heroine crying for happiness and gratitude and turning their prayers to her in ecstasy: Judith, our savior Judith, warrior Judith, sacred be your name, Judith, Judith, Judith… The head of Holofernes was raised on a shield like a banner and put up on the battlements of the city walls. And Judith led a victorious procession through the city in a palanquin carried by four young men from the most respected families.

 

After the horrors she saw, after three sleepless nights, after playing with death, her face seemed white as a sheet under the blue canopy. Large, black, feverishly burning eyes slowly wandered through the crowd in search of the one, that man for whom she went on this madness. Her hands —hands that had cut off the head of a merciless enemy—rested on soft armrests, high breasts quivered, curls of black hair were tugged caressingly in the breeze. Oh, how charming and majestic Judith was in the hour of her triumph! There was not a single man left in Bethuliah who could take his eyes off this enchanting picture. Pushing, stretching their necks, stumbling over stones, forgetting about everything in the world, they crowded around the palanquin, ready to give her anything, even their own heads, for the sake of a single favorable look from Judith! If she said, let’s say, “now, I want a live ostrich”, and everyone without hesitation would rush into the desert to catch a swift-footed bird and run after it until they collapsed.

 

When the night fell on the town and Judith took refuge in her house, the men crowded around the high fence for a long time, and finally dispersing to their homes, they loitered like sleepy flies, the work fell out of their hands – Judith still stood before their eyes, the exceptional Judith, the warrior Judith, wonderful your name be Judith, Judith, Judith…

 

You have probably already guessed that such a turn of events could not please the Bethuliah women. On the first day – so be it, on the first day they praised and blessed the savior of the city themselves, raised the children higher so that they could see the heroine with their own eyes. But the second day went by, followed by the third, the fourth, and the men wouldn’t let it go…

 

Excuse me, low long can this last? Enough is enough!

 

It all started quite innocently, without any conspiracy, even, as it were, to the greater glory of Judith herself. That morning – it was the fifth morning after her triumphant return – Judith was going to visit her niece. But hadn’t she stepped outside the gate, she saw that she was surrounded by an ever-increasing crowd of admirers. One of them, more sassier than others, approached her and asked the widow:

 

“Tell me, Judith, did you have to pull the sword of Holofernes from its scabbards, or was it already unsheathed?”

 

The silence fell upon the crowd as everyone was curiously listening to what Judith would answer. She eagerly began to tell how it all happened as she was suddenly interrupted by a neighbor down the street, whose husband also swallowed dust, prancing in the crowd accompanying Judith.

“And yours,” the neighbor shouted, “where was your sword? And where were you yourself? What stopped you from sneaking into the Assyrian camp at night, even if you disguised yourself in women’s clothes? Judith would certainly have given you her best skirt and smeared it with the most fragrant myrrh if you cut the throat of the Assyrian yourself! Look at him, he considers himself a man. Shame on you!” she added, turning to her friends.

 

The sassy man retreated as if he had been hit on the head with a fur full of wine.

 

“Because of such roosters,” the second woman supported the companion, “our poor widow had to do something other than her own.”

 

“Get out of here, chicken hero!” shouted at the same curious guy the third woman.

 

The young man’s face turned red. Like a frightened hare, he darted off to the side and disappeared into the labyrinth of streets.

 

Admirers of Judith, afraid to hear such a thing in their address, slowed down and trudged after their goddess at a distance. But, as you know, there is no force that can shut a woman’s mouth when she has already opened it.

 

“Their only courage is to spin around a brave woman!” the first remark stung the men.

 

“They couldn’t even dare to pull out a single hair from an Assyrian leader, let alone his head!”

 

“Why are you like this?” Judith tried to protect the men. “After all, they defended Bethuliah to the last minute…”

 

“Defended?” the women interrupted. “Oh, they defended us so well that if it weren’t for your courage, we’d see only firebrands smoking in pools of blood here. They’re such great defenders that a weak widow had to take up a sword!”

 

“If I were a man, I would burn with shame, I would not even dare to stick my nose out of my house! And here they are, showing off like peacocks, spreading their tail in front of the one who did their work. Shame on you! Kick them out, Judith, kick them as if they were mad dogs!”

 

“Eternal disgrace has been brought upon our city!”

 

“Everyone will point fingers now!”

 

Moreover, one lady threw a bucket of slop directly into the crowd of men, as if it were by accident.

 

“You know what?” suddenly suggested one of the screamers. “One of them should have their heads chopped off for cowardice!”

 

– That’s right!

 

“Judith, let Judith cut it off, it’s not the first time for her! Judith, here’s a kitchen knife for you!”

 

Screams, laughter, curses, threats – everything mixed up into a ball, or rather, into a lightning, the only salvation from which was to run away…

 

The next day, not a single man dared to follow Judith even from a distance. And if by chance he ran into her on the street, he hurried to turn aside until they doused him with slops – literally and figuratively. Everything changed so fast that the poor widow did not even have time to figure out what had happened. Maybe, she thought, women are so proud of her that they have lost their sense of proportion and all consideration? She might pass by some yard and heard women’s teachings addressed to their husbands:

 

“Run! Why are you standing like a log? For your goddess is coming. Crawl, lick her sandals, you owe her your life. Well, what are you waiting for?.. Eh, you coward, you can’t even properly thank the woman who taught you a lesson of courage. Shame on you! Look, baby,” – the woman lifted the baby over the fence, “look and remember: this is the only man in our city!”

 

Yes, Judith could no longer help but see that the sparks of delight in the eyes of the men had gone; instead, she saw irritation and even hatred in their eyes. However, the widow did not take all this personally: she was waiting for the return of her beloved, who, along with other warriors, pursued the retreating enemies to snatch the loot from them. Simon will return, and everything will be fine, she will no longer be alone with her glory, rumors will subside, she will feel safe with him. And now, when the crowd of fans seemed to have disappeared, when she faced the unexpected loneliness and even fear of people (especially of women), now the melancholy just ate her up.

 

One day Judith suddenly finds out that the soldiers returned from the chase two days ago. She can’t believe it: two days, it’s been two days since her Simon returned and doesn’t even show his face?! Without thinking about what people will say, she rushes to his house – hurry, hurry! – and forcefully opens the gate:

 

“Simon!”

 

He was packing things. Donkeys were waiting in the yard, ready for a long journey. Oh, just a few more minutes – and he would have left.

 

“Simon, what happened?”

 

Silence.

 

“Simon, it’s me, Judith, don’t you recognize me? Maybe your eyes are hurt?”

 

No answer.

 

She hugs her loved one, turns his head towards her, wants to meet the gaze, read the answer in his eyes.

 

“Simon, please, tell me what happened?”

 

Tormented by a sob, she sinks to the ground at his feet. But Simon’s hands, with not malice but decisively, push her away. His voice is heard in the courtyard: “Whoa, let’s go!”, the hooves of the retreating donkeys clatter…

 

Only later did Judith find out what had befallen upon him. Had Simon appeared on the streets of the city – dusty, tired, but full of the joy of victory and longing for his loved women – when a flurry of ridicule and reproaches fell upon him:

 

“Finally returned? What a hero! No wonder Judith fell in love with you. Such a clever guy – he couldn’t go to the Assyrians himself so he sent a weak woman there… He didn’t use the sword himself but rather put it into weak female hands. It’s much easier to run after a defeated enemy, right? If only he wasn’t a hero! You brought dishonor on our city! What are we supposed to tell our sons when they grow up? That the swords of their fathers turned out to be weaker than a woman’s skirt? And all because of this coward!”

 

Who do you think bullied him, who dishonored him? Women? Oh, no, they have already done their job. Now men picked up and diligently their women’s discourse.

 

Staggering, as if he were drunk, Simon wandered home and locked himself up there, deciding to commit suicide or leave Bethuliah. And so he left, leaving Judith lying in complete despair on the stone slabs of the courtyard…

 

The poor woman was forced to drag the heavy burden of her fame alone. The widow seemed to have gone deaf and blind. Like a ghost, she slipped out into the city, hiding her eyes, blackened, silent. No one approached her, not even the dogs.

 

“This is our saint,” the women followed her from a distance. “Our holy savior Judith.”

 

Now they themselves incited men:

 

“Why are you standing there like chumps? Approach her! Say a kind word, see her off, let her know that we are grateful to her. Don’t you see how lonely she is, how she drooped, how she lost her power of speech because of loneliness… Our Savior, may her eternal glory be with her!”

 

Pity in their voices mixed up with satisfaction; after all, they managed to raise this men’s idol to a pedestal of such a height that no other human being could reach Judith.

 

However, Judith did not put up with her fate. The gloomy loneliness had an exciting effect on her imagination. More often than not, images of her visit to Holofernes’ tent surfaced in her memory. Again and again she saw the Assyrian commander: here he wipes drops of wine from his mustache; here he offers her the juiciest pomegranate; he begs her to sing, sends his friends and servants away to stay alone with her…

 

My God, he was the last man who held her in his strong arms, the last who gave her his strength and love. And she cut his head off with his own sword, so trustingly and carelessly thrown next to the bed… She chopped it off for the sake of her beloved man, and he, frightened by the woman’s tongues, ran away from her – from a woman who was not afraid of the death itself! They pushed her into the abyss of black loneliness, such loneliness that she even forgot the smell of male sweat! So why did she even have to sacrifice herself?

 

The Assyrian commander was not afraid to let her into his tent, he did not order the guards to stand behind him during the feast, he was so brave and noble that he sent away his guards, fell asleep unarmed… Oh, this man would not have left the last word for a woman, he would not have fled away on a donkey! He would have stood up for himself and for her against these bastards – her fellow citizens … And she? She’s used these hands to…  

Where is his proud, desperate head, which she dragged to the city that night choking with vanity?

Nobody cared about why Judith often began to wander around the city walls, rummaging through the slopes and ditches overgrown with shrubs… Finally she found what she was looking for: a completely gnawed by dogs and mice skull. And you know what? She took it home. Like on that memorable night. Even in the same basket, covered with fruit on top.

That is why Judith is usually depicted in this position: sitting, holding a head or skull on her laps, and looking into the distance with a strange, mysterious gaze… And only a few, very few people understand what she really feels.


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