War and Peace at the Theatre of Exile


By Cameron S. Boyd

MELBOURNE — A recent art exhibition, War and Peace, staged in the Universal Theatre, represents a new direction for Budinski's Theatre of Exile, which has previously concentrated on the performing arts.

Tania Bistrin, artist and director of Budinski's Theatre of Exile, explained, "War and Peace grew out of a conversation I had with Phillip Doggett-Williams, who is an artist. He wanted to make a statement about peace. I've been thinking about war a lot lately, because my own country [Serbia] is at war.

"When your own country is at war and your own people are suffering, it makes you more aware of the suffering of other people. I feel that what we're doing with this exhibition is just a little drop in the ocean of what really should be done. Part of an artist's role is to step outside of the society that they are in, look at it and comment on it. It's an artist's responsibility to comment intelligently and, if possible, positively on what they see.

"At the opening, we lit a candle for the people in Sarajevo who are suffering, and also for all the people all over the world who are suffering. That was just one small candle, but there was a very warm feeling here; people are glad to be a part of it."

War and Peace presented the work of several dozen artists, many of whom fled war in the countries of their birth. Tania describes Australia as a country made up of refugees. Many migrants have entered Australia due to conflicts. Now, war has directly affected Budinski's Theatre: Tahir Cambis, its co-founder, has been shot and wounded in Sarajevo.

Budinski's Theatre began with Cambis and Mark Stradford, who were looking for a place "where they had freedom to put on their own pieces; a place where people in the performing arts could try out new concepts in a less formal atmosphere and where unfunded groups could put pieces on".

Budinski's was also conceived as a meeting place where people from different areas of the performing arts could network: writers, actors, dancers, costume designers and painters. When Tahir Cambis left for Yugoslavia to make a documentary on the war, Tania Bistrin took over direction.

Groups helping to make the exhibition possible were the Footscray Community Arts Centre, Amnesty International, the Ministry of the Arts and the Sydney National Gallery.

"We now think that we would like to do this exhibition again on a much larger scale; involve more people because we didn't have enough time to research enough to find artists who are working on the rin. "Budinski's Theatre covers a wide variety of areas — theatre, music, dance, poetry, writing and art. We're always looking for good quality material."

Anyone who has anything they would like to contribute to the Budinski's Theatre should can ring Tania Bistrin on (03) 489-3508.

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