‘This is still taboo’: queer teens and their families embrace gay comedy in Serbia

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03/05/2024

The hurling of a salad bowl to the floor might not sound like the most dramatic of moments, but it sent a ripple of recognition through the audience at the National theatre in Pirot, south-eastern Serbia, on a mid-February evening. The salad bowl incident took place midway through Our Son, a moving and funny play by Patrik Lazić, a young writer and director from Pula in Croatia, about the relationship between a young gay man (Amar Ćorović) and his parents (Dragana Varagić and Aleksandar Đinđić). The play takes place over the course of an emotionally fraught family dinner, in which it is very apparent the young man’s parents are still struggling to come to terms with his sexuality. They continually blame each other and themselves. Eventually things spill over. Tears are shed. Salad bowls are upended. Though Pirot, a relatively culturally underserved town in the south of Serbia, is considered socially conservative in comparison with cosmopolitan Belgrade, the audience contained a noticeable mix of generations, including a class from the local high school who had been brought by their teacher. Though the topics explored by the play remain sensitive in Serbia, the majority of the audience responded warmly to the show. There was a sense that, for many, this play was fulfilling a need. “My friend’s family is going through the same thing,” one woman said to me afterwards.

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