This post is also available in: hrvatski (Croatian)
As part of the Equality Week, which began on the 50th World Roma Day, last Friday the play “LOOKATME“ by Roman Nikolić starring young Siniša Senad Mušić and Severina Lajtman – SOLIDARNA Foundation scholarship holder.
Although the play “LOOKATME” has been performed since 2017, last week’s performance was the first with a new cast, in which Severina Lajtman plays one of the main roles. Severina is a high school student at a Private Art High School in Zagreb, and in this show, in her main role she presented the perspective of the lives of young Roma men and women in the Republic of Croatia, and the discrimination they face from the earliest days.
Growing up in poor conditions, going to school, and dealing with colleagues, a social climate that is just trying to find a reason to “justify” its hatred and intolerance of anyone who is any different, are something that Roma women and men face every day. In the play “LOOKATME”, for an hour we are drawn to the strong and emotional monologues of Severina and Senad, and their dialogues that indicate and question people, interpersonal relationships, hatred that is present between us, and satirically “accept” every curse and accusation that would arrive at their address.
Playing with fellow peers in the neighborhood? Hardly if you’re a little darker in color than them. Going for a job interview? One Roma woman can’t have all those diplomas of completed schooling. Are you trying to ask someone for directions on the street? Only if you are not a Roma, because in that case, you are trying to rob someone. All this is just a small part of the intolerance and discrimination that the actors of the play felt in their lives, and what we as an audience witnessed on Friday, sitting silently in our chairs, as is often the case in public.
“The play shows specific situations that happened to me in elementary school, situations that I can tell anywhere and I have no problem with that. Now I feel better and I don’t experience such situations and I don’t experience discrimination from my friends at school. The school is not big, we are all quite like a family and I have not experienced any discrimination at all “, says Severina, who is a student at the Private Art High School in Zagreb. But to bring it all out in a play for her was challenging and difficult.
“You have to make an effort to reach the audience, for the audience to experience it. The play consists of sad moments, through sarcasm, until in the end, everything ends positively “, Severina tells us, adding that she had difficult moments at rehearsals when she thought that some scenes would not go well, but that in the end at the premiere everything turned out great.
She has been acting since primary school
Severina is also the head of the culture department of the Roma Youth Organization of Croatia, and her story with acting began in elementary school in the fifth grade, when she started going to competitions from Lidran, and continues in the sixth, seventh and eighth grade when she wins with individual stage performance.
She is currently in the third grade of the Private Art High School, and the choice of the school and the opportunities it offers her will certainly help the ambitious Severina in her further development.
“We have various workshops at the school, including a performing arts workshop. In the future, I want to enroll in the Academy of Dramatic Arts and pursue acting, which is something that interests me very much “, says Severina about her plans for the future.
Funds from the SOLIDARNA Foundation from the Desa Fund and Jerko Baković provided funds to cover Severina’s tuition at the Private Art Gymnasium, and we are extremely proud that our scholarship holder follows her dreams with her work, diligence, and talent and contributes to building a more solidary society for all of us.
“The SOLIDARNA Foundation helped me finance my school because it is private and I am grateful to heaven that they enabled me to go to school,” thanks Severina, and we wish her all the best in her further education and work.
The play “LOOKATME” that explores and speaks about identity and social relations was held as part of Equality Week – Zagreb #WakeEquality, organized by the Center for Peace Studies, the Roma Youth Organization of Croatia, and ARTERARIJ, and held in six cities across Croatia. A detailed program and more information about the event can be found here.