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Billie Holiday

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Just an hour before her major perfomance in Carnagie Hall, Billie Holiday, together with her pianist, stops by the bar where she used to sing before she was arrested and sent to prison. She asks her friend, the bar owner Charlie, to let her practise a bit since she was kicked out of a rehearsal room in her hotel. During her practise, while she sings some of her most famous songs, Billie opnes her heart to Charlie and starts demanding alcohol to help her overcome her fear. At first Charlie reluctantly gives her a drink or two, but soon the situation spirals out of control and her performance in Carnagie Hall comes under a question.


When Ksenija came to me with the idea to stage the show on Billie Holiday, I found myself in a dilemma how to present decades of tempestuous life of a famous person in one single theater show. Trying to solve that "problem" the idea emerged to swing into another extreme and present only little bit more than an hour from her life, one really short and seemingly insignificant moment, the one that might tell us most about Billie Holiday. Therefore most of the facts from her life were cut out from the text, and we kept only a few historical elements: the fact that she was imprisoned due to illegal drug possession and that shortly after having left the jail she sang in Carnagie Hall to a packed audinece. Such a drastic limitation in story, place and time not only brought the text closer to the ideals of classical dramaturgy, but also enabled me as a director to focus on what I am most interested in - human emotions, that is painting a vulnerable human soul desperately trying to control her life and resist demons that prevailed her. Musical cuts adjusted naturally into the structure of the show, as an integral part of the story, in the situation when Billie was rehearsing using her good friend, the owner of a bar she stopped by announced, just before the preformance. In this amazing cooperation with Ksenija featuring Billie Holiday and Robert Kurbasa featuring her friend Charlie, I tried to discard as many outer elements as possible, trying to open human hearts on the stage and thus touch the hearts of the audience.
Croatian National Theater in Split
Ksenija Prohaska and Arsen Anton Ostojic
Arsen Anton Ostojic
Slaven Raos
Neda Makjanic-Kunic
Ivan Bozicevic
Miroslav Mamic
Damir Punda
Zlata Kovacic
Ksenija Prohaska
Robert Kurbasa
Ivan Bozicevic
PREMIERE: February 11th 2006
Arsen Anton Ostojic 2004-2016