Week 29 | Artist 29: Created to Create 2016 | Sanja Mikitisin, Actress
Sanja has been an ensemble member at the Novi Sad National Theatre in Serbia, playing a wide range of leading roles for the past five years. Prior experience includes “Tosa Jovanovic” Theatre in Zrenjanin, Serbia, where she was an ensemble member for eight years. At the very beginning of her professional career, she worked for Kikinda Theatre in Kikinda, Serbia. Ms. Mikitisin trained at Belgrade Academy of Dramatic Arts in Belgrade, Yugoslavia.
Where were you born?
Novi Sad, Serbia
Where do you live/work?
Novi Sad, Serbia
What fuels your desire to act?
Pushing through my own boundaries is what continues to motivate me in acting work. Self -inquiry and asking questions that have to do with my intimate world, within the larger context of the world we live in, is a great force to keep me searching. Through this kind of self-inquiry, I get to know the world around me and deepen my experience of self through the characters I play.
I enjoy pushing the boundaries of things I know or take for granted as a human - boundaries of my own capacity for compassion. Through theatre work, I get to feel and understand other people in a deeper sense. I like to think that I understand what characters in each play we work on might be
Thanks to my acting work, I feel I am growing into a more reasonable, calmer, and peaceful human. Specific creative processes I go through while creating a character, as well as deep analysis while researching for a play, have given me more freedom and strengthened my longing to be more free in life and art. I also am learning how connected our micro cosmoses are and how deeply connected we all are as humanity.
How did your study at The Belgrade Academy of Dramatic Arts positively
impact your professional acting work?
Training at the Belgrade Academy of Dramatic Arts was a fantastic foundation in beginning my professional life, but I have gained just as much working professionally with colleagues and directors (particularly from those artists with different views on theatre or from different generations).
At the very beginning of venturing into work after graduation, I felt that I knew nothing. Time in theatre has shown me that my school was an excellent one. I started digging deeper into myself and found things in self, thanks to many ways of approaching work, that I was fortunate to receive at our Academy- which all became much more apparent after graduation.
In recent years, my work has begun to feel more like play, and my belief in play itself, as well as into imaginary worlds or the particular show we are working on, have become more like one of a child. I was especially inspired by elements of craft that I learned in school and use to this day in my process. Although, I have to thank my consistent practice on stage (I was very lucky to be consistently rehearsing and performing for many years now) for my focus; diving into a character have become more like a reflex. I have also noticed that practice of using elements of craft I first learned in school is something that gives me a strong anchor not only in Theatre, but also in Television work as well as film work. The more I practice, the more ease I am gaining in creating results.
I like to think of myself (when I am at my best) as an actress who comes prepared; with an idea and an offering, an actress with high level of energy in rehearsal, who is ready to fight for artistic truth in working with self. I think I possess a high level of concentration while working; all of these
elements I was fortunate to learn at Belgrade Academy of Dramatic Arts.
Who were your strongest creative influences?
It is hard to name some and omit the rest. I am strongly influenced by directors I work with. Radoslav Milenkovic, an Actor/Director who directed me in my first professional show, taught me so much, simply leading by example. I learned from his devotion, enthusiasm, sense of play, high energy, knowledge and wished to translate those qualities in my own work. While working with him, I recognized some elements of myself that lead me order to push boundaries. I feel that being directed by Mr. Milenkovic gave me wings to create strong work in one of the first mature roles of my life.
Egon Savin is another example of an inspiring director; I am particularly inspired by his intelligent, thoughtful and specific way of seeking truth. Egon seeks truthfulness in words and expression, regardless of the particular genre we work on. Mr. Savin is, in my view, an amazing role model for young actors to deepen their craft while being directed by him.
Maja Milos, a Film Director, is an inspiring young, non-compromising woman artist with a huge heart. I have learned so much from her about creating ease while living in a film reality.
I am also influenced by directors and artists who have awakened in me a responsible, socially active public persona- that part of me that wants to try do good for society and be aware of the context we live in and the moment in history. I became aware that I want to ask questions, I ask self and others: Where are we going as a society? I want to take responsibility for this moment in time and do good.
What is the most inspiring part of your work?
Rehearsals are my favorite part of creative process. I enjoy all of the sweet pains of digging, scratching, bleeding, crying, saying no to other things so I can keep working- all these things are not precious parts of creating an art piece in my case, but a character. This process makes artists so close, sharing this process, puzzle pieces of trying to create a play - we share pain and joy in the ensemble, while we walk as a family towards a common goal of rehearsing. A performance at its best is a result of good teamwork. The more an ensemble can be open with each other and closer throughout the process, the more they have a common language while creating. The play is then all the better and to be more enjoyed by the audience.
I speak from experience in working in ensemble based Repertory Theatres for years; just after we open a show, I experience a short period of mourning that our rehearsal process has finished. And even though there is great joy and continuation of developing, growing, changing, and finding new things every night on stage, for me nothing compares to the real intimacy of rehearsal process - a process that resembles a true laboratory where we explore and play. After we open a play, usually after a few months of working toward it, I cherish the time I have at my home; as well planning short trips to nature with dear friends and family as a way of recharging my battery.
The best thing about being an actor is….
What I most enjoy about being an actor is wrestling with characters who contrast to who I am as a person. This process of discovering character is so inspiring and exciting; I love diving into their world, which is foreign to me - diving into the unknown. I love stepping further into this imaginary world of play, and starting to feel that I am “conquering “ it, so to speak, to understand it to the fullest. I love to feel that this world becomes mine, and I begin to own it, understand it, feel it in myself, and even defend it. I love to travel throughout the world and learn the story of the play - it is a magical journey in which I never know where it will take me or when the adventure will end.
Would you share any rituals of preparation that are helpful in your work?
For almost twenty years now, I have been “ talking to myself” and talking to the character I am working on. It might sound silly, but I feel this part of work increases my focus and enables me to enter the world I am about to be a part of as my character. While I work, I do not seek total quiet, total isolation, but the contrary. All of the sounds that are already in space, I continue to be aware of. I do retreat into my own space and start talking to my character; we have a deep conversation. On my way to the theatre, I repeat my text aloud; I do not mind people looking at me in wonder. These actions while preparing have become sort of ritual. I enjoy this short walk to my theatre and often feel like it lasts only a fleeting moment.
What is your biggest obstacle in working with self?
What bothers me most are times when I don't have peace at home in my space, which I feel is my anchor, my safe space. I feel that the most important thing is having a safe space, personal peace, and support from people close to you. As a parent to my child, I do have constant worries, around various elements of my child’s upbringing. I feel that all together we worry too much.
This worry, self-inquiry and lack of understanding from the closest people to us can be very damaging for our art and our instrument (body, heat, emotions). I fear losing my peace, losing this precious balance between the family and work that I love, and I am constantly on guard to safe keep my space, while creating within my family life. I am very protective and tender to my family and close ones and expect the same from them. I fear the possibility of not being able to work and for me, I think ability to work comes from my family and professional life being in harmony. Both art and family make me feel complete. My personal life is my inhale and my artistic work is my exhale. Both of these worlds make me feel whole. I could not do without one or the other.
In 2016, SUPER SPACE is serving as a vehicle to facilitate Created to Create Project.
CREATED TO CREATE
INTRODUCING ONE ARTIST PER WEEK, FOR 52 WEEKS IN 2016.
Beginning, January, 1st, 2016
ACTORS, ARTISTS, THEATRE MAKERS, FILM MAKERS, DESIGNERS, TEACHING ARTISTS, STUDENTS all chosen because they spend a part each day creating. Artists will be chosen in no particular order.
Introduce artists from different parts of the world. People who use different mediums and whose practice is at a different skill level. A thing they all have in common is unique sense of style and self-expression.