The City Assembly of Belgrade has named theatre director Nikita Milivojević as the new artistic director of the Belgrade International Theatre Festival – BITEF.
Nikita Milivojević is one of the most prominent theatre directors in Serbia with a career spanning more than three decades. He has directed in the most important theatres across Serbia, mostly working on performances based on classical texts. Some of his most recent performances include Macbeth at Belgrade Drama Theatre, Rhinoceros at Novi Sad Theatre, Bosnian Chronicle and The Crucible, both at the Serbian National Theatre in Novi Sad. He has directed some performances based on contemporary texts, like the performance U potpalublju at the Yugoslav Drama Theatre in 1996, based on Vladimir Arsenijević’s novel of the same name that received the NIN literary award. Milivojević is currently directing Rabies at the Sombor National Theatre, a show based on the thriller-horror novel by Borislav Pekić.
Milivojević also has a notable international career, and has worked as a director in the United Kingdom, USA, Germany, Sweden, Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Turkey and the countries of the post-Yugoslav region.
He has won numerous theatrical awards, including the award for theatre direction “Bojan Stupica”, several Sterija awards for direction, the critics awards of the Theatre Arts Review Journal Scena and the newspaper Politika’s award for best direction at the 31st BITEF. He also received numerous annual theatre awards from theatres like the National Theatre in Belgrade, the Serbian National Theatre in Novi Sad, the Yugoslav Drama Theatre, and the Little Theatre “Duško Radović.”
Nikita Milivojević was the executive director of BITEF Theatre from 2005-2009. He is also a full-time professor of directing and acting at the Academy of Arts in Novi Sad.
In 2014, Milivojević initiated the Shakespeare Festival that’s held every June in an open-air setting of Čortanovci, a small village near Novi Sad. Since he’s known for his directions of Shakespeare’s plays, this was a logical step in the director’s career. Shakespeare Festival showcases international and contemporary productions of William Shakespeare’s plays.
Milivojević was also on the jury of the 2017 Sterijino pozorje festival when the jury made the controversial decision not to award any shows that were in competition. The decision came as the jury was not satisfied with the quality of the selected works and wanted to underline that Serbian theatre was in a state of crisis. But a substantial part of the public saw the decision as an irresponsible and vain move.
On 21st February, Nikita Milivojević was named the artistic director of BITEF after Ivan Medenica’s departure from the role after seven years. The City of Belgrade didn’t renew his mandate which expired in December 2023. In an interview in Danas, noting that the work on the selection typically starts a year to a year and a half before the festival, Medenica described the city management’s attitude toward culture as “incompetent and irresponsible” because it is naming the new artistic director so late in the year. In the same Danas interview, he also described previous pressures to resign in 2017 because of his support from the Ne Davimo Beograd (Don’t Let Belgrade Drown) movement.
Further reading: Ivan Mendenica announces his departure from BITEF
Further reading: review of Macbeth directed by Nikita Milivojević
Borisav Matić is a critic and dramaturg from Serbia. He is the Regional Managing Editor at The Theatre Times. He regularly writes about theatre for a range of publications and media.
He’s a member of the feminist collective Rebel Readers with whom he co-edits Bookvica, their platform for literary criticism, and produces literary shows and podcasts. He occasionally works as a dramaturg or a scriptwriter for theatre, TV, radio and other media. He's the administrator of IDEA - the International Drama/Theatre and Education Association.