Miss Jugoslavia and The Barefoot Orchestra is a story of confusion, secrecy, bravery, escape and hope told through live and untamed Balkan jazz that’s led by the wildly wonderful Tania Bosak.
Desribed as a composed theatre work, it’s created and written by Borsak and directed by Margaret Cameron and was first seen in January at the MONA FOMA festival in Tasmania.
Without dialogue or a narrative, its characters are the musicians who discard any stale notions of theatre or concert etiquette in a world that refuses to stay the same (the design team are Martyn Coutts, Gina Gasgoine and Nara Demasson).
It’s easiest to discover your own story (or simply enjoy the music), but it was created from the remarkable story of Australian-born Bosak’s father’s defection from the former Jugoslavia to Belgium in 1958, which she learnt about in 1991 when here nationality changed to Croation overnight and her runner up Miss Jugoslavia title became meaningless.
Their stories of escape and family secrets are in the program and, with this knowledge, it’s not hard to see their lives on the stage. But not everyone buys a program and without knowing those stories, it’s easy to get lost in a search for meaning. With so much mad delight on the stage, I wonder how much stronger it could be if more of the inspiring stories were made clearer.
But nothing can hide the contagious passion and love that created this piece, and anything that includes a chamber orchestra of piano accordions immediately makes the world a better place to be.