– solo choreodrama

This dance and drama solo created by the choreographer Žak Valenta and the artist Vera Mitrović Vrbanac (who also performs it), explores and portrays the life and the work of the writer and teacher Dragojla Jarnević.

The chosen diary entries and metaphorical scenes filtered through movement and words, and complemented by the video projection which provides a multi-media modern frame, reveal the intriguing biography of this woman who lived in the 19th century, which correlates with the challenges of our time.

At the time when she lived (Karlovac, January 4, 1812 – Karlovac, March 12, 1875), this remarkable woman was a pioneer of progressive thinking and living, advocating the social, economic, and political equality of the sexes, and pressing for the equal rights on education and participation in political and public affairs.

As a writer, she chose to write in Croatian, aware of the significance of language as the basis of identity, even though her mother tongue was German, since she was a citizen of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Jarnević was one of the most prominent members of the Illyrian Movement ( the Croatian National Revival), and her face is among the portraits of the 59 Illyrian greats  on the famous lithograph Muževi ilirske dobe

What is more, she strongly addressed various fields of social life and personal growth. An intriguing personality, aware of the social limitations and of her own potential, she consciously chose freedom of choice in all areas of life and acting upon truth at all costs.

Eleven hundred pages of her diary are a testimony to who she was and the portrait of the social life of her time. She wrote it for forty years and edited it for publishing, knowing that its value will be recognized only after her death.

Dragojla, born Karolina Jarnević, defied all social stereotypes,  both during her life and after her death. That is why the authors of this project were intrigued by her personal life, public figure and versatile interests. For she was a writer, a teacher, a feminist, a rock climber, a milliner, a member of the Illyrian Movement, a wise woman… all that and much more. 

Author and choreographer: Branko Žak Valenta
Performer and co-author: Vera Mitrović Vrbanac
Composer: Goran Ilić
Filming and video processing: Mara Prpić
Light design: Duško Richtermoc
Text: Dragojla Jarnević (from Dnevnik)
Tips with the text: Snježana Srdić
Production: Branko Žak Valenta, Art organization TRAFIK, Rijeka

The project was financed by the Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Croatia and the City of Zagreb in 2022.

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