Me and My Mother, Singing: a trilingual story by Oleg Pupovac
Oleg Pupovac is talented actor and writer who will be preforming a one-man show this March, as a part of the 2020 UnWrapped series at the Sydney Opera House. The Yugoslavian-Australian actor created “Me and My Mother, Singing” with the intention to tell his semi-autobiographical story about a man searching for his father through paintings of snow, in the three languages he was surrounded by when growing up, English, Arabic and Serbo-Croatian.
Read more about Oleg’s solo performance Me and My Mother, Singing below!
How have your experiences of living in Yugoslavia, the Middle East and Australia shaped your work?
For this show, my experiences have shaped me almost entirely, as this show draws from them directly. They have shaped my general work almost in every way; living in completely different scenery, I was exposed to different languages, customs, architecture, literature, art, dangers. I feel so lucky that in my adolescent years I was surrounded by these amazing places.
I was born in a place Caravaggio was born, I am from a place Ivo Andrić was from, lived in a place where Khalil Gibran lived, and now live in a place where Albert Namatjira lived too.
What would you say are the biggest differences between each nation?
I would say self-identity, maybe. We all see ourselves differently; it’s usually a combination of how we are perceived, how we think we are perceived, and how we think we should be perceived. I think it’s no different with countries or regions.
When you live in different places as a foreigner you must be in tune with your own perceptions and how you are perceived.
It can be quite beautiful, because in your attempt to get used to a culture or custom you adapt yourself, and while that may seem negative (and sometimes it is), you often find a marriage within yourself and the place’s imposed customs or rules. We adapt, then grow together.
What can people expect to see from your UnWrapped show, Me and My Mother, Singing?
As the only performer in the show my experience has only been an internal one, however, I think the audience can expect storytelling, acting, some singing, some reciting, some WhatsApp messages from my sisters, beautiful paintings and some of my mother singing.
The entire show is a display of pieces of this man, and they don’t necessarily provide answers, but I hope the audience gets some pieces of this man they can then take with them. Maybe they meet someone similar in the future with these same pieces.
What was the main inspiration for the show?
I think it was my awareness of how lucky I was to have the life I did. Using my own experiences and thoughts to inform this character and present pieces of him to others for consideration made sense. Then the direct inspiration came from places I have lived and experiences I have had, which then inspired this man to come to life (or at least pieces of him).
But also, art, beautiful art, and paintings of snow. How can Cezanne, Pisarro, Monet not inspire?
Why do you think it is important for this show to be performed in three languages; English, Serbo-Croatian and Arabic?
These are the languages I was surrounded by growing up, two of which I speak fluently. Language is intrinsically connected to how we express ourselves, and I don’t mean just linguistically, but our gestures, thoughts and emotions are all somehow connected to language. So, I don’t know if it’s important, they simply make sense to me, and hopefully to others.
Anything further to add?
I hope the audience has moments in the show to love or hate, to sympathise or scrutinise this man. The story seems personal, and it is, but it’s personal to many, and I hope the audience feels free enough to disagree where they disagree, and love where they love. I am open to all and any reactions to it.
The works I admire the most are works I feel strongly about, my hope is that this work is good enough to make someone feel strongly. Thank you.
If you would like to know more about this performance, click HERE