Svadba, a Serbian “wedding ceremony” poetically explores the preparation of the bride the night before the ceremony. Milica and five of her closest friends – as they prepare for the wedding day.
The action is set in seven scenes, each of which illuminates different aspects of the traditions and rituals associated with marriage. Invoking Slavic and Balkan folk tales and myth, the scenes carry a mystical charm, but also a universal cultural theme. The narrative is abstract, rather than linear or literal, investigating Milica’s relationship with family, friends, culture, God, and her spouse-to-be.
The first two scenes consider the duality of a wedding as both the end of one phase of life and the beginning of another. In the first scene, Milica’s friends extol youth and grace– dancing, singing, and weaving garlands to match Milica’s beauty. Her friends rejoice despite acknowledging that Milica will soon leave them, and that Milica’s mother will need consoling. The second scene explores a cultural association between dyes and rites of passage; Milica’s friends color her hair to mark her departure from home and family.
The following two scenes are whimsical role-playing games. In the third scene, the women parody the groom by playing a man intent on stealing a bride from a gated house grounds. The fourth scene is full of teasing and banter, often calling on sounds of animals like goats and roosters that are often associated with bridal gifts.
The last three scenes focus on the theme of preparation, and explore how ritual is used to navigate the emotional transition of marriage. Scene five portrays bathing on the night before the wedding, while scene six finds Milica dressing at dawn on the morning of the ceremony. The seventh and final scene returns again to the idea of marriage as detachment from family and kin, as a grape detaches from a vine. The last advice of Milica’s friends is not to lament or shed any tears, but rather to go off without thinking twice!