Novi Bečej and Vranjevo through History

Explore the extraordinary past of Novi Bečej and Vranjevo through the pages of the book 'Novi Bečej and Vranjevo through History.' Uncover political events, economic development, and cultural heritage of these Banat towns through richly documented stories. Follow the evolution from the earliest days to the present, delving into the intricate threads of political intrigues, economic transformations, and cultural ascensions. Experience the past through the eyes of the author as the pages of the book unfold before you, providing a unique perspective on the life and legacy of these significant locales.

Joca Savić, actor, director, theater educator, and publicist
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Joca Savić, actor, director, theater educator, and publicist

was born in Novi Bečej on May 10, 1847. His father Vasilije was a merchant, and his mother Marija was an Austrian housewife. Their house was located on the corner of Jaša Tomić Street and Revolution Street.

In Novi Bečej, he completed three grades of elementary school, and at just under ten years of age, he moved to Vienna with his parents, where he continued his education. After completing high school (his father wanted Joca to continue his studies and become an architect), Joca, much to his parents' regret, followed in the footsteps of his older brother and became an actor. An opportunity presented itself immediately after finishing high school.

As a high school student, as written by his friend Teodor Stefanović-Vilovski, Joca played the role of Karl Moor in Schiller's "The Robbers" at a school event. The director of the Imperial Theater in Vienna, Heinrich Laube, who attended the event, noticed Joca's performance and recommended that he pursue acting, promising to help him reach the Burgtheater, of course, after first verifying his talent in other theaters for which he would provide recommendations.

Our researchers dispute that it was Laube who noticed him first, but rather Adolf Sonental, who invited him. Sonental allegedly also gave him his first acting lessons. Although Vilovski wrote his memories thirty-five years or more after Joca's departure from the Burgtheater, it seems more plausible that Laube was the first to notice Joca, and Sonental was the greatest actor of the Burgtheater at the time and a member of the directing committee, so it is hard to believe he would be interested in the acting of a student. Sonental started giving lessons to Savić thanks to the intervention of the Serbian Pere Čokić, a wealthy Viennese banker who was also a friend of Sonental's.

Before becoming an actor, Joca was allegedly cross-eyed. This was noticed at the mentioned school performance by the then most famous Viennese ophthalmologist, Dr. Arlt, who was also impressed by Joca's acting and suggested an operation. After the operation performed by Dr. Arlt, Joca became a "perfectly handsome and well-built young man."

At the beginning of his acting career, as written by Vilovski, Savić received several good engagements and a permanent position at the court theater in Weimar. It was not a big city, but it was distinguished, famous for its giants Goethe and Schiller. He quickly became a favorite of the audience and gained great favor at court. However, all this was not enough for Joca because he was drawn to Vienna, where his late mother's relatives lived, and where he had many friends.

His wish was fulfilled quite quickly; he received an invitation from the Burgtheater and came to Vienna. There he received an engagement to substitute for the main actors in romantic and heroic roles. He was soon warmly welcomed by the audience and theater critics; he became especially popular among the female staff of the theater because he was handsome, modest, and reserved. At first, this did not bother anyone, but as Joca became more popular and appeared more frequently on stage in significant roles, some individuals feared for themselves. Among them, as Vilovski writes, were "envious Sonental and the like." Directors stopped giving him roles. This lasted for almost a year, when Joca left the Burgtheater, returning to Weimar, where he received an invitation to act as the first lover, with a higher salary than he had previously.

In Weimar, Savić spent about fifteen years until 1884 when he moved to Mannheim as the director of the local theater. His move to Mannheim also meant his final retirement from the stage as an actor. He spent the happiest years of his life at the theater of Goethe and Schiller in Weimar, from his twenty-second to his thirty-seventh year. He married the actress Luiza Šari, a German. For the first four or five years, he was a favorite of the Grand Duke and the Weimar audience as an excellent actor, and later as a director. Nevertheless, he left all that in 1884 and moved to Mannheim, from where he soon moved to Munich as the chief director of the court theater. The Munich theater then, after Vienna's, was considered the best German theater. He remained there for almost thirty years.

Before leaving Weimar, he was elected an honorary member of the Frentano Academy in Larino, as a recognition, and for his contributions to art and science, he was awarded a gold medal with a crown. His popularity in Weimar is illustrated by an article from that period. It states how Weimar bid farewell to Joca Savić when he left for Mannheim. His farewell performance in Weimar was attended by a packed audience, which did not spare in showing their affection for the beloved actor. The ovations were unprecedented. The celebrant received over sixty wreaths, each more beautiful than the other.

Joca's desire for further proof of himself took him, after a year in Mannheim, to Munich, where on March 28, 1896, he was appointed the chief director and deputy dramaturge at the local theater. He also quickly achieved success in Munich, and the management of the Royal Bavarian Theater promoted him to "royal chief director of acting." This news was commented on by German newspapers in the most commendable manner, such as: "This news will undoubtedly cause joyous approval in all circles of art lovers in our city because although there are few who have a clear idea of extensive, responsible, and strenuous directorial work, it will still not be unknown to many how much our theater owes to this finely educated artist. Congratulations are due not only to the artist for the award and promotion, which he has long deserved, but also to the management and the court theater itself, which can console themselves that they have constantly obligated themselves to their first and best advisor, for whom many theaters eagerly looked."

Just as he reached his acting zenith in Weimar, he rose to become a top director in Munich. There, in 1899, he founded the Shakespearean stage. In twenty-one years of directing, he directed 311 performances, or 335 different plays, and was considered one of the best European directors.

In addition to being an excellent actor and perhaps even better director, he was no less as a writer in theater art and theater theory. His work as a theater scholar, writer, and theorist is very significant. It consists of two extensive books, a series of studies, translations, articles, and lectures. He translated from French and English into German and even corrected Schiller's translations of Shakespeare.

Joca was also a successful educator and contributed greatly to the creation of a comprehensive system for training actors. He was persistent as a practitioner—advocating for a law on actor pensions.

Joca Savić was considered an exceptional figure in the history of European, and perhaps even world, theater.

Although he devoted his entire life to the German stage and German literature, his attachment to his homeland remained uninterrupted. Many of our compatriots turned to him for help, and as much as his abilities allowed, he found understanding for them.

Among the exceptional personalities who needed his

help was the young Belgrade actor Dobrica Milutinović, and later Vitomir Bogić. Joca patiently and diligently worked with Dobrica as an educator. Some writers and critics consider the encounter between Joca Savić and Dobrica Milutinović to be one of the greatest encounters in the history of Serbian theater. Dobrica said of Joca, "He was strict but tactful and exceptionally attentive."

Joca Savić's unrealized wish, while he was still an actor, was to perform on the Belgrade stage, and later as a director, to at least direct a play in Belgrade when he failed to perform as an actor. He did not realize this wish because of our people's fault. Everyone who visited him invited him to come to Belgrade. Everyone promised, but no one took any serious action for his arrival.

However, it is comforting that he was not completely forgotten in his homeland. In September 1903, the Serbian government awarded him the Order of St. Sava III class, and in April 1904, at the proposal of the management of the National Theater, he was appointed an honorary director of the National Theater in Belgrade.

About Joca Savić, our Novi Bečej giant, quite a bit was written, but nowhere near as much as his work deserves. His modern understanding of Shakespeare and translations of his works are increasingly being studied worldwide. Unfortunately, very little has been translated into our language to this day. According to information from Matica srpska, work is underway in collaboration with the Academy of Arts of Vojvodina on a joint project entitled "Joca Savić and His Work," which may remove or at least alleviate the past injustice towards this giant.

Joca Savić died in Munich on May 7, 1915, at the age of sixty-eight.

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