Prima Facie – A success story of the Culture for Democracy project

Local news, 04.04.2024

The theatre performance "Prima Facie", a groundbreaking theatrical production that premiered in Serbia, at Belgrade’s Bitef Theatre in early 2024 has been a remarkable success. The production of the performance is supported through the Culture for Democracy Project, the inaugural and foundational bilateral initiative of the Swiss Government in Serbia's cultural and artistic landscape. This endeavor, aligned with the Swiss objective to provide support to independent cultural scene while fostering social cohesion and tolerance at the local level, has yielded outstanding results that resonate regionally.

Prima Facie – A success story of the Culture for Democracy project
Prima Facie – A success story of the Culture for Democracy project ©Heartefact

"Prima Facie" stands as a beacon of artistic excellence and societal impact, shedding light on the issue of sexual abuse through a meticulously crafted narrative. The play is authored by the esteemed Australian/British writer Suzie Miller, whose background in law and advocacy infuses the play with authenticity. "Prima Facie" debuted in Australia to critical acclaim, catalyzing vital discussions and advocating for systemic change within legal frameworks.

In its Serbian adaptation, the actress Masa Dakic, alongside award-winning director Anja Susa, brought this compelling story to life, captivating audiences with a thought-provoking exploration of justice, gender dynamics, and personal resilience. The play's premiere marked a milestone in cultural engagement, offering an emotional, yet humorous monologue that challenges perceptions and inspires action.

The story follows a young, self-confident, ambitious lawyer with a competitive spirit, who somehow always manages to defend men accused of sexual assault. She accepts all cases with a special challenge, firmly believing in the legal system and court processes. Until the moment when she herself becomes a victim of abuse and realizes that the levels of justice are deeply distorted.

Against the backdrop of Serbia's contemporary challenges in addressing sexual violence, "Prima Facie" assumes a profound significance. Its impact extends beyond the stage, resonating with professionals and decision-makers within the judicial system, legal academia, and women's rights organizations. Notably, the performance has garnered praise from dignitaries such as Minister of Culture Maja Gojkovic and esteemed jurists, underscoring its relevance in shaping public discourse.

Moreover, through strategic partnerships and initiatives, "Prima Facie" has reached diverse audiences, including law students, practitioners, and advocacy groups, fostering a broader dialogue on gender equity and legal reform. Further on, it aims at both inspiring and educating viewers about the critical importance of reporting the sexual abuse as a criminal act. As the play continues to tour nationwide, visiting less developed municipalities, such as Sombor, Lazarevac and Vranje, efforts to convene expert panels and engage stakeholders signal a commitment to sustained advocacy and potentially contributing to systemic change.

The theatre performance “Prima Facie” confirms Swiss dedication to advancing cultural democracy and social progress in Serbia. It has been supported with CHF 12’000 as part of the larger SDC project ‘Culture for Democracy’ that aims to contribute to strengthening the independent cultural sector to foster greater social cohesion and tolerance at the local level. The first phase of the project runs from October 2021 to February 2025, with an allocated amount of CHF 1’877’000, and is implemented by the Heartefact Foundation.