It was with great sadness that we learned of the tragic death of our much-loved and admired colleague Goran Stefanovski.
Goran was diagnosed with a brain tumour less than a month ago and passed away in Ashford Hospital on Tuesday night, 27 November 2018.
Before he joined the then Department of Media in 2002 Goran had a distinguished academic career in the Republic of Macedonia. After graduating from the Department of English Language and Literature at the Faculty of Philology in Skopje, he studied Dramaturgy at the Academy for Dramatic Arts in Belgrade, writing a Masters thesis on “Stage Instructions as the Basis of the Dramaturgy of Samuel Beckett”. He went on to become one of the leading theatre professionals in his country, in 1986 he establishing the Department of Playwriting in the Faculty of Dramatic Arts at the University of Skopje, where he became Vice-Dean in the early 1990s and Professor of Scriptwriting in 1995. In 1990 he was a Outstanding Artist Fulbright Scholar at Brown University, USA and in the late 1990s he was visiting Professor at the Dramatic Institute in Stockholm, where his play Euralien was performed. His scriptwriting tool, A Little Book of Traps (2002) has been translated and published in five languages, including Chinese.
Goran wrote over 30 plays for theatre, radio and television and a dozen television serials and film scripts, including Sarajevo (1993, Riverside Studios, Hammersmith) and Everyman (2004, Hammersmith and touring). The Tricylce Theatre Company in London commissioned Ex – Yu (1996), which was directed by Nicholas Kent. For the Belarus Free Theatre he wrote a short play that became part of their Eurepica. Challenge compilation at the Almeida Theatre in 2011. The Financial Times wrote “he offers a monologue for a poet who metamorphoses from loyal communist to nationalist to exotic exile to enthusiastic passenger on the gravy train of internationalism, rewriting the same poem and spouting the same pieties in each incarnation.”
He was the School of Media Art and Design’s (and probably the university’s) most celebrated European public intellectual, holding awards from several European universities and membership of a pan-European think tank the European Council for Foreign Relations.
Here at Canterbury, Goran passed on his expertise and understanding of scriptwriting to many cohorts of FRTV students. He was admired and appreciated for his wisdom, gentleness, empathy, warmth and humour. In a 2013 article in Human Affairs, Mishel Pavlovski wrote that Goran celebrates a Europe that is “a global home to all of its citizens, here and now”. He will be greatly missed.
We send our deepest commiserations to his wife Pat, children Igor and Jana and his extended family.
“I spend my days trying to work out the continuity between my two narratives and the artistic role of someone on the borderline. I patiently try to explain to my friends and relatives in Skopje that I haven’t forsaken them forever and that I’m not living in the lap of luxury in the promised land of the West. I patiently try to explain to people in Britain that I am not a refugee bleeding-heart playwright with a post-traumatic stress disorder. I have little success in convincing either side. They all seem to have strong ideas about who I must be. They have their cliches and stereotypes.
“So now I live in Canterbury, an olde worlde, touristy little town with a cathedral. On the main street there is a comics shop selling Americana novelties. In the shop window there is a life-size colour cut-out of a character from the popular television science fiction series Babylon 5. It is a picture of a creature with a big halo of flesh around her head. I know the actress behind this character. She is a friend of mine. Her name is Mira Furlan. She used to be one of the best actresses of ex-Yugoslav theatre, film and TV. She was the protagonist of our drama and the hero of our story. Now she is an alien. She has become one with the stereotype about Eastern Europeans.”
(Goran Stefanovski, “Tales from the Wild East” (2009))