This Academy was primarily founded as a school for acting studies while other departments and groups were introduced subsequently. This confirms that the Acting Department represents the oldest discipline studied at the Academy, so the history of this school may also be observed through the development of this department. The Acting Department remained unique and it provides education to actors for all the stated areas. This is only logical considering that it is known that acting basically represents the essence, not only of the theatrical, but also other media of expression. The fact that our theater, film, television, and radio may thank our Academy (which educated a large number of diverse and competent actors) for their current undoubtful rise simply cannot be disputed.
Mata Milošević (1969)
Acting expression is now more complex than in it was in the past; old methods are discarded, while the new ones emerge; modern theater requires a modern actor. Schools need to unburden of the academic and the barren, reject patterns, and protect the embryos of the new that new generations bring with them.
How should modern acting classes be shaped? International practice does not provide an accurate and clear answer. There are different forms, but the most suitable one has not been established. The methods are different; however, today they depend more on the tradition than research.
The program is based on the idea that dance is the foundation of acting, that elements such as action, conflict, character, style, and genre must not be interpreted from the point of view of a single esthetic doctrine, and that the actor should not be prepared at school for only one specific type of theater (for example, just the classic theater with realistic acting). Work at school should be technical preparation of students for free creativity in the theater of choice, or the one founded by themselves.
Predrag Bajčetić (1969)
The first task of an acting educator is to create conditions that enable the development of talent, hunger for communication, and willingness to act. This is not possible if there is fear and if there is no trust between an educator and a student of acting.
Education in acting is friendly help. Student’s vibrations, pain from the tension of existence on the stage and attempt to move and overcome the obstacle should be understood and felt.
An acting student cannot be taught to act, but he or she can only develop what is already inside. Thus, an acting educator helps talented young actors to grow and surprise the audience.
From the entrance exam to the graduation exam, students seek and eventually find their stage persona. Their individuality is a primary source of future originality on the stage, which is what will distinguish them from others, making their style recognizable. Therefore, I strived to encourage the development of individuality or specificity of an individual acting expression in the selection of students in my class, through all the exercises, discussions, midterm exams, selection of exam tasks. I tried to make my students be different, but speak the same language.
This language has some core words: Action, Character, Genre, and Style. This is a four-year curriculum of acting. Students who understood, applied, and took permanent ownership over these four pillars of the acting profession may stand on the stage or in front of a camera and stick around for a long time. Maybe until the end of their lives.
The most successful actor is the one who lasts the longest!
Vladimir Jevtović, Ph.D. (2007)
The Theater Academy was founded on 11 December 1948 by a Decree signed by the Federal Minister of Education and Culture Rodoljub Čolaković and Josip Broz Tito, as a Yugoslav school, unlike the existing Ljubljana Academy and the planned Zagreb Academy. In June 1949, three acting classes, led by Mata Milošević, Jozo Laurenčić and Bojan Stupica as teachers, passed their first exams. In May 1951, the first public performances of students attending the third year of acting in Mata Milošević’s class were played on the stage of the Belgrade Drama Theater while in May 1952, the same class graduated with the performance of the play ‘The Last’ by Maksim Gorki and the selection of classic dialogues.
Besides the abovementioned ones, the acting teachers in this initial period were also Joža Rutić, Viktor Starčić, Tomislav Tanhofer, Josip Kulundžić, Nada Riznić, and Raša Plaović. Teachers of vocational artistic courses were Obrad Nedović, Karlo Bulić, Konstantin Eger, Ljerka Pejčić, Tamara Polonska, Branivoj Đorđević, Ph.D., and their assistants Nada Grbić and Divna Đoković. Miroslav Belović, Soja Jovanović, Zoran Ristanović, Ljubomir Bogdanović, Vlado Jablan, Bogdan Jerković, Branko Pleša, Stevo Žigon, and Dara Vukotić Plaović were the first teaching assistants in the acting classes. The Acting Department had a successful beginning, confirmed by Mata Milošević’s words: “A very good choice of students was enabled by a large number of applicants for the first entrance exam at the Acting Department of the Academy. At first, the students were divided into three classes; however, very soon, due to the departure of one of the teachers, two classes were formed with about twenty students each, which was a high number for practical lessons in acting. Thanks to devotion of teachers and teaching assistants, and the enthusiasm of the first students, the work in classes was normal and soon yielded satisfactory results.’
Soon, a new generation of teaching assistants appeared and grew to become excellent acting professors in the future; for years, they were the main educational and creative strength of the Acting Department: Minja Dedić, Ognjenka Milićević, Milenko Maričić, and Predrag Bajčetić. Ljiljana Krstić and Jovan Putnik taught acting for a short period of time. At the beginning of ‘60s, Irenej Ćenan, Dušan Mihajlović, Vlastimir Radovanović, Nikola Veselinović, Miodrag Radovanović, Olga Savić, Aleksandar Đorđević, Ljubomir Draškić, and Arsenije Jovanović were engaged as teaching assistants. Also, from 1967 to 1971, an acting class for students of Albanian nationality existed, and it was led by Slavoljub Stefanović Ravasi with associates Istref Begoli and Muharem Ćena. Since the end of the ‘60s and up to today, an array of exceptional teachers of vocational courses appeared, some of whom are: Dragoslav Janković-Maks, Ljiljana Grujić Erenrajh, M.Sc., Ljiljana Mrkić Popović, Ph.D., Jovanka Bjegojević, Milovan Gađanski, Ann Dennis Janković, mr Radovan Knežević, Sofija Barac, Ferid Karajica, Lejla Mandžuka, mr Marina Marković, Dragan Popov, Ph.D. In addition to already mentioned professor Arsenije Jovanović, a new generation of teachers appeared in the acting classes: Vladimir Jevtović, Ph.D., mr Gordana Marić, Branislav Mićunović, Biljana Mašić, Anita Mančić, and Dragan Petrović. together with the youngest generation of assistants: Varja Đukić, Pavle Lazić, Dušan Petrović, David Putnik, Žanko Tomić, Jug Radivojević, and Srđan Karanović. Biljana Slović, Branka Pujić, Slobodan Beštić, Vladan Vukašinović, Ph.D., Aleksandar Tasković, M.A., Teodora Stanković, Aleksandar Miletić, Dijana Marojević, and Marija Milenković were also engaged as teaching assistants in vocational and artistic courses. For a short period of time, acting was taught by assistant professor Miloš Lazin and associates Boro Stjepanović, Gorica Popović, Mirjana Karanović, and Radmila Vojvodić.
Generations of actors from all areas of former Yugoslavia studied acting at our school and were among the leading professionals in theaters in ex-Yugoslavia and now. Numerous festival awards given to our students or former students, and successful participations in many gatherings of theater schools, prove that the level of teaching at the Acting Department is very high, with high selection criteria which give acting full creative purpose. It could be said that there is almost no established and prominent artist who did not attend the Faculty of Dramatic Arts. Moreover, the Acting Department is significant for all the existing academies in the Southeastern Europe. The acting and vocational-artistic classes at academies in Novi Sad, Priština, Skopje, Cetinje, Sarajevo, and Banja Luka are taught by teachers who graduated in acting or theater directing at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts.
Out of awards given by the Acting Department, the one carrying the name of Mata Milošević, awarded to the best acting student, deserves special attention. In the period between 1974 and 1999, some of the awarded ones were: Lazar Ristovski, Marina Marković, Ljiljana Blagojević, Stela Ćetković, Sonja Savić, Varja Đukić, Biljana Mašić, Irena Mičijević, Dragan Mićanović, Ivan Jevtović, Dijana Marojević, Nataša Šolak, Bojana Stefanović. Also, the award carrying the name of Branivoje Đorđević, Ph.D., an exceptional expert in language and diction, should also be given attention. Since 1991, the first year when it was awarded, it was awarded to Nebojša Glogovac, Irena Mičijević, Danijela Mihajlović, Danijela Ugrenović, Dejan Lutkić, Jelena Stupljanin.