Lence Kumanovce Returns Home

After a journey of a whole 85 years, Lence Kumanovce has symbolically returned home. The play has come back among its people in Kumanovo for a new step, this time with the printed text from its creator Basil Iljoski, and in Kumanovo’s beautiful dialect, Kumanovski. This play was the first printed text written in Kumanovo’s dialect, sourced in 1928.

In the beginning, Lence Kumanovce was performed on the stage on just a few occasions at the beginning of 1928 and in the recently constructed Old Theater in Skopje, “King Alexander,” for its first time. Through the voices of Pero Jovanovic (Adzi Trajko) and Yolanda Dzagic (Lence) came the sound one of one of the dialects of the Macedonian language- Kumanovo’s speech, and in 1936/37, after the return of its author, Vasil Iljoski, to Macedonie, from his exile. Aside from those few plays which were performed after the war in Kumanovo, among which was the epic “Lence Kumanovce” in 1971, performed for the tenth anniversary of the Public Theater in Kumanovo, all other performances were disguised as “Runaway,” and also performed in literal Macedonian language.

The problem wasn’t that Lence Kumanovce was called “Runaway,” but maybe a little negligence of the young state, because the first writings of Vasil Iljoski that were given to the Administration of Skopje’s Public Theater, written in Kumanovo’s dialect, were actually not preserved, printed, published in any magazine, or as a standalone book. From here it was our big surprise and disappointment when we wanted to see the original writings of this play from Vasil Iljoski, at first called “Runaway” and after the first performance renamed into “Lence Kumanovce” – a play with dancing and singing in five parts, as it was noted on the billboard from 1936. We could not get our hands on anything like it. We were everywhere and we researched everything that was logically possible to find that transcript or copy of the first version of this play: in the theater in Kumanovo, in the archive in Kumanovo, in the Macedonian Public Theater in Skopje, in the Macedonian Academy of Science and Art, the University Library “Kliment Ohridski,” in most of the libraries in Belgrade, also in the Ministry of Culture of the Yugoslavian Kingdom from 1972, the Museum of Theatrical Art in Belgrade, even in the state archive in Sophia. From all things done, we came to the conclusion that this first version of the play from 1928, in Kumanovo’s dialect, wasn’t actually registered or preserved anywhere. At least we could not get to it. We came to the conclusion that after all, there is a preserved writing of the play from 1936, and it was in the possession of some person from Skopje, whose identity after all our efforts could not be found.

In either case we thought that after all, the text of the play should be preserved in Kumanovo’s language. That should be done for future generations of Kumanovo’s people and the Macedonian people, because of the undisputed fact about the first breakthrough of a dramatic piece from a Macedonian author, and in the Macedonian language, also a man from Kumanovo, and also written and performed in Kumanovo’s dialect.

Unfortunately, we could not get even the text of the play “Lence Kumanovce” that was performed for the tenth anniversary of Kumanovo’s Theater (after its rebirth in 1961), performed on that stage, and recorded by the Macedonian Radio Televison.

By many this cult play of the classic “Lence Kumanovce” was acted by a brilliant acting team who had already performed for a long time in the theater in Kumanovo.

To achieve our goal, the publishing and immortalization of Vasil Ilkoski’s “Lence Kumanovce” in Kumanovo’s language, we decided to redo (adapt), translate the old and first Macedonian text from Runaway, which was published in Macedonian literal language, and with all logic should be closest to the original Kumanovo version of “Lence Kumanovce.”

That was actually the first Macedonian publication of “Runaway,” published by the State House of PRM from Skopje in 1950, in Macedonian language in which were preserved most of the archaic expressions of the first publication from before the war. Actually, we simply reverted “Runaway” to “Lence Kumanovce.”

Our Transcription is similar to the one from 1971, in which actors from Kumanovo performed on the tenth anniversery of the Theater in Kumanovo, and the director in the theater, Dragoljub Dimovski-Setko put “Lence Kumanovce” on the stage along with the actor Gjoko Nikolovski, who was for sure the best Adzi Trajko.

– Dimitar Masevski