The Slovenian Showcase at the 51st Maribor Theatre Festival is a curated programme that presents every year the best of contemporary Slovenian theatre. It is a programme that showcases mostly the established creators of the scene, such as Jernej Lorenci, Eduard Miler or Mateja Koležnik, with the younger generation generally being represented in the so-called accompanying section.
As our interests for DISPATCHES were the younger creators, my focus was mostly on this section. I was interested to find out what the established artists of the theatre of tomorrow look like today: what theatrical language(s) do they speak and how do they redefine the scene that they are part of. It was especially exciting to see the newer creators, while also being able to watch their older counterparts. The differences were striking and even from this brief visit I could tell that there is a very strong new language in the making.
Overall, I saw the newer generation slowly but consistently moving away from the aesthetics of director’s theatre that has been conquering most of European theatre since the middle of the 20th century. Their response consists of a more gentle and less hierarchical approach to creation: they might name themselves directors, choreographers and actors, but the sense of collective work and of a more equal division of tasks within the creative process is also obvious. The works that I cover here propose very different ways of making theatre and will not make for a comprehensive picture of contemporary Slovenian theatre, and at the same time I will not be able to grasp the complexity of this scene, but I hope that I can provide an interesting look on the week I have spent in Maribor watching theatre.
From the Maribor Theatre Festival Website
I am a freelance theatre critic, dramaturg, writer and translator based in Budapest, Hungary and Cluj-Napoca, Romania. I am the editor of the theatre magazine Játéktér, where I am in charge of a section that focuses on international theatre and the borders of performance. I am also a regular contributor for Színház magazine and other theatre and cultural outlets from both Hungary and Romania.
As a critic, I regularly visit festivals and theatre related events in the region: as I am bilingual (Hungarian, born in Romania) and a part of two theatre scenes to start with, my focus always transcends the so-called national scenes. I work as a dramaturg with Ferenc Sinkó, a Cluj based choreographer and director who makes devised theatre productions and with whom we are now developing our second collaboration after Parental Ctrl (produced by Groundfloor Group/Kinga Kelemen at the Paintbrush Factory in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, 2015). As a writer I am preparing my first collection of short stories after a slow start in the literary scene. I work as a translator both for theatre organizations, translating performance texts and other materials and also non-theatre related essays and academic studies.
As an academic, I received my bachelor’s degree in theatre studies in 2012, in my hometown, Cluj-Napoca, Romania, at the Theatre and Television Department of Babeș–Bolyai University. I earned my master’s degree in theatre studies at the Károli Gáspár University in Budapest in the summer of 2014. I am currently preparing to apply for PhD studies, hoping to do research in my region about possibilities of subversive performances that both transcend their own context and are deeply rooted in a specific culture. I am interested in the ways in which performance can mean a way to connect both with the local community and the international theatre discourse. My focus will be on performances related to gender: the feminist and queer work of the region.
A Note From Philip
We return to Maribor a second time—our first DISPATCHES chronicled the 2015 edition, with then Baltimore-based Kellie Mecleary reporting. (Kellie is now happily ensconced with Blanka Zizka’s Wilma Theatre as the new Producing Artistic Associate).
Our latest edition celebrates Artistic Director Alja Predan's final season. After eight years, Alja moves on to be the dramaturg at the City Theatre in Celje, Slovenia. We wish her well.
This edition is reported by Romanian critic Panna Adorjáni.
Panna was in Baltimore for a month immediately following the Maribor Festival, working with Iron Crow Theatre as dramaturg on Anne Turiano’s production of Madeleine George’s The Zero Hour. A very strong outing for this revisioned Baltimore queer company.
We were able to have Panna join us for a long weekend, working with the new Milwaukee Fringe Festival (old friends from Theatre X—playwright John Schneider, the artistic director, and Willem Dafoe lending his support), a visit to Blanka Zizka’s workshop for her production, Adapt!, and some DC performances at Arena Stage, Woolly Mammoth, and Forum Theatre.
During that time, I got a preview of her take on this unique but long overlooked festival.
A lot of late-spring activity from the region here in the US:
Hungarian director Martin Boross is in Baltimore in May, beginning a month-long residency at Single Carrot Theatre, and mounting a Baltimore version of his Promenade bus-tour performance. He was with the company last fall for a workshop that promises a very successful collaboration. Promenade: Baltimore runs the month of June.
And later in the spring, Csaba Horváth will return to the Wilma Theatre in Philadelphia for a short pre-rehearsal period with the Wilma Hot House gang on a Blood Wedding to open the 17/18 Wilma Theatre season in Nahuel Telleria’s translation in late October.
Yuri Urnov returns to Russia in mid-May, but just opened his final 16/17 production: Maxim Kurochkin’s The Schooling of Bento Bonchev. Yuri and his wife, Tanya, will be in Russia for the 17/18 season, fulfilling a Fulbright requirement before returning to the US in the fall of 2018. He’s a company member of Woolly Mammoth and will direct there again in 18/19.
And I head back to Eastern Europe in May for a fortnight: Budapest first, seeing multiple new productions by Csaba Horváth, Béla Pinter, Robi Alföldi, Kornél Mundruczó, and László Marton. I’ll also have Budapest time with old friends and colleagues - Andrea Tompa, Tamás Jászay, Laszlo Upor, Máté Gaspar, András Török, Gyur Szabó, Aniko Racz, Zenkö Bogdán, Kinga Keszthely, Noémi Herzog, Andras Nágy, Tibor Orlai - the list is growing. Then to Timisoara, Romania for the TESZT Festival. Hungarian director Árpád Schilling will open the festival with the premier of Exit. A week of multi-performance days follows, including director Viktor Bodo’s much appreciated Madman’s Diary.
Michael Dove, artistic director of the Forum Theatre, fresh from opening Robert Schenkkan’s Building the Wall in DC (Arena first, then his theatre in Silver Spring, Maryland) will join me and report on the Festival for DISPATCHES.
founder & director
Image by Matej Kristovič.
Opening Ceremony of the festival. Image by Boštjan Lah.
Alja Predan, Artistic Director
Image by Zoltan Szarka
About This Issue
MARIBOR THEATRE FESTIVAL
REPORTER: PANNA ADORJÁNI
The Trust for Mutual Understanding
The Trust for Mutual Understanding, a long-time supporter of CITD, is a unique and important player in Russia and Eastern Europe. Set up as a trust by a single anonymous donor in 1984, the focus was “to support direct person-to-person contact between American and Soviet professionals working in the field of art and environment.” A second gift was made in 1991, continuing the dual focus of art and environment, and opening up to Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe; the Baltic States; Central Asia; Mongolia; and Russia. They are now celebrating their 30th year continuing this essential work.
CITD and Panna would also like to thank the following individuals for their indispensable support: Alja Predan, Amelia Kraigher, Mojca Planšak, Ksenija Repina Kramberger, and everyone who worked to produce the 51st Maribor Theatre Festival; Zenkö Bogdán; Julia Katz and Carol Baish at CITD's home base; and the Slovenian theater administrators and artists for providing information, images, and inspiration.
THE CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL THEATRE DEVELOPMENT
Philip Arnoult, founder & director
Volume I, Issue 3