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“Brimming with challenge and the poetics of the senses, the oldest and the most prominent theatre festival in Slovenia has always been the scene of exciting arguments, new insights and unexpected reversals.

Since 1996, the year of its debut, its home institution has been the Slovenian National Theatre in Maribor. Its kaleidoscopic history has seen much turmoil and change. Starting as the Week of Slovenian Drama then transforming into a gathering of Slovenian theatres, it eventually established itself as the national theatre competition. It owes its name - notwithstanding the polemics surrounding it - to Ignacij Borštnik (1858-1919), an actor, a stage director and the founder of modern Slovenian theatre.

The festival has recently evolved into an international event: international symposia, and foreign guests, producers and performances are obvious signs that it is ready to confront the European and global theater scene. International promotion is one of the main tasks of the new managing team. The festival consists of several thematic programs (the competition and accompanying program plus the sections entitled Bridges, Generations, and Showcase). Awards are given for the best show, the best stage directing and acting, as well as for musical and other artistic achievements chosen by a jury of theatre professionals. The most prestigious prize is the Borštnik Ring, awarded by a special jury to a deserving actor for his/her life’s work.” 

From the Maribor Theatre Festival Website

Our Reporter

Kellie Mecleary

Kellie is a producer, director, and dramaturg residing in Baltimore, Maryland.  She holds a Master’s Degree in Performance Studies from New York University and a BA in English and Theater from Goucher College. Mecleary has worked as a dramaturg, director, critic, producer, administrator, and stage manager with various organizations including Brave New World Repertory Company, Pipeline Theater Company, WOW Café Theater, Manhattan Theater Source, and Vital Theater. Her writing has been published through Cerise Press and Locally, she worked artistically and administratively with Deep Vision Dance Company, Center Stage, Single Carrot Theatre and with the BROS (Baltimore Rock Opera Society). She currently serves as Producing Director at Single Carrot Theatre.

This spring, Kellie will embark on two exciting projects. At Single Carrot Theatre, she will be directing a world premiere ofMidlife by former SCT Company Member and Columbia MFA Candidate for Playwrighting Ben Hoover. Just before rehearsals begin, she will travel to Russia for the 2016 Golden Mask, which she will write about for DISPATCHES' second iteration. 

"It was a great gift to witness the creativity, talent, and commitment of Slovenian artists at the Maribor Theatre festival this fall. Regardless of whether or not a production was to my taste, I always admired the artists' commitment to asking difficult questions about life and society; wrestling with history; and always mining the tools of the theatrical form to do so. Several lessons I learned (and no doubt many more I will learn in Russia) will deeply inform my artistic work this spring, and beyond.  I am so excited that other young American theater makers will have the opportunity to travel to these theatrically rich parts of the world, witness phenomenal theater, and be asked to think critically about them. Experiences like these are ground-shifting, and necessary. I am deeply grateful to Philip and the Center for International Theatre Development for this opportunity."

A Note From Philip


The Center for International Theatre Development is launching DISPATCHES, a series of reports on national festivals and showcases in Central and Eastern Europe. Its focus is on young artists and companies, and written specifically for a CITD group of some 260+ US theatre professionals (artistic directors, presenters, producers, artists, journalists, and educators) and 40+ international partners.

Over the course of the last five years, the headlines coming out of Eastern & Central Europe about political changes and cultural wars are both alarming and depressing, with doors now slamming almost weekly.  As we see the high-profile targets losing spaces, funding and support, we have a growing concern about those younger artists and organizations under or not on any US or international radars.

Paradoxically, as established international festivals are now presenting more national work (and national festivals/showcases are springing up), we now have more opportunities to see and meet those younger artists and their work. DISPATCHES will focus on what is happening underneath the international radar: the art created by those primarily young artists in this new cultural/political reality. 

We will be working with a US group of primarily young theatre professionals (critics, journalists, dramturgs, etc) to continue this series.  Baltimore-based Kellie Mecleary (Goucher College BA and NYU MA and currently Producing Director of Single Carrot Theatre) has been the reporter on this issue, and will be working closely with me as a Senior Editor and reporter on additional issues.

Future DISPATCHES will be covering the Golden Mask Festival in Moscow where young directors from the provinces will be showcasing work in April.  May will have Susan Stroupe at the TESZT 2016 - (Euroregional Theatre Festival) in Timișoara, Romania.  Look for additional events covered in Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria.

This first issue of DISPATCHES is being sent to 262 US professional friends in the US--all of you with some CITD history and connection:

88 artistic directors
26 presenters
7 producers
17 journalists and critics
21 directors
17 playwrights
24 performers
8 dramaturgs
22 educators
32 others

We encourage you to pass DISPATCHES along.

I believe there are difficult and dangerous times ahead, filled with many risks and few opportunities.  But I also believe by working with trusted and committed partners in the region, we can make a difference.


Philip Arnoult
founder & director

Image by Matej Kristovič.

The jury at the end of festival party. Image by Boštjan Lah.

Alja Predan announcing the Festial awards. Image by Boštjan Lah.

Image by Zoltan Szarka

About This Issue




Our Thanks

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. 



Additional Thanks

CITD and Kellie Mecleary 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 50th Maribor Theatre Festival; CITD Project Manager Shannon Finnell; CITD Fellow Zenkö Bogdán; Zoltán Gálovitz; Sylvia Huszár; Tom Krall; editors Ben Hoover, Anna DeBlasio, Evan Moritz, and Jay Michael Gilman; and the Slovenian theater administrators and artists for providing information, images, and inspiration. 

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