© 2017 by CITD.

All images by Nejc Saje

The Republic of Slovenia

 

All the authors of the production remain anonymous. In this context, the individual simply is not important. What is important is the stat(ur)e. 

Co-production: Mladinsko Theatre and Maska Institute

 

What I Saw

 

For this performance, where are taken by bus to the Aviation Centre, which is just outside of Maribor. The location is beautiful: a small bar and a huge hangar is spread over an immense field that is near a neat forest. Everything is covered in fog and it is freezing cold for an early October evening. The performance that we are about to see takes place in the hangar, in which a small stage and audience is set up. It is unclear (until the very last segment of the piece) why exactly we have to be in this exact place.

 

The first segment features an elderly man, who stands next to a piece of crayon paper and paints. His work is projected on a screen behind him. It’s a childlike painting of a room with some stairs. As it turns out later, the painter is a former employee of the Slovenian secret service, who is here to tell us a story. He stops working on the painting and starts talking. His monologue is assisted by an actress who stands on the opposite side of the scene and occasionally asks questions while the men speaks. His story is translated to us only roughly in the form of surtitles, as presumably what he is saying is unscripted. He talks about one instance when he had the job of counting 17 million German marks in a room that looked exactly as the painting he has just made for us. He sometimes points at parts of the image to illustrate what he is talking about. He speaks simply, without trying to be funny or dramatic. His story is spectacular, although at this point I have no idea of what is means.

 

The second segment starts as if a new performance was starting altogether. We applaud the old man and his story. The lights go down, the scene changes. In the huge hangar we now see a long wooden table with matching chairs around it. A woman comes in and talks about how Slovenia, after gaining independence, was forced to ban the transportation of arms through her territory. The ban was put on following a discussion between the ministers involved in making the decision. The discussion has been since disclosed and, the woman tells us, will now be recreated in its entirety by the actors. The replay is at once comic and truthful, and has an interesting fictitious quality to it: it is not the raw, unmoved style of many documentary pieces but a more theatrical and entertaining take on verbatim theatre. While we watch the meeting between the prime minister, president, minister of internal affairs and that of the foreign affairs, the minister of national defence, etc., a clock projected on the top of the set shows us the exact time of the meeting. At times, the woman makes comments on the actions: she clarifies names and facts we might not be aware of, she warns us if the transcript of the meeting is at places unclear. After much discussion about what would benefit Slovenia regarding these matters, the politicians decide that their official stance would be the following: Slovenia has stopped allowing traffic of arms through her territory since the country became part of the UN. Then they decide to actually put forward the ban, to avoid future conflicts in the matter.

 

The third segment follows after a longish intermission. When we return, the back of the hangar is open on two sides. The scene is empty. Suddenly, a car comes in, then another from the opposite side and they stop right in front of each other. Another truck arrives promptly. Men dressed in black attire typical to law enforcement units and equipped with guns and truncheons start attacking a man sitting in one of the cars. They break the windows and hit the man, they drag him out and put him in the truck. A police car arrives to the scene, officials ask about what is happening and will be reassured that everything is done with the consent of the police. Before leaving, the undercover agents leave some documents in the car. We will find out that what we had seen was the arrest of a man who decided to research the work of the secret police that was in charge of attending to the ban of arms traffic. We will then see more versions of this exact event: the way the plaintiff expressed it during the following trial, the way the prosecution said it happened and the way the head of the ministry of national defence described it at a press conference. While all the versions are made with a film-like realism – cars, broken windows, fake blood and a lot of shouting –, the last version is more of an absurd retelling of the story, with the minister in the middle instructing his law enforcement unit to replay over and over again several parts of the event. They form a straight line as they run towards each other, towards the back of the hangar, hitting themselves against the walls, they collapse and they rise. It looks both like a military exercise and complete mayhem.

 

The piece ends with a car on which everyone climbs up and sings an anthem-like song about their love to Slovenia. It is an aggressive and repulsive image, while it also conserves the overall playfulness that accompanies this last segment.

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Nuts and Bolts

Company Name: Mladinsko Theatre, Maska Ljubljana

Premiere: 20.4. 2016, Mladinsko Theatre and Glass Hall of GR - Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre


Running time: Approximately 1 hour 40 minutes. One interval. Takes place in site-specific consitions

All the authors of the production remain anonymous. In this context, the individual simply is not important. What is important is the stat(ur)e. 

Cast Size: 16 (14 male/2 female)

Touring Size: 32 total (16 actors, 12 technicians, 4 escorts)

Stage size: Not possible to take place on a classical stage

Load in time: 8 hours

Strike time: 6 hours

Cartage information: Most of the set and equipment fit into one van, however a car transport truck is also needed (there are 4 functional but not registered motor vehicles to be transported).

Translation options: Subtitles

Touring history: Maribor Theatre Festival, Maribor, Slovenia, 15 October 2016. Selected for the Week of Slovenian Drama, Kranj, Slovenia, realisation is pending.

Future performance dates: Malta Festival Poznan, Poznan, Poland, 17 & 18 June 2017

Available for touring from: 3/21/2017

Representation: Dušan Pernat, Tour Manager, dusan.pernat@mladinsko-gl.si, +386 (0)41 730 435; Mladinsko Theatre, Vilharjeva 11, SI-1000 Ljubljana

Synopsis: Three situations back from the time following the independence, when we were living the collective success story while entirely different things were going on somewhere in the background. Three stories on a hidden bit of recent history that we can hardly be proud of: the testimony of an executor of orders, the transcript of a debate among those who were issuing orders and five versions of an event that at the time was a scandal and later on turned into a myth. An event that changed the perfectly ordinary name of a perfectly ordinary village into a synonym for something that everybody knew both everything and nothing about, something that became material for books and the subject of gossip on street corners. Apparently none of it conforms to reality, which in reality is pretty comfortable for quite a few.


Inter faeces et urinam nascimur. Coming to life is a wonderful and dirty business and the creation of a state is immersed in fog; somewhere between heroism and corruption, between the UN palace and the Mafia underground, immersed in a time when the leaders’ wisdom and vigour were put to the test. It is when one gets hold of power that one’s true nature becomes manifest; that is when one proves oneself either way. Some proved themselves in one way. Others in another.


It is our citizens’ duty to take a look at the post-independence period; at a time when dreams were no longer sufficient or allowed.

Reviews: "The Republic of Slovenia doesn’t confine itself to speak only of political armament scandals nor does it say everything, but it also doesn’t stay quiet. It persists in the stance that each interpretation is a matter of perspective and that is probably why it may seem somewhat indefinite, indecisive and incomplete. Nevertheless I consider this to be one of its virtues. The Republic of Slovenia is neither a provocation nor an explicitly delivered critique but a platform for reflection left to the alert and active spectator. For an individual is as important as his attitude, which is the fundament of state, however that state may be.”

Nika Arhar, Delo, 5 May 2016

Artistic Profiles

The Theatres

 

The Mladinsko story started after World War II, in the pioneering 1950s, when the theatre had to struggle over three years to finally move into its current premises in 1959 and commence its regular, continuous work; in the first decade of the 21st century, it reached one of its peaks with a prestigious recognition and award of the European Commission, that is, the flattering title of the European Ambassador of Culture in 2008. The Mladinsko Theatre has been an internationally renowned theatrical organism at least since the 1980s, when it became a breeding ground for the development of new performance aesthetics and politics, for new forms of postmodern and late-socialist politicised theatre. Simultaneously, the mid-1980s witnessed the emergence of poetics that were not bound by the current political affairs. Both outlines have continued throughout the 1990s until the present day, representing the years of subversive tactics and aesthetic innovations. “By moving the experiment from the level of artistic expression into the field of civic action, Mladinsko is one of those exceptional theatre organisms that with their objectives often cause important effects in non-artistic discourse as well.” Tibor Mihelič Syed, managing director “In our new projects we don’t really deal with theatre. We’re dealing with the symptomisation of the society, and we show the recorded symptoms using the appropriate performative procedures. For this reason, public space, to us, becomes an equal performance space.” -Goran Injac, artistic director

 

TRAILER: http://en.mladinsko.com/performances/reprises-201617/the-republic-of-slovenia/video/

Theatre Contact

Mladinsko Theatre Vilharjeva 11 SI-1000 Ljubljana +386 (0)1 3004 900 www.mladinsko.com info@mladinsko-gl.si

 

Maska Metelkova 6/II, 1000 Ljubljana +386 (0)1 431 31 22, +386 (0)1 431 53 48 www.maska.si info@maska.si