Theatre in Slovenia

The story of the independent State of Slovenia has been lasting only for two decades now, but the identity of the Slovene people as a Nation with its own language and culture lasts, of course, much longer. Politically speaking, we were considered as a minority until the end of the World War I, when our first institutions, based on the Slovene intellectual and cultural manpower, were established. Some 90 years ago, those two actually were the National Theatres in Ljubljana and Maribor. And although Ljubljana is a state capital, rich in culture, theatre life and recently even considered one of the pearls of the Middle European capital cities, the Slovenia’s second City of Maribor is closely following with its important cultural projects, such as for example the European Culture Capital 2012.  The Institutionalized Theatre is concentrated within a number of main National Institutions, subsidized by the state, such as Slovene National Theatres in Ljubljana (Drama, Opera and Ballet), Maribor (Drama, Opera and Ballet) and Nova Gorica (Drama) as well as in numerous professional theatres supported both by the state and the local communities. 

Theatre Festivals are usually offering highlights, therefore the best time to catch up with the first-rate performances is during festivals. The Institutionalized Theatre is presented on two major events. The first and the most important one is by all means The Maribor Theatre Festival in Maribor, which takes place in October and therefore symbolically opens the theatre season. Its 45th edition in October 2010 undoubtedly presented its milestone in many ways. With quite a number of visionary plans for its future, it amalgamated this time a competition program, numerous performances within the off-stage production and a showcase for invited guests and programmers as well as other events. The second important festival with a long lasting tradition is The Week of the Slovenian Drama in Kranj, presenting the best theatre productions of the Slovene playwriting in the scope of competition program, accompanied by an interesting international program and other events. Amongst others the Grum Award for the Best Play is also presented for the best script on this festival every year. 

And the fact is that it is not only the Slovene theatre production that is increasing every year, but that its suggestive power of declaration, freshness in the interpretative emphasis and in styles of presentation are also very highly appreciated by all professional theatre artists and Slovene theatre-goers. Interesting and challenging theatre can be seen almost everywhere. For two decades the Slovene theatre and performing arts could also be seen all over the World. Many of the theatre-lovers around the World have heard about Pandur, Živadinov, Štromajer, Hrvatin, Pograjc, Buljan, Taufer, Waltl, Berger, Bric, Pipan, Clug, Kovač, Bogdanovski, etc. and theatres, such as: Mladinsko Theatre Ljubljana, Mini Teater Ljubljana, SNT Drama Ljubljana and SNT Maribor, Glej Theatre, … But it is not only our theatres that are presenting our stagecraft, while performing abroad, as Slovenia has recently become one of the most attractive and exciting meeting points for European and World performing artists during its vivid international festival events. 

And here is yet another short survey of some other most visited and well known festivals one can participate in Slovenia all year round.  They are all more or less international as far as their program is concerned and very successful in co-production and exchange. So the festivals like Ex Ponto, Exodos, Young Lions, City of Women, The Over Mura Moving Cake Festival, the Ana Desetnica Street Festival, the Mini Summer Festival for Children, the Golden Stick International Biannual Festival for Children and many others, attract performing artist from far and near to participate in their artistic growth and quality. 

Such volume of production also demanded new venues and therefore a lot has been done for the improvement of the theatre infrastructure. The Independent Theatre Companies found their new homes and not only in Ljubljana. The Theatre for Young People and the Ljubljana Puppet Theatre became a centre, offering a few new theatre venues under a common roof, thus presenting a solution to become more and more important in future as well. The Mini Teater opened the doors of one of the most expected venue in Ljubljana in October last year and thus a new theatre with stages and residential place for guest artist is becoming a centre of the independent theatre life in capital. In Novo mesto, the Anton Podbevšek Teater is becoming a representative venue for the exciting new theatre forms, whereas in Maribor the new Puppet Theatre welcomed young visitors this autumn. 

As the Slovene National Theatre Opera and Ballet Ljubljana has been under reconstruction for some years now, the Opera and Ballet lovers are very eager to be welcomed by the architectural pearl, the so called “Sleeping Beauty”, in the Ljubljana City Centre, which is expected to open its doors very soon as well.  

Many foreign artists are coming to set their performances here and guest artists of all range are frequently visiting our stages. And of course, it is always exciting for our audiences to be able to compare and enjoy such mixture of artistic expressions amalgamating with their city’s fresh metropolitan breeze. It is especially in Ljubljana and Maribor Ballet and Opera Companies that artists from all over the world are regularly performing as guests, however  many of them are deciding to stay in the mentioned companies permanently. One of them is Irek Mukhamedov, the new Artistic Ballet Director of the Ljubljana Ballet. Together with his wife Maša, Mr. Mukhamedov is bringing something completely new to this company, therefore numerous ballet lovers in Slovenia are looking forward to see the productions he decided to stage in Ljubljana. On the other hand there are but a few Slovene artists, who decided to stay abroad, probably preferring to stay back home, thanks to the great support of the performing arts, offered by the Slovene Ministry of Culture and numerous Municipal Authorities. We all hope that we will be able to maintain this favorable status, in spite of the present economic situation. Recent successful guest performances abroad of the Mladinsko Theatre with Eda - The Story of Rusjan Brothers, Amado Mio and Crime and Punishment (Poland, Teatro Iberoamericano Bogota, Expo 2010, Cairo), the SNT Drama Ljubljana with Oresteia (ITI Festival of Ancient Drama on Cyprus), the Mini Teater Ljubljana with Macbeth After Shakespeare (Festival de Teatro de La Habana, Theatre Olympics Seoul) and many others, as well as the International Theatre Awards – the SNT Maribor received The Japan Centre ITI and the ITI UNESCO Uchimura Prize for the performance The Wind in the Pines – are obviously showing just a few of the Slovenia’s present theatrical highlights. 


Tatjana Ažman

FOTO: Oresteia (Slovene National Theatre Drama Ljubljana)– foto by Tone Stojko

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