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An innovative Slovenian youth theatre
Of all Slovenian theatres, the Mladinsko Theatre it is the one that most frequently tours around the world. Since starting touring in 1975, the theatre has visited a host of cities and international theatre festivals.
It was established in 1955 as the first professional theatre for children and young people in Slovenia. In the 1980s, it re-focused on interdisciplinary integration of different theatrical approaches.
- Photo: Mladinsko Theatre Archives
Today it is renowned for its broad array of innovative poetic productions by various young directors and for its phenomenonal ensemble energy. This is the Peter Brook approach towards acting, which is not based on a hierarchy of stars, but on an acting laboratory integrating individual virtuoso parts into the strong whole of the acting ensemble. Their performances address universal paradoxes of civilisation and on the problematic issues of new times and spaces.
The theatre will continue to develop the code of new theatrical practice, new visual paradigms, new views on the classics, modernism and postmodernism. At the Mladinsko Theatre, the actor, director, choreographer, set designer, musician ... research and develop, risk and create in order to develop a new spectator through their gestures.
Over the decades of creating and staging performances many interesting stories happened in the theatre. Several juicy anecdotes circulate about certain performances and their beginnings. One of the interesting anecdotes is the one about the première of Leviatan from 1985 about which the ensemble found out from newspapers since no one took seriously the impulsive director Ljubiša Ristić who announced the première only a few days before on the basis of a sudden inspiration.
The performance that had the most repetitions (at least according to the memory and the archives since the data from the first decades of the theatre were unfortunately lost) is Pippi directed by Vito Taufer. But before Pippi, the most popular little girl was Alice in Wonderland. Currently, the most popular performances among the audiences are Pavla Above the Precipice, which was inspired by the life of the mountain climber Pavla Jesih, and Rok's Depth, a story of the immortal Slovenian ski legend, Rok Petrovič.
The location of performances was not always confined to the premises of the theatre located in the centre of Ljubljana. The large Concert Hall in Postojna Cave and the great reading room in the National and University Library also served as stages for their performances. Some of the more unusual sites used for the setting up of their theatrical performances also include the lawn in front of the Piran church, a railway wagon (named the rocket and used on tours), a field next to a farm in Switzerland, a shipyard in Izola, the riding ground at Secondary Agricultural School Grm Novo Mesto, Ljubljana Castle and the citadel in Budva, Montenegro.
In many performances, the actors have had to put on animal costumes, while on many occasions live animals were also incorporated in the plays. One of these was You Never See Me Where I See You, which was premièred at the riding ground in Novo Mesto, where the audience was able to see four horses, a tortoise and a camel (the latter two were borrowed from Ljubljana Zoo). Goats, chicken, doves, white crested Polish hen, canary, python, two Russian wolfhounds, a Labrador Retriever and a group of lively rats were also featured in certain performances.
Season as never seen before
- Photo: STA
This year’s season will be diversified with a special season ticket, Bay of Piran, in cooperation with the Croatian National Theatre Ivan pl. Zajc from Rijeka. Mladinsko is certain that where the politics cannot reconcile, the arts may intervene. The aim of the programme, which significantly enriches the cultural offer of both cities, Ljubljana and Rijeka, is to offer the theatre-goers an opportunity to broaden their cultural horizons. “We believe that integrating plays of two programme-related theatres into a joint seasonal programme is a step in the right direction,” they are convinced.
All performances will be subtitled. In addition to an entrance fee, the season ticket also includes transport from Ljubljana to Rijeka, a guided tour of the city and dinner. “The audience will have the opportunity to not only see the performance but to take a walk along the streets of both towns, visit galleries and museums, have a meal in any of the Ljubljana or Rijeka restaurants, and finally to determine whether seabass tastes the same on either side of the border, and that the Adriatic flora and fauna are politically and nationally neutral,” explains Goran Injac, Artistic Director of the Mladinsko.
“The cooperation involves two programme-related theatres from two countries, which are divided by the issue of the border in the Bay of Piran,” says Injac. “The Bay of Piran is a common point of conflict which touches upon politics and the needs and desires of the neighbouring countries. We decided on the name of the season ticket together with the responsible people of the Rijeka theatre because we are certain that the issue of political relations must be placed in a problematic context now when we are initiating such regional cooperation – a joint seasonal programme. We wish to introduce the creativity of the theatre in Rijeka to the audiences in Ljubljana and vice versa: present the theatre-goers in Rijeka the performances of the theatre in Ljubljana. Considering the fact that both theatres have a similar political and socially-critical programme, it is our duty to discuss sensitive topics in both countries.”
Text by Polona Prešeren