International Theatre Festival of the SND Eurokontext.sk 2014
The inauguration edition of the SND International Theatre Festival Eurokontext.sk was held from 5 to 24 June 2014. It was the culmination of the 94th theatre season at the Slovak National Theatre. Since all three SND ensembles took part in the Festival, it became a showcase of musical, movement and drama theatre. Together with the convenors, the Festival brought 17 ensembles from 10 countries. Slovak theatres, along with 13 international companies gave as many as 37 performances that drew together 12,405 viewers.
The pilot edition set a tradition in motion, rendering an opportunity for international confrontation of theatres from the Visegrad countries and selected partners – members of the European Theatre Convention – joined together by the power of the theme and word, and by the quest for inspiring contemporary musical and dramatic language, as well as the power of progressive mainstream. Eurokontext.sk aims to join the ranks of major international theatre festivals and to become the prime theatre festival in Slovakia.
The Festival was held under the auspices of the Slovak Minister of Culture Festival Marek Maďarič, with kind support from the International Visegrad Fund and the European Theatre Convention (ETC), membership in which the SND enjoys.
Eurokontext.sk 2014: Drama
The Drama chapter of the Festival brought in 8 international theatres. Within its framework we also held two international discussions on issues faced by national theatres in the 21st century. The events were together with the ETC and the people from Visegrad countries. The Festival further addressed the theme through an exhibition about the V4 theatres.
A central thematic aspect was the correlation between individual theatres, as well as the specifics of directorial poetics and acting. Virtually every theatre opted for their local author, either a classic or contemporary, alternatively for world’s classics interpreted in a manner that enabled the audiences to learn about the key aspects of mentality and thinking about theatre in a given country.
- The National Theatre Brno presented the classical Othello in an unorthodox staging by the Slovak director Rastislav Ballek and member of the SND Drama ensemble Robert Roth in the main role.
- The Zagreb Youth Theatre brought their coproduction Yellow Line, contemporary play commissioned by the theatre, which explored the relationship between Europeans and emigrants, consumer society, non-democratic face of democracy, and the ideals of democracy.
- Slovenes presented their much-cherished author Drago Jančar and his play The Great Brilliant Waltz that spoke about brain-washing of élites when the difference between those who organise and those being organised fades away.
- The hyperbolised critical-feminist production What Happened When Nora Left Her Husband by Elfriede Jelinek, presented by the National Theatre Prague, was a theatre of detachment and rational commentary with quite a touch of humour.
- The Hungarian theatre Vígszínház presented itself with a kind of conciliatory yet disturbing text by Hanoch Levin, Those Who Pack Their Suitcases.
- Deutsches Theater Berlin decided to confrontthe past quite radically. In the play by the contemporary German author Mariane Salzmann, Mother Tongue mameloschn, three Jewish women, members of three generations most openly comment on their past and political affiliation of family members.
- The production by the Polish National Theatre in Warsaw presented a local play by Stanisłav Ignac Witkiewicz, The Anonymous Work. It touched upon the most current issue of politics in a theatre of saturated emotion and realistic experience delivered through not-so-realistic directorial input.
- The closing production by the Globe Theatre brought unorthodox and intentionally mocking text of Hamlet what offered an international perspective on reading classical literature.
The audiences could follow the texts also with the help of subtitles in a number of languages. Selected performances were followed by discussions with audience. The Drama chapter of the Festival brought together 21 international guests and observers from 12 countries.
The Festival also hosted a session of the committee of the European Theatre Convention.
Eurokontext.sk 2014: Opera
SND Opera put together Festival programme with four performances by out-of-Bratislava and international operas, and five shows by the SND Opera that had been in premièred during that season.
- The Opera of the National Theatre Prague brought Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra, directed by the internationally lauded David Pountney.
- The Ostrava-based National Moravian–Silesian Theatre staged Mirandolina by Bohuslav Martinů. His Italian version of the opera was first premièred in the Czech Republic. The Festival presence marked the first-ever performance of Mirandolina in Slovakia.
- The Opera of the State Theatre Košice featured with the Dialogues of the Carmelites by Francis Poulenc, which, too, was the first presentation of the production in Slovakia. The production received three nominations for the Dosky award and became the laureate in the Best Director category in recognition of the directorial input of Linda Keprtová.
- Punch and Judy, brought by the established Neue Oper Wien, was defined by the signature of the great British author Harrison Birtwistl. The opera was presented in Bratislava shortly after its première in Vienna.
Eurokontext.sk 2014: Ballet
SND Ballet brought to the Festival three international and five local productions.
- The Györ Ballet introduced the works Kodály and Vie En Rose. The supreme movement embodiment of music of the Hungarian composer Zoltán Kodály in choreography by László Velekei was followed by the captivating dance theatre to the music by Maurice Chevalier, Edith Piaf, Jacques Brel and Gilbert Bècaud interpreted their works through the authentic choreographic vocabulary of Ben Van Cauwenbergh.
- The Cheers of the Past by the Theatre of Dance Studio in Banská Bystrica, choreographed by Milan Tomášik, portrayed two worlds linked by inspiration of history and the striking power of contemporary dance.
- The Painted Bird was a multidisciplinary project by the New-York based Slovak choreographer Pavol Zuštiak. The production, addressing the issues of exile, uprootedness and otherness received in 2013 two Bessie Award nominations and the Best Dancer award that went to Jaro Viňarský. The performance, created by the musician Christian Frederickson from New York and the Slovak dancer Jaro Viňarský, toured a number of global stages.
Audiences in the largest theatre in Slovakia, the SND, had an opportunity to enjoy the very best of the current ballet repertoire composed of the works by major European artists. The Festival also brought the thrill of star performances by the first soloists of the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, Anastasia Goryacheva and Andrei Merkuriev who danced the main roles in Onegin, the production by Vasily Medvedev.