The Republic of Slovenia
On the 25th anniversary of Slovenian independence
Co-production: Slovensko Mladinsko Gledališèe and Maska Ljubljana
Premiere: 20 April 2016
This is a performance The Republic of Slovenia. In it, a retired intelligence officer tells a story about counting millions, then six important men ponder the fate of Slovenia which is turning into a mafia state, then six important men, presidents and ministers play with arms and human destinies around the round table, and finally a group of soldiers takes on a spy. This is a performance The Republic of Slovenia. It has been running for twenty-five years and it has been produced with your money. And all this time you have been – as an extra or as a big player – its part.
Three situations from the time after the independence, when we were living a collective story of success, while somewhere in the background completely different things were taking place. Three stories about a hidden piece of recent history we can hardly be proud of: a testimony of an executor of orders, an exact transcript of a debate among those who issued orders, and five versions of the event which in its time was an affair and then grew into a myth and changed a perfectly ordinary name of a perfectly ordinary village into a synonym for something that everybody knows everything about, and at the same time knows nothing, into something about what books are written and words are murmured on street corners. Apparently nothing in it can be deemed apt as truth and reality, which in reality a number of people deem pretty apt.
Inter faeces et urinam nascimur. Birthing is a wonderful and dirty business and the creation of a state is sunk in fog; somewhere between heroism and corruption, between the UN palace and mafia underground, in time when the wisdom and vigour of leaders were put to test. When a man gets power into his hands his true nature shows; this is when he is revealed, one way or another. Some were revealed in one way. Some in another.
To celebrate its sixtieth anniversary, the Mladinsko Theatre, one of the most recognisable ambassadors of Slovenian art internationally, has committed itself to look with pride into events which have constituted the state, which have left a crucial imprint of the national fibre and have awakened us as national subjects, as citizens. The theatre is joined by the Maska Institute, founded at the exact same time as the events which made The Republic of Slovenia became the way she is.
Our citizen duty is to look at the post-independence period; at the time when dreams were no longer sufficient or allowed.
The foundation of every country is a crime, we learnt when we were young. Fine, but does that mean that the Slovenian state is thus founded on criminal acts, that we’re all citizens of a mafia state as the performance suggests? This is that punch in the gut, and this question is the reason that you have to see the performance. In order to remember all this once again, in order to (like Oedipus) perhaps know ourselves and notice the context which creates filthy history from our present. Not only would we see (for a moment), and then sacrifice our blank stares to new blindings, but, perhaps, some time in future, also take action. As citizens.
Janez Pipan, Dnevnik, 30 April 2016
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, more precisely, from the staging of Missa in a minor.
In the 1980s it became a breeding ground for the development of new performance aesthetics and politics, for new forms of postmodern and late-socialist politicised theatre. Mladinsko was thus constantly dynamised by diverse and exceptionally strong-minded artists: Balbina Battelino Baranovič, Dominik Smole, Mile Korun, Dušan Jovanović and Ljubiša Ristić. The decade of the 1980s was marked by the projects by Ljubiša Ristić at its very beginning: Missa in a minor started the series of projects that profiled the Mladinsko Theatre as the nexus of the political and at the same time experimental spheres. Simultaneously, the mid-1980s witnessed the emergence of poetics that were not bound by the current political affairs. To start with, there were the projects by Vito Taufer, then the performances by Janez Pipan, and Scheherezade by Ivo Svetina and directed by Tomaž Pandur, Dragan Živadinov’s NSK or Neue Slowenische Kunst retro-avant-guard projects … This outline has continued throughout the 1990s until the present day, representing the years of subversive tactics and aesthetic innovations in the performances by Eduard Miler, Matjaž Pograjc, Vito Taufer, Janez Janša (then Emil Hrvatin), Tomi Janežič, Matjaž Berger, Diego de Brea, Jernej Lorenci, Ivica Buljan, Jan Decorte, Oliver Frljić, Borut Šeparović, Mark Tompkins, Michał Borczuch and other contemporary theatre artists.
The Mladinsko Theatre thus became a theatre organism that is constantly on the road. With its ensemble and directors, who, carried by fantasy, continuously create new parallel worlds to introduce them to constantly emerging new audiences. These strong signatures held together by a Peter Brook-inspired commitment to research and Artaudian accents of a non-theological theatre have heralded and enabled the aesthetic boom over the past two decades.
In its new projects, Mladinsko is dealing with the symptomisation of the society, and shows the recorded symptoms using the appropriate performative procedures. For this reason, public space becomes an equal performance space.
Registered in 1993, Maska Institute is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation for publishing, production, education, and research. It is divided into three departments: Maska Productions (performances, interdisciplinary and visual artworks), Maska Publishing (Maska, Performing Arts Journal as well as books and other publications on contemporary performance and society), and Maska Symposium (an ongoing seminar about contemporary stage arts). Its activities engage in contemporary art and theory, research, experimental performing practices, interdisciplinary art, and critical theory all with a strong emphasis on international cooperation, especially throughout the entire space of Europe.
Maska Productions produces performances and other interdisciplinary, visual, and new media events by innovative, exploring artists as well as first projects of the youngest generation. The performances range from engaged interdisciplinary performances tackling issues such as identity, intimacy, (Slovene) political reality, and mass entertainment to more genre dance works. Maska's latest productions have toured in numerous European countries, the USA, Asia and Africa.