Cap á l'Est Festival creates dialogue of cultures

THE HISTORICAL mining town of Banská Štiavnica will transform into a hub of international culture in mid August while hosting the Cap á l'Est Festival. Once again, artists from across Europe will enliven venues throughout the city, including such unique spaces as a former mine.

Zuzana Kronerová is an ntraditional choice for the role of Marína.
photo: SME - Mirka Cibulková

THE HISTORICAL mining town of Banská Štiavnica will transform into a hub of international culture in mid August while hosting the Cap á l'Est Festival. Once again, artists from across Europe will enliven venues throughout the city, including such unique spaces as a former mine.

The fifth year of the festival of poetry, theatre, and music is dedicated to Slovak culture and Banská Štiavnica in particular.

"That is why we selected such a beloved work as Marína," Antónia Miklíková, the festival's executive director, told The Slovak Spectator.

Andrej Sládkovič wrote the love poem Marína in tribute to Mária Pišlová, a former native of Banská Štiavnica.

A play about Marína and Sládkovič, with extracts from the poem, will take place in the house in which the poet's muse once lived. Well-known Slovak actress Zuzana Krónerová will portray the main female role, while Slovak actor Ján Kožuch and French actor Jean-Luc Debattice will play Sládkovič.

The large interest in seeing this untraditional interpretation of Marína, who is usually portrayed as a captivating maiden but will be performed here by a middle-aged actress known for her zest in comedic and dramatic roles, persuaded the organizers to repeat the show during the festival.

The performance will be in more than one language, as is common at Cap á l'Est. As well as French and Slovak, which are the festival's main languages, performances will take place in Ruthenian/Rusyn, such as La Musica, which will be presented by the Alexander Duchnovič Theatre from Prešov.

Organizers say anyone can enjoy the shows if they're open to learning about other cultures through gestures, body language, music, and theatrical means.

As always, the festival will open with a concert. On August 16 at 18:00, twenty Roma musicians from Klenovec, the Podpoľanie region, and nearby villages, led by Ján Deme, will play original Gypsy tunes at Trojičné Square.

The festival also always introduces an untraditional instrument. This year, it's the fujara trombita, a 2.5-metre-long woodwind instrument similar to the alpine horn. Slovaks know such instruments mostly from abroad, but it is also common in Slovak folk music. Slovak musicians from Chrenovec-Brusno will play fujara trombitas, as well as the smaller, pipe-like Slovak instrument of shepherds, the fujara, from the town tower during the opening concert.

Because Slovakia entered the European Union a few years ago, the festival wants to better acquaint visitors with other European countries. Thus, the festival organizers devoted some of this year's programme to the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome.

One evening will celebrate the festival's multi-lingual character by reflecting on all the European poets who have taken part in it to date.

One of the other aims is to help preserve traditional culture. Angels in Church will be a concert of children from various regions of Slovakia who are keeping the musical traditions of their ancestors alive. The children will play the squeeze box (heligónka), bagpipe, as well as sing and dance traditional Slovak folk music. In the second part, Slovak and French children will sing each other's sacred and folk songs.

"We continue to provide opportunities for the challenged," Miklíková said. "This year, the Kreatív ensemble of the mentally and physically challenged from Klásov will perform a modernised telling of Little Red Riding Hood."

The festival also brings some of its programme to neighbouring towns so people in remote villages can enjoy it.

"This aspect of the festival is expanding," Miklíková said. "We are even thinking of making a separate festival out of in villages around Banská Štiavnica."

This year, the travelling section of the program will be a concert entitled A Dialogue of Instruments, featuring Japanese performer Michie Kuryu and English-Frenchman Robin Troman, and The Cuckoo that Stopped Cuckooing, a performance for children.

Film has become an inseparable part of the festival. The Iced Coffee with Tina Diosi programme on August 19 will bring two documentaries directed by this young Slovak director that deal with Marína and other women in Banská Štiavnica and relations within a team created exclusively by women.

Photos by František Kolář, who has been cooperating with the festival from its very beginning, will form the basis of the Look Back at Cap á l'Est (Obzretie za Capalestom) exhibition that will reflect on the festival's evolution. A display in the Evangelical Church will show depictions of the Immaculata, the mother of God and patron saint of Slovakia. An exhibition called 1957 - Signing The Treaty of Rome will document the cultural, social, and political situation in Slovakia and other signatory countries.

A concert by the world's only flute orchestra will close the festival on August 19 at 21:00. The 26-member French ensemble, which is performing in Slovakia for the first time, will play French compositions as well as works by Romanian composer Doďna Rotaru.

What:Cap á l'Est Festival
When:August 15-19
Where:venues in Banská Štiavnica and nearby villages
Tickets:Sk550 (festival pass); tickets for individual shows range from free to Sk200.

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