Theatre and dance at Divadelná Nitra.
photo:Courtesy Divadelná Nitra
Organisers had just completed the 21-performance schedule for Slovakia's largest theatre festival, Divadelná Nitra, when terrorists struck the US September 11, raising doubts as to whether the highly-anticipated David Parker & the Bang Group would make it to Slovakia from New York City.
"We hope that they get here," said Juraj Gerbery, festival spokesperson. "But the number of flights from New York is still restricted."
Parker and his company would be the festival's first-ever participants from the US, performing Beautification, a four-part dance performance in which the "actor-dancer-percussionists create a kind of rhythmic poetry out of the embarrassments of human relations".
While it will put a damper on the festival if David Parker & the Bang Group don't make it, organisers promise a full and varied programme of events regardless.
Now in its tenth year, Divadelná Nitra mixes European and North American drama with the best of Slovak theatre. Companies from Great Britain, Poland, Bulgaria, Belgium, Hungary, France, Russia and the Czech Republic will join five Slovak groups on three Nitra stages for an average of four performances daily. All non-Slovak performances will be simultaneously translated into Slovak.
The festival opens Friday, September 28 at 17:30 with Shakespeare's Hamlet performed in Slovak by the Andrej Bagar Theatre (from Nitra). The raunchy comedy English is easy, Csaba is dead, by Theatre Gunagu (from Bratislava) will play the following day at 15:00 and 22:00. Although predominantly in Slovak, the hilarious story of Slovak mafiosi learning the English language is straight-forward and visual enough for novice Slovak-speakers, although basic knowledge of vulgar slang will help.
The festival's only English-speaking drama group, London's Frantic Assembly, will perform Underground, a story of four women whose haunting pasts give rise to fresh arguments and fears. Underground was recommended to the festival by an employee at the British Council who had seen it in the UK earlier this year. Frantic Assembly is looking forward not only to performing, but also to seeing Slovak theatre.
"We have done much International touring over the last few years, but unfortunately have never seen Slovak practitioners before," said Frantic Assembly's director Vicki Coles. "Performing at the festival will give us that opportunity. And there is so much to see. It's going to be a busy trip."
Divadelná Nitra will host informal meetings with directors and actors following performances, hold conferences on international theatre, and screen several films, including Lars von Trier's moving Dancer in the Dark. Also look for exhibitions and concerts in Nitra during the time of the festival. Tickets (40-180) for all performances on sale at the Divadlo Andreja Bagara (Andrej Bagar Theatre) on Svätoplukovo námestie 4 in Nitra. Tel: 037/7721-577(9). For more information check www.nitrafest.sk.
By Zuzana Habšudová