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Silvester Lavrík: The Theatre Director

That Slovak audiences still have a thriving domestic amateur theatre to attend is due largely to the efforts of Silvester Lavrík.
Lavrík, 35, a Slovak amateur theatre director and playwright, has managed not only to survive years of government underfunding, but even to prosper. A graduate of the Faculty of Education in Prešov and a student of the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava, Lavrík has written and directed 10 amateur theatre pieces since he began his career in the mid-1980's.
He is currently the focal point of amateur theatre in Slovakia, a field in which more than 15,000 Slovak amateur (unpaid) actors 'employ' their talents. He has founded four amateur theatre companies and organises several annual national festivals. "I try to bring living culture to the stage," he said.


photo: Soňa Bellušová

That Slovak audiences still have a thriving domestic amateur theatre to attend is due largely to the efforts of Silvester Lavrík.

Lavrík, 35, a Slovak amateur theatre director and playwright, has managed not only to survive years of government underfunding, but even to prosper. A graduate of the Faculty of Education in Prešov and a student of the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava, Lavrík has written and directed 10 amateur theatre pieces since he began his career in the mid-1980's.

He is currently the focal point of amateur theatre in Slovakia, a field in which more than 15,000 Slovak amateur (unpaid) actors 'employ' their talents. He has founded four amateur theatre companies and organises several annual national festivals. "I try to bring living culture to the stage," he said.

Lavrík's art, which follows progressive European theatre trends, has also won international acclaim. He won the 1996 Alfréd Radok Prize, awarded in Prague for the best screenplay in the Czech or Slovak languages, and placed third the following year. He is invited to several foreign festivals a year, from Poland to the Phillipines.

What separates Lavrík from his theatre contemporaries is that he had never regarded government funding as his right. Instead, Lavrík says that he has "lobbied" hard in the community to raise funds when he has a play he wants to stage, and never curried favour with either the communist regime or the Mečiar government to win support for his projects.

"I am a realist, maybe even a cynic, when it comes to financing," he said. "I do think there should be a better system of state financing, but I go and stage my plays wherever I find opportunities. I never sit on my hands waiting for money."

The freedom that Lavrík has won from the funding dependency that has afflicted so many other theatre companies has also influenced his work. Many of his plays are ribald send-ups of myths that Slovaks cherish about themselves, and they brought a fresh element of artistic merit to the Slovak theatre scene in the 1990's.

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