What a piece of work

HAMLET, one of the most staged performances ever in theatre, will be presented twice to the Slovak public in late June, with the prince of Denmark losing his mirth both in a regular theatre as well as on the cobblestones of a western Slovak town.
The double billing is not an accident, but is the fruit of two simultaneous theatre festivals called EuroThalia and Cibulák which will run in Slovakia in the last week of June only 15 kilometres apart. A handful of international thespians will perform both recent and classic plays in the capital and on the streets of the nearby wine region town Pezinok.


THE SLOVAK play Le Ball will be staged June 29.
photo: Courtesy of Slovak National Theatre

HAMLET, one of the most staged performances ever in theatre, will be presented twice to the Slovak public in late June, with the prince of Denmark losing his mirth both in a regular theatre as well as on the cobblestones of a western Slovak town.

The double billing is not an accident, but is the fruit of two simultaneous theatre festivals called EuroThalia and Cibulák which will run in Slovakia in the last week of June only 15 kilometres apart. A handful of international thespians will perform both recent and classic plays in the capital and on the streets of the nearby wine region town Pezinok.

EuroThalia is being organised by the European Theatre Convention, an international association of theatres. It brings 11 plays from 11 countries to Bratislava's two main theatre stages from June 24 to 30. Cibulák, an open-air festival taking place on the streets, squares and parks of Pezinok, will last only over the June 28-29 weekend.

"Europe wants to be unified in all fields except for culture. Eleven plays from eleven countries show how diverse that field can be," said Dušan Jamrich, the director of the Slovak National Theatre and the head of the EuroThalia festival.

Like any other traditional theatre festival, EuroThalia will also review the best European plays performed on theatre stages. Every evening, the theatres will host works by dramatists such as William Shakespeare, Samuel Beckett and Franz Kafka, followed by discussions of issues faced by contemporary playwrights. The debates will move from human emotions to censorship problems, and will illustrate turbulent periods with the individuals captured in them.

Contrary to EuroThalia, the two-day Cibulák 'alternative' festival is aimed not only at regular theatre-goers but also at passersby.


WAITING for Godot will be played by a French duo.
photo: Courtesy of Slovak National Theatre

"Theatre should be for everybody, not only for audiences educated in the field," said Rastislav Kuttner from the Fairy-Tale civic association, which is organising Cibulák. "This is what we are aiming for."

Lively theatrical performances full of dance, fire games, circus and acrobatic elements will flood the Pezinok historical centre. Temporary stages will be erected on the squares and streets, and will be small and low enough to narrow the gap between audience and actors that is so difficult to bridge at traditional theatres.

While meetings and educated discussions with dramatists and actors will follow each EuroThalia performance, Cibulák's public can switch from theatre to live concerts by local and foreign bands. The local culture centre will screen recently made animated movies, while African drumming parades will march the streets, inviting people to join in.

Whereas the annual Cibulák festival calls for entertainment and fun, giving young artists the chance to experiment, EuroThalia is seen as a chance for Slovak theatre to increase its reputation on the international stage.

"This festival is very important for us because it doesn't occur every day. We may not see it again in Slovakia for the next 20 years," said Jamrich.

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