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Cibulák: From pig fat to Hamlet

INSPIRED by the French tradition of performing theatre plays on town streets, a group of amateurs from the western Slovak town of Pezinok first organised a meeting of local theatre ensembles in 1987. None of the participants could have guessed their efforts would result in a festival of both local and international importance.
"We followed the French example where every town, large and small, has its own living theatre tradition," said Rastislav Kuttner from the Fairy-Tale civic association that is organising the local two-day Cibulák festival in Pezinok.

INSPIRED by the French tradition of performing theatre plays on town streets, a group of amateurs from the western Slovak town of Pezinok first organised a meeting of local theatre ensembles in 1987. None of the participants could have guessed their efforts would result in a festival of both local and international importance.

"We followed the French example where every town, large and small, has its own living theatre tradition," said Rastislav Kuttner from the Fairy-Tale civic association that is organising the local two-day Cibulák festival in Pezinok.

Celebrating its 15th anniversary this week, Cibulák recreates the atmosphere of medieval outdoor games and carnivals, when artists, charlatans and vagabonds alike moved from place to place to perform. The travelling acts were a chance for common people to enjoy plays and dances rich in picturesque costumes and performed on stages temporarily set up on main squares.

Pezinok citizens soon dubbed their festival Cibulák, named after a local delicacy (pig fat spread on a slice of bread and sprinkled with onion) which was served to visitors. In 1996 the festival first went beyond state borders by inviting ensembles from abroad. Since then Cibulák has hosted several recognised international theatre groups, such as Teatre Turbulence (France), Noryiuki Sawa (Japan), Teatr Novogo Fronta (Russia) and Sklep (Czech Republic). It has also promoted well-known names from the Slovak scene.

French theatre is traditionally associated with festivals, a fact that will be acknowledged by an artistic couple calling themselves Arthur and Astride. The pair will perform a play called Eldtraff, featuring fire tricks, acrobatic and juggling acts.

The well-known Swiss theatre group Metger Zimmermann de Perrot arrives with the play Goph, which they have staged all over the world. Through dance and live DJ performances, two actors offer their vision of freedom.

The Slovak troupe Túlavé divadlo (Wandering Theatre) offers a humorous version of Hamlet. Organisers say that the light and playful rendition will be understandable even for a public unfamiliar with the plot of the tragedy.

Although still run by laymen, Cibulák is today in the database of European theatre events, and marks the beginning of local summer festivals in Pezinok and other small Slovak towns.

"We all have different professions in 'real life'. But we have managed to turn Pezinok into a theatre town, for one weekend at least," said Kuttner.

What: Cibulák theatre festival
Where: Pezinok
When: June 28-29
Tickets: Free to Sk350, possibility of staying overnight in local sport hall for Sk30
Telephone: 033/6403-405, 0905/848-433 (Rastislav Kuttner)
How to get there: Regular bus lines from Bratislava to Pezinok from the Mlynské Nivy bus station
For more information see www.cibulak.sk

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