THE INTIMATE THEATRIUM TO SUPPORT MIME, SMALL PERFORMANCES

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MIME artist Juraj Benčík has been involved in mime theatre for six years now, two of them as a member of the acclaimed Milan Sládek group. His new show, entitled Ben-Ben Boy, which is an allusion to the first syllable of his surname as well as to mime's childish and playful side, was recently premiered at the newly opened Theatrium theatre.
A new addition to Bratislava's artistic scene, Theatrium sees itself as an alternative to the capital's other small theatres. It opened in February and hopes to offer showcase genres that are not represented elsewhere.


BENČÍK with makeup and without.
photo: Courtesy of Juraj Benčík

MIME artist Juraj Benčík has been involved in mime theatre for six years now, two of them as a member of the acclaimed Milan Sládek group. His new show, entitled Ben-Ben Boy, which is an allusion to the first syllable of his surname as well as to mime's childish and playful side, was recently premiered at the newly opened Theatrium theatre.

A new addition to Bratislava's artistic scene, Theatrium sees itself as an alternative to the capital's other small theatres. It opened in February and hopes to offer showcase genres that are not represented elsewhere.

"We would like to present the so-called minority genres, like chamber ballet and chamber opera," says Peter Janků, the art director of Theatrium. "Those are more intimate forms of performance, which enable more direct communication [between the artists and the audience]. The word 'chamber' does not only describe the size of the theatre but also refers to the fact that it's not a three-hour opus or a piece for a big orchestra."

One such example is Benčík's show, which is currently included in the theatre's programme. The one-man performance consists of seven short stories. Some of them feature classic themes like the tale of Cyrano de Bergerac, who, in Benčík's version, is a drinker called Cyrano de Cognac, and Samson and Delilah, in which the mime plays both the male and the female characters. Another biblical narrative in Benčík's repertoire is the story of creation from the book of Genesis.

Benčík says that developing a mime performance can take anywhere from three minutes, like when he is improvising, to many months. It can take up to a year before an idea turns into a performance on stage, he says.

The theatre is located near the unfinished building of the new Slovak National Theatre, which, together with the Danube riverbank, is an area intended for revitalisation. The Theatrium project also aims to bring new life to this area, which is not in the heart of the city.

Theatrium does not have an ensemble of its own, but aims to provide space for various artists to rehearse and perform. Besides modern dance and opera, mime is one of the key features of the programme. Benčík hopes that in the future, Theatrium will not only host solo mime performances but also become home to the Milan Sládek group, a previous resident of Bratislava's theatre Aréna.

The next Ben-Ben Boy performances are on March 24, and April 3 and 4. The shows start at 19:00, tickets cost Sk120 for students and Sk180 for others. Theatrium, Pressburgcentrum, Pribinova 2, Bratislava. Tel: 0903/516-465 or 0907/870-265. To get there take bus number 70, 71, 82, 85, or 89.

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