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LARGE EXHIBITION OFFERS A BACKSTAGE LOOK AT THE HISTORY OF SLOVAK THEATRE

All the world's a stage

"THEATRE is a phenomenon without which it is not worth living," says Peter Maráky, the director of the Slovak National Museum.
Given such commentary, it is not surprising that Maráky helped put together one of the largest theatre-inspired exhibitions in the history of Slovakia - and certainly the biggest one of 2005.
The Theatre: Passion, Body and Voice, currently showing at the Slovak National Museum, reveals Slovak theatre in all of its historic, social and artistic splendour.


THE FIRST SND's ensemble with director Bedřich Jeřábek.
photo: Courtesy of Theatre Institute

"THEATRE is a phenomenon without which it is not worth living," says Peter Maráky, the director of the Slovak National Museum.

Given such commentary, it is not surprising that Maráky helped put together one of the largest theatre-inspired exhibitions in the history of Slovakia - and certainly the biggest one of 2005.

The Theatre: Passion, Body and Voice, currently showing at the Slovak National Museum, reveals Slovak theatre in all of its historic, social and artistic splendour. It covers theatrical events from medieval times to the latest theatrical trends up to 2000. Special attention is given to 1920, the year that professional theatre in Slovakia was born.


MARTIN Gregor and Tamara Corpona-Bagarová.
photo: Courtesy of Theatre Institute

The Theatre: Passion, Body and Voice stems from an idea that Maráky presented to Slovakia's Theatre Institute in 2003: map the country's theatrical history in a museum exhibition. Two years later, after a year of research and countless subsequent hours collecting the material to put on display, the exhibition lifted its curtains last Thursday.

According to Maráky, the Slovak National Museum had to undergo construction work to accommodate some of the exhibits.

"It was a challenge for us to show everything we had hidden in our archives," said Silvia Hroncová, director of Slovakia's Theatre Institute.

Organized by the Slovak National Theatre (SND), Slovakia's Theatre Institute and the Slovak National Museum in cooperation with regional Slovak theatres, several museums and the Vienna Theatre Institute, the exhibition is designed for a broad audience.


HANA Meličková as Salome at SND, 1926.
photo: Courtesy of Theatre Institute

Throughout the museum, which offers 1,300 square metres of theatre exhibition space, visitors can find countless photographs and posters. Up to 50 original costume and set designs point to the skills of local designers, while 80 costumes offer a fashion show through various historical periods. Numerous stage and theatre building models give viewers a closer look into theatre architecture.

Radio recordings and film clips bring voice and movement to the event. Families with children can attend interactive workshops, watch puppet plays and listen to concerts four days a week.

Among the most interesting artefacts on display is the curtain of Bratislava's Old Town Theatre from 1776. Not an original, the curtain (made especially for this exhibition) is a copy based on a 1929 painting by Gustáv Wintersteiner.


CURTAIN of the Old Town Theatre based on the original of 1776.
photo: Courtesy of Theatre Institute

The oldest set designs are originals by Ľudovít Hradský. One is a model for Shakespeare's Hamlet; the other is a blueprint for Bella's opera, Wieland the Smith. Both were created for the Slovak National Theatre in 1925 and 1926, respectively.

"Of course, we didn't manage to bring everything to the exhibition, but I think we succeeded in mapping the history of theatre in Slovakia accurately," says Hroncová. She believes that The Theatre: Passion, Body and Voice will become one of the most popular exhibitions of the year.

The exhibition is part of a larger project by Slovak National Museum curators to document Slovakia's development in the 20th century. The exhibition also coincides with the 85th anniversary of the founding of the national theatre.

As part of the entrance fee, visitors receive basic information on the project and its creators, as well as a list of current happenings on the Slovak theatre scene.

The Theatre: Passion, Body and Voice is showing at the Slovak National Museum at Vajanského nábrežie 2 until May 29. It is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00 to 17:00. Tel: 02/5934-9122.

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