T h e...C I R C L E S...S E L E C T I O N
Sterijino Pozorje Festival
Novi Sad
May 26th - June 4th 2007



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SUNDAY - MAY 27th 2007
Small Stage, Serbian National Theatre

Tena Stivicic


Mladinsko Theatre, Ljubljana (Slovenia)


Translation LANA DODIG
Dramaturge OLGA KACJAN
Language consultant BARBARA ROGELJ
Costume designer MATEJA BENEDETTI
Set designer SANDI MIKLUZ
Selection of music
MATJAZ POGRAJC and the creative team

Film director BLAZ SVENT
Computer manipulation and programming

Duration: 2 h 10 min (no interval)
Premiere: December 27th 2005


T H E A T R E......

The Mladinsko Theatre was established in 1955 as the first professional theatre for children and youth in Slovenia. In the eighties, it was gradually re-structured into a theatre which interdisciplinarily combined borderline theatre research and the thematisation of political subversiveness. Today, it is known for a wide range of innovative poetics of various young directors and the phenomenon of "ensemble energy" - the Brook approach towards acting, which is not based on star hierarchy, but on an acting laboratory connecting individual bravura parts into a strong whole of the acting ensemble. In its performances, the Mladinsko Theatre strives to thematise universal paradoxes of the civilisation, with its programme based on the problematisation of new times and spaces. The Mladinsko Theatre will continue to develop the code of new theatrical practice, new visual paradigms, new views on the classics, modernism and postmodernism. At the Mladinsko Theatre, the actor, director, choreographer, set designer, musician... all research and develop, risk and create in order to develop a new spectator through their gestures.

P E R F O R M A N C E......

Mila dreams of becoming a musical star. But as a start, she is only the star of an obscure club in North London, with the guests breaking glasses and pinching the star’s behind on a regular basis. Marko dreams of becoming a comedian. He is a waiter for the time being. Gayle will become a famous fine artist some day, but is temporarily working with refugees. Tjasa has travelled Europe as a victim of trafficking. She has only dreamt of coming to London and finding someone who at one time, a while ago, promised her "forever". Erik used to be a war correspondent. He experienced an explosion at the Bosnian front and touched The Other Side. Today, the only purpose he sees in life is pleasure. They all come to London searching for something they consider impossible to find anywhere else. While they are waiting for the moment when their dream life begins, their lives intertwine at Michi’s club. Here, they find something else, something they have not at all expected - maturity, more precisely "adulthood". And the time they only considered to be a wait, actually turns out to be the key moment of their fates.

In the show Fragile! we can observe both: theatrically effective and extremely suggestively balanced idea of the plot written by Tena Stivicic, and complicated technical machinery which is used to present this idea to us. The video, dolls and scale models serve a wider purpose and are not exhausted in the director’s self-satisfaction; rather they produce an authentic theatrical play, supported by fragmental structure of the work, transposing it into a unique and independent theatrical text. These are the foundations supporting the show which mocks the media of television and addresses the conscience of the world resting on the voyeurism of the Big Brother, but simultaneously minutely analyses the spiritual pain of those who have lost their homes, existences and identities on the territory of ex-Yugoslavia. These people are at the same time guinea pigs and experimenters in a mysterious global project, victims and perpetrators in a world which has lost all sense, actors and directors in a grand cabaret testifying that misery and suffering can easily become entertainment for the others.
Jury of the Borstnikova srecanja, October 25th 2006


The new play by Tena Stivicic follows the ‘small stories’ of a group of emigrants from some ex-countries and worlds (Yugoslavia, the USSR, the Eastern bloc), who live in the West. Director Matjaz Pograjc uses video technology, which is very popular in theatre nowadays (Castorf, Goebbels, Pollesch), but does it in a well-thought out and justified way: the excellent cast performs on an empty stage, while models of different places are projected onto the screen behind them - human drama is the same everywhere; geographical, national and social surroundings are just a changeable backdrop. The play was awarded the best in Slovenia last season.



Tena Stivicic was born in Zagreb. She received her B.A. in Dramaturgy at the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Zagreb. She is currently completing her M.A. studies at Goldsmith College in London. She has written six plays that were produced in professional and "off" theatres in Croatia and in several other European countries; they were also published and broadcast on Croatian, German and Slovak Radio. Her play Ya Can’t Run Away From Sunday won the "Marin Drzic" Award, and the University President’s Award and was published in the collection of Croatian plays of the 90s "New Croatian Drama". She participated in the Internet project of the Royal Court Theatre from London where she wrote the short story We are Water for the BBC World Service.
She is a columnist for the magazine "Zaposlena", contributor to the theatre periodical "Kazaliste".
Plays produced in professional theatres:
Ya Can’t Run Away From Sunday (Zagreb Youth Theatre, 1999, Ljubljana City Theatre, Slovenia; Raum Dreiundreisig, Switzerland)
Knight’s Story, Episode 1 - Parsiphal (Small Stage Theatre, Zagreb, 2001)
Two of Us (Atelje 212, Belgrade; Croatian National Theatre Zagreb - Habunek Scene, 2003)
Shhhhhh (Tresnja Theatre, Zagreb, 2003)

A U T H O R ...

Tena Stivicic is one of the most intriguing dramatists of the younger generation, who has had a number of staged dramas and received awards in Croatia and abroad. Besides being the only Croatian writer who lives abroad, trying to make a name for herself on very demanding British market, Tena Stivicic is an exceptional domestic author whose drama, Fragile, premiered abroad.
She is currently living and working in London, where the Royal Court Theatre - the most famous theatre in the world dedicated to the new drama (premiered dramas by, for example, Sarah Kane and Marko Ravenhill) - celebrating half a century of its existence, listed her among 50 young promising authors who it decided to inaugurate by commissioning and performing their dramas. (...)
"Fragile" speaks of your emigrant experiences. What do you see as especially dramatic about being a foreigner in London?
- Life in emigration is like a continual walk on a tightrope, and even more so with a career in such an uncertain profession. Being foreigner in a country swarming with foreigners and not liking it means living in a perpetual quiet competition with the culture you don’t belong to. This means being an outsider and trying constantly to jump over an invisible crossbar with your various small and big projects. This is in itself dramatic. (...)
You have become one of the writers the Royal Court, a theatre of the world renown, is offering a chance. How? And what does that mean for your future?
- The Royal Court decided to inaugurate 50 new writers as a part of its 50th anniversary celebration, with the support of BBC. 50 British theatres nominated one writer each, so I got listed among them. What will that mean? It boosts the ego and self-esteem because it gives a kind of acknowledgement that what I write has a certain impact. It will open some possibilities I wouldn’t have had otherwise, but it also means competing further. That’s how the things work there - it’s a constant competition.
Why was "Fragile" produced in Slovenia; did you offer it to somebody in Croatia?
- There are more reasons for that. The first is Matjaz Pograjc - we had been talking about him directing of one of my dramas for years and now we finally actualised it with this project. The other reason is the languages. The play was originally written in English, on different levels of the language spoken by immigrants. I’m currently living, thinking and writing in two languages, in the place where languages, dialects and accents are constantly mixed. The issue of multi-linguistics preoccupies my writing together with the problem of how to find a stage language which would be performable, yet true to reality, considering the fact that it has become impossible for me to think of a single story in which all characters belong to the same language, same race, same culture. So it was hard for me to translate it into Croatian because in this situation it is a very complicated task. Nevertheless, I finally had to get down to it for the Marulić Days. (...)
Jasen BOKO - Tena STIVICIC (www.slobodnadalmacija.hr)



Born 1967. Studies in theatre and radio direction (AGRFT, Ljubljana). In 1990, he founded the Betontanc group, with which he develops and researches choreographical and physical forms of stage expression, employing ideologically oriented themes - especially from the world of urban adolescence. Another important part of his research is dedicated to verbal theatrical structure; with the aid of the Mladinsko Theatre ensemble, Pograjc explores a directional concept based on original interpretations of contemporary dramatic texts or the contributions of the acting team. His method of interpretation involves different genres of pop culture, under which he discovers modern archetypal models of a lost civilization, chaos, violence and cruelty.
Major works:
Chronicles of a Dreamy Youth, Ljubljana, 1989.
Poets without Pockets, Glej Theatre, Ljubljana, 1990.
Romeo and Juliet, Glej Theatre, Ljubljana, 1991.
Every Word a Gold Coin Worth, Glej Theatre, Ljubljana, 1992.
Wet Hanky Thieves, Glej Theatre and Cankarjev Dom, Ljubljana, supported by CNDC L'Esquisse de Angers, France, 1993.
Know Your Enemy!, Glej Theatre and Cankarjev Dom, Ljubljana, 1995.
On Three Sides of Heaven, Glej Theatre, Ljubljana, 1997.
The Secret Sunshine Schedule, Bunker Productions, Ljubljana, 1999.
Midnight Meat Flight, Bunker Productions in co-operation with Mladinsko Theatre, 2000.
Maison des rendez-vous, Bunker Productions, Mladinsko Theatre and Centre Choréographique National de Rennes et de Bretagne, 2002.
Wrestling Dostoievsky, Bunker Productions, Vienna, 2004.
Everybody for Berlusconi, Junghollandia and Betontanc, a coproduction of ZT Holandia and Bunker Productions, 2004.
Show Your Face!, Betontanc and Umka.LV, a coproduction of Bunker Productions and New Theatre Institute of Latvia, 2006.
Mladinsko Theatre, Ljubljana:
B.-M. Koltès: Roberto Zucco, 1994
Butterendfly (based on M. Butterfly by David Hwang), co-produced by Mladinsko Theatre and Glej Theatre, Ljubljana, 1995.
A Place I've Never Been, 1996.
D. Z. Frey: Tirza, 1997.
Who's Afraid of Tennessee Williams?, 1999.
The House of Bernarda Alba (based on F. G. Lorca and original contributions of the performers), 2000.
J. M. Barrie - M. Pograjc: Peter Pan, co-produced by Mladinsko Theatre and Puppet Theatre Ljubljana, 2001.
P. Weiss: The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat, 2002.
Play it Again, Caligula (A. Camus: Caligula), 2003.
Dasa Dobersek, Branko Jordan, Natasa Matjasec: Luluby, 2004.
Tena Stivicic: Fragile!, 2005.
Fabio Rubiano O.: The Whale’s Belly, 2006.
Andrej Rozman Roza: Arabela, Café Teater, 1995.
Alan Alexander Milne - Blazka Müller Pograjc: Winnie-the-Pooh, Ljubljana Puppet Theatre, 2004.Beatrix Potter - Blazka Müller Pograjc: Peter Rabbit, Ljubljana Puppet Theatre, 2005.

R E V I E W S......

It is a demanding task to convey in a few words why and how yesterday's performance turned out to be so fascinating and at what point has the show as a whole, appearing in the combination with technology and living people as a faultless machine, drawn our attention so completely as to make the miracle of theatre happen. It is designed as an intermixture of play in the background complemented by recordings of the same play further accompanied by recordings of miniature scenes and interiors projected on the screen. It sounds complicated and it is so. With a neck-breaking speed the actors changed from cameramen to animators to players on the stage, so that it all seemed on the verge of impossibility. However, the machinery, which can also be interpreted as a multilayered metaphor of contemporary time, is but an accessory in this moving story about modern emigrants in London, the promised town for a Serbian, Croatian, Bulgarian, Russian, Norwegian war reporter, and a social worker.
Tadeja KRECIC (Radio Slovenija, December 27th 2005)

Fragile! is technically complex, however the message the play puts forward is unusually transparent. Its principal quality is that the highlighted form, or to put it better, technique, does not override the concept. (...) And the effect?  A rather crude, but nevertheless economical "theatre movie", perhaps reminiscent in the style of the Yugoslavian "Black Wave" or one of the socially inspired films by Lukas Moodyson, surprisingly well directed and "edited" (...). (...) here are an English social worker and unrealized conceptual artist, a cynical Norwegian war reporter, who is constantly dying, an unsuccessful Croatian actress, temporarily a dancer, a Bulgarian owner of a bar, a Serbian stand-up comedian, temporarily a bartender, a loving Russian woman and a Bosnian cleaning lady, each of them speaking in their "own", as authentic as circumstances allow, language. Similarly complex as the inventive visual is also the verbal side of the play, a true linguistic Babylon, which is - again - above all due to the enthusiastic performance quite watchfully in support of the main concept.
Itis dramaturgically correct and thoughtfully directed. "Dictated" by more than well written drama by Tena Stivicic is a study of a relationship between a foreign country and homeland. The company of Balkan Slavic emigrants, refugees and drifters, who identify themselves with passports and not identity cards, lead in London (the setting of the play may be understood also in a broader sense) their small, but emotionally full lives (...)
The world of Stivicic/Pograjc is not a world of "blood and sperm", it is more lyrical, and due to its musical support consisting of popular Yugoslavian music of the seventies and eighties, a rather sentimental and truly fragile, although constantly dramatic, world. Neda R. Bric, Sebastijan Cavazza, Janja Majzelj, Marko Mlacnik, Matej Recer, Katarina Stegnar, and Marinka Stern belong to it entirely, from the beginning till the end which - that is the pure end of this inventive, significant performance - is indeed kind, but not very encouraging: their "submerging" into the miniature world into which they set their manufactured substitutes represents a loss of identity, although we remain believing that deep in their "heart" still beats the memory of home, the only guarantee of their uniqueness.
Blaz LUKAN (Delo, December 29th 2005)

Despite numerous qualities of the text which with its sensibility and vitality brings new force to traumatic issues dealing with the break-up of former Yugoslavia it is the carefully thought-out concept of its stage realization that makes the debut production of Fragile! a truly superior event. In the centre of the multileveled scenography by Sandi Mikluž is a massive projection screen, at the forefront we see miniature models of individual scene settings, set at the back is a bare studio where actors either perform their scenes or shoot the scenes of their colleagues. On the screen their recordings merge with the interiors of the model settings, acting and documentary material recorded in advance, and computer animation (Jasmin Talundžic); through this the rudimentary theatre-cinematic material (directed by Blaz Svent) is created on the spot; material that thanks to its suggestive rhetoric of cuts and fusion manages to lift the production above the realistic starting point of the written work. The second shift in the production is the fact that it (self)ironically involves Slovene environment; let us mention the lucid stand-up performance of the paltry adaptation of Colic’s song Ti si mi u krvi (You Are Under My Skin) and the walk scene set by Ljubljanica instead of at the south bank of the Thames.
(...) Neda R. Bric, Sebastijan Cavazza, Janja Majzelj, Marko Mlacnik, Matej Recer, Katarina Stegnar and Marinka Stern on a thin and transparent line between acting and distance, stage and cameras, fictional characters and personal investment into them create psychologically supported, linguistically diverse and dramaturgically persuasive characters who despite their differences speak about one and the same thing: everything can be experienced as "our own", not because of the common past to which we turned our backs on anyway, but because of the fundamental position of fragility, loneliness and alienation which today no one can escape.
Petra POGOREVC (Dnevnik, Ljubljana, January 3rd 2006)

On the last evening of the competitive programme of the Marulic’s days a space ship landed on the stage of HNK Split (Croatian National Theatre Split), out of which stepped seven citizens of a superior theatre civilization. After a number of productions belonging to the 19th century we have seen on the festival so far Croatia witnessed a representation of a theatre performance of the 21st century.
Mladinsko Theatre with Tena Stivicic’s Fragile! directed (mind you, directed!) by Matjaž Pograjc brought about such a draught of creativity that it blew away the dust of lifeless remains of baroque drama and acting from the former Parisian boulevards inhabiting the halls of the theatre in Split and Croatian theatre community so far. (...)
Fragile! by the Mladinsko Theatre demonstrates what constitutes modern theatre production: it established a concept, idea which it developed throughout the entire production, but nevertheless leaving space - furthermore, giving space - to the actors and text. Pograjc set the drama in the TV studio and through exploitation of the given opportunities offered by the modern technology created a theatre movie about contemporary sensibility in which each one of us is just a character in a reality show. (...)
In this project the actors are at the same time theatre characters and those who record their lives and project it on the screen; the position of man in this alienated, technologically developed vision of the world is immensely complex and corresponds to the Big Brother civilization which we are actually living and which changes our life into live broadcast of documentary material.
The fascinating production also exhibited superiority in acting: Neda R. Bric, Sebastijan Cavazza, Janja Majzelj, Marko Mlacnik, Matej Recer, Katarina Stegnar and Marinka Stern put forward a genuine representation of contemporary acting capable of manipulating with both the theatre and television medium and finding balance between both of them. It originated from Stanislavski, but did not stay there; it went one step further, into documentary, building its artistic system on naturalness. (...)
In normal theatre circumstances we should load the Slovene space shuttle before leaving the Split stage with all maruls, this year’s awards for artistic achievements at the festival, and wave them goodbye for a long time at their departure into a better theatre future.
Jasen BOKO (Slobodna Dalmacija, April 29th 2006)
.The management preserves the right to change the schedule
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