Outspoken and original productions addressing our society’s problems, pushing at the boundaries of traditional drama. Theatre companies from Hungary and Germany will appear at the International Theatre Festival Divadelná Nitra (27 September – 2 October 2019) to confront audiences with the limits imposed on the freedoms of vulnerable classes of society and the abuse of national pride.
“Re-evaluation of the past is a theme we have addressed at several editions of the festival, which is why we have now decided to focus on the faces of freedom and their theatrical reflection after 1989. We wanted to look at how we handle that freedom, how we cultivate it or ruin it. We were interested in seeing how theatre-makers reflect onit on stage and in genres that surpass the parameters of traditional drama,” says Ján Šimko, the curator of the festival’s foreign programme section. The curatorial selection includes a number of unusual productions that promise festival visitors a memorable theatrical experience.
One such piece is the Hungarian production Addressless – vagabond role game by STEREO AKT, an independent theatre company from Budapest, who will make their first appearance at Divadelná Nitra. Conceived as an interactive role-playing game, the play reflects on current events in Hungary, where the present political leadership continues to veer off from the principles of liberal democracy. This pioneering contemporary theatre collective regularly turns to artistic intervention as a means of response to burning political and social problems and engages audiences in the action on stage.
Each day, two to three Hungarian citizens lose their home. To work themselves out of the predicament, they need a good deal of help, determination and a fair amount of luck. Last year, Hungary outlawed rough sleeping, endangering the lives of thousands of homeless people. Do you know where you will be spending the night? Do you know what the weather will be like? When was the last time you took a warm meal or shower? Have you ever asked strangers for money? These questions are faced on a daily basis by people without a home. STEREO AKT have collected their true stories and turned them into a performative game, casting a real homeless person, a social worker and two actors. The audience, too, can become actively involved. “Through this play, audiences can test if they could survive on the street of a large European city. The play is steeped in authentic stories and testimonies of people who really have no home or who work with such people, but it is also a sort of experiment in solidarity,” explained Ján Šimko. The production, directed by Martin Boross, argues that the lack of an address really equals no right to freedom and asks audiences if they are willing to do something about it. The performance will be site-specific and will be the first show organised by Divadelná Nitra atthe local Párovské Háje Culture House.
A sound body does not merely house a sound mind but also unsound nationalism. This theme is broached in a comedy titled Second Essay on Gymnastics, created by the independent German collective Hauptaktion, who will likewise appear for their premiere at Divadelná Nitra. The production incorporates elements of dance, drama and performance and explores various gymnastics movements from the 19th century up to the present day.
“Against the backdrop of exercise and an effort to refine the body, the eight-member crew reflect on various nationalisms and national ideologies, which always stood behind these movements,” the play’s theme was elucidated by Ján Šimko. The first German public gymnastics movement emerged in 1811, when Friedrich Ludwig Jahn founded an association thatprovidedgymnasticstrainingtoprepareGerman youth for war with France. “Gymnastics movements have also encountered similar ideologies during the Third Reich and GDR, and the production addresses this, too. So, in a flight through the history of gymnastics organisations and exercise, we also make a fly-by of the history of German nationalisms,” adds Ján Šimko, the festival’s foreign section curator. However, Hauptkation emphasise that their dynamic production does not merely interrogate German gymnastics movements but that it is equally relevant in other parts of the world. “Our production tells of rules and scenarios one needs to fulfil in order to become part of a whole. And also, of the freedoms and limitations that come with this,” explained one of the creators, Oliver Zahn.
Besides performances in the main programme section, Divadelná Nitra will also feature a rich accompanying program that will reflect on this year’s festival theme – Podoby slobody / The Faces of Freedom.
The 28th year of Divadelná Nitra will feature performances and events at the Andrej Bagar Theatre in Nitra, the Karol Spišák Old Theatre in Nitra, the Synagogue, Nitra Gallery, the Regional Education Centre, the Karol Kmeťko Regional Library, as well as the Párovské Háje Culture House and at other cultural institutions, at the Festival Tent and elsewhere on Svätoplukovo námestie.
All information about the upcoming International Theatre Festival Divadelná Nitra, which will take place from 27 September until 2 October 2019, is available on our newly redesigned website www.nitrafest.sk. With its new website, Divadelná Nitra has also launched an on-line ticket sale on 1 August 2019, at: