Art is an important and daily part of the life of every human being. It yields new inspirations and ways of thinking about the world, addresses society’s problems and often caricatures them. Grasping and understanding the language of art has become a tool toward achieving a better understanding of the world around us. It is not merely important to learn to know a different culture and its forms of expression but also and especially to understand the artistic values of one’s national culture. We need to understand the artistic language and forms of depiction in the present world, because they indicate society’s course in the future.
As usual, this year’s International Theatre Festival Divadelná Nitra offers an artistic programme suited for a demanding audience and a whole array of possible perspectives on important socio-cultural questions. The theme of the 29. Divadelná Nitra, territory ethos, invites numerous questions and demands answers in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak and issues of social morality in general (questions of living space, protection of privacy, the limits of intimacy, family relationships, generational membership, the meaning of education and culture outside systems of education and culture, basic material existence and physical survival). Informal education offers a platform for their mutual confrontation and an effort to recognise, understand and accept other points of view mediated in art.
How to Understand Theatre is a year-long informal education project on theatre organised by Association Divadelná Nitra since 2008; 2020 marks its 18. edition. Its intended base includes high school and university students from different cities across Slovakia and the general public. How to Understand Theatre 2020 consists of four distinct sections, each targeted to a different audience by means of a diverse spectrum of activities. The project’s second section will take place at the International Theatre Festival Divadelná Nitra:
This year’s study visit participants will include students from the Theatre Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava and the Faculty of Dramatic Arts of the Academy of Arts in Banská Bystrica. They are scheduled to take part in regular meetings under the guidance of Slovak theatre scholar and critic Miroslav Ballay and discussions with theatre-makers. They will also be meeting a group of young foreign theatre critics and mentors from another project organised by the Association, V4@Theatre Critics Residency, introducing them to a different perspective on artistic production and allowing them to become familiar with current trends in contemporary theatre scholarship.
This year’s edition of How to Understand Theatre included an online debate between project participants and Martin Pšenička discussing a production at the Andrej Bagar Theatre in Nitra, The Great Notebook, organised in the spring of 2020.
Other sections of the project include How to Understand Theatre in Nitra, How to Understand Theatre – Theatre Travels, and How to Understand Theatre – Lectures and Discussions on Contemporary Theatre. The Theatre Travels section features planned visits to Pôtoň Theatre in Bátovce, the Slovak Chamber Theatre in Martin, and the Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava, as well as a tour of the Theatre Institute’s exhibition A Century of Theatre – Traces and Stances commemorating 100 years of Slovak professional theatre. Selected productions and activities in these theatres illustrate to the diversity of theatrical practice in Slovakia.