Andrej Bagar Theatre in Nitra, Nitra, SLOVAKIA
directed by: Lukáš Brutovský
Elegant upper-class costumes and the festive folk dress of Slovak patriots would have us believe the creators approached the naïve comedy and its serious, anti-chauvinistic message with piety. In fact, the opposite is true.
It is somewhat surprising but equally obvious that teamed up dramaturge-director tandem Miro Dacho and Lukáš Brutovský have opted to rehearse this classic syrupy comedy by Palárik, filled with silly confusions, whimsical costumes and brave Slovaks in a banal story with a love plot and a happy ending. Elegant upper-class costumes and the festive folk dress of Slovak patriots would have us believe the creators approached the naïve comedy and its serious, anti-chauvinistic message with piety. In fact, the opposite is true. The team from Nitra have staged Tinker without sugary folk ornament, transforming this comedy about the life of the 19th century Slovak intelligentsia in multicultural Hungary into a teasing parody and grotesque commenting on the maladies of contemporary Slovakia within the Central European region. The deftness of Nitra theatre’s actors with a perfect sense for comedy and comicality is just one element to savour – in parallel, we indulge in reflection on Slovak character and politics.
This production was co-selected by the Audience Programme Board of the BeSpectACTive! Project!
Of the trilogy of comedies penned by priest, politician and writer Ján Palárik, Tinker is doubtless the weakest. The author wrote it with a clearly political-revivalist motivation in the interest of attaining peace among the nations, which got the upper hand over a more functional dramatic plot, bearable narration or less strained, glib pathos. That is one the reasons why, unlike the author’s Incognito and Adventure at Harvest Time, productions of this script on our stages are few and far between. But this piece by director-dramaturge tandem Lukáš Brutovský and Miro Dacho proves the play has potential to deliver a message in our day and age.
Elegant upper-class costumes and the festive folk dress of Slovak patriot characters would initially have us believe the creators approached Palárik’s naïve comedy and its serious, anti-chauvinistic message with piety. In fact, the case is quite the opposite. Brutovský and Dacho rehearsed Tinker without sugary folk ornament (or if they do resort to it, then with a clear satirical intention), with enormous cuts from the original script and a clear awareness of the trivial but circuitous narrative. Their production quickly confesses to the naïveté of its expressive devices, maintains ironic detachment from the play’s characters, and largely works with a humour based on parody of what is explicitly said. Brutovský toys with the character’s typology, turns them on Palárik’s original intentions and thereby knocks them off their pedestal. His Tinker is a Slavic Tower of Babylon concoction mixing the languages of the Visegrad Four – Hungarian, Slovak, Polish and Czech. And compared to Palárik, the auteurs here chose to incorporate more German. This is why they have unrolled screen from the fly loft, informing us of our current location but especially acting as a backdrop for Slovak subtitles to foreign language lines. The latter also serve as translations for characters who are bilingually indisposed.
By virtue of current geopolitical parallels, Brutovský has made a moralizing classic into a cosmopolitan farce, but he cannot be reproached for a lack of respect for tradition. To the contrary, he has boldly attempted to resuscitate an oft-overlooked piece of family silver.
adapted and directed by: Lukáš Brutovský
dramaturgy: Miro Dacho
set design: Pavel Borák
costume design: Diana Strauszová
music: Lukáš Brutovský
cast: Ivan B. Vojtek, Andrej Remeník, Nikolett Dékány, Barbora Andrešičová, Tomáš Turek, Marián Viskup, Peter Oszlík, Martin Fratrič, Branislav Matuščin, Juraj Ďuriš
presentation at Divadelná Nitra supported by European Union – Creative Europe programme, Slovak Arts Council, Nitra Self-Governing Region, The City of Nitra, SPP Foundation, LITA — authors society
Lukáš Brutovský (1988) graduated in theatre directing and dramaturgy from the Theatre Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava. He has directed plays in numerous theatres within Slovakia and the Czech Republic (e.g., Parasite at the Andrej Bagar Theatre in Nitra, Flags in the Wind at the City Theatre Kladno, Midnight Mass at the Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava, The Misanthrope at Švandovo divadlo in Prague). Since 2015 he is director and artistic director at the Slovak Chambre Theatre in Martin, where he rehearsed a number unique productions, including D1 (working title), 2021; The Czech Comedy about the Rich Man and Lazarus, 2019; Biology Politics – Fouché!!!, 2018. He makes theatrical translations, theatre and radio plays, and produces scenic music. He is recipient of a number of awards at international university festivals for directing, 1st Place in Drama for his script At Lunch in 2009, and the Theatre News Award for his direction of Maryša, a play by the brothers Mrštík, at HaDivadlo in Brno in 2014.
‘Dramaturge Miro Dacho and director and author of adaptation Lukáš Brutovský took the liberty of altering Palárik’s original script quite extensively, first in terms of certain storylines, but especially in formal modifications. The identified the piece’s weakest points and tried either to minimize them or cast them as intentional. From an originally naïve-romantic comedy with a national-emancipatory or national–revivalist ambition, their version of Tinker is situated somewhere on the boundary of farce and satire; they dropped, simplified or deliberately overstated the unnecessary and naïve plotlines’ faults. They turned overly schematic and shallow characters (even given the genre) with occasional badly-written personality traits into purposely hyperbolic types representing stereotypes and theses. It can’t be said that these changes worked perfectly in every respect, but dramaturge Dacho and author of adaptation Brutovský certainly helped Brutovský the director.’ (Miroslav Zwiefelhofer, Monitoring divadiel na Slovensku, 7 September 2019)