Slovak Performing Arts
In recent decades, Slovak theatre has undergone dynamic changes. Our network of subsidized theatres and established entities from the non-subsidised sphere has been supplemented by new artistic bodies and active individual artists. In addition to the classical genres of drama, music, dance and puppet theatre, the base of contemporary dance and performance artists is expanding rapidly. A vigorous interspecies dialogue is taking place. Directors, choreographers, set designers, stage musicians, actors, singers, and dancers, among others, fluctuate between brick-and-mortar and independent theatres, as well as between drama, puppet theatre, opera, and contemporary dance. In addition, the work of younger artists is also increasingly reaching the stage, bringing several generations together. It is clear that the (still young) medium of theatre in Slovakia has enough original and creative individuals, audiences, and potential creators.
Particular evaluations and reflections of this period of theatre history will only be possible later. What needs to be considered now is how to record the present as well as how to report about it to contemporaries in both domestic and foreign contexts. Finding ways of documenting theatre art and making it accessible is also one of the main priorities of the Slovak Theatre Institute. In addition to systematically collecting information about theatre in Slovakia, we are also working to create a comprehensive picture of the performing arts. The collected knowledge is intended not only to serve professionals but also to be accessible to the general public. This principle is also reflected in the research project entitled Slovenské scénické umenie/Slovak Performing Arts, which aims to offer a unique testimony of contemporary theatre.
The project entitled Slovenské scénické umenie/Slovak Performing Arts not only merges two previous projects – Contemporary Slovak Directors and 10 Slovak Dance Artists – but also constitutes a separate, independent whole. The project’s new website performingarts.theatre.sk introduces the profiles and overview of selected personalities – directors and choreographers who are currently actively shaping the poetics and aesthetics of Slovak theatre. At present, the selection includes thirty directors and twenty choreographers or contemporary dance artists. Artists from multiple generations, who are represented in the project, are among the most recognized and awarded personalities in professional and critical circles. They are the favourite artistic personalities with festival curators in Slovakia as well as abroad. In a way, they are (some of) the people who are strongly influencing the identity of the Slovak theatre scene today.
The making of such a profile collection has several intentions. The essential aim is to create a comprehensive overview that will highlight the originality, specificity, and breadth of the poetics adopted by Slovak theatre artists. The catalogue also provides some basic information about recognized artistic personalities in Slovak theatre, their inclinations towards certain themes, periods, genre and style preferences, and offers an insight into dominant trends. Last but not least, the Slovenské scénické umenie/Slovak Performing Arts project is designed to provide an opportunity to create a broader picture of the creative practice of Slovak artists, as well as of the forms of contemporary theatre in Slovakia, using just a small sample of artists and their works. These intentions have given rise to the whole concept and defined the composition of the individual profiles. An extensive textual medallion including the description of the individual artwork is always accompanied by an inventory of works and an art sample – visual and audio-visual material (e.g., photographs and clips of selected productions).
The main ambition – to create and communicate the catalogue as a “record of the times” – is complemented by another important element. The profiles also list the main features of the present works, parts of the manuscript and illustrative examples. As a result, they serve as small artist portfolios. The bilingual name of the project implies that all content will be published in both Slovak and English. One of the aims of the Theatre Institute is to spread awareness of contemporary Slovak theatre abroad. The profile collection will enable the work of various personalities and Slovak theatre in general to be presented simply and in different languages. In an ideal scenario, the descriptions could become one of the impulses for establishing cross-border cooperation and enabling successful performances of our artists abroad.
The profiles of the artistic creators are just a small sample of the rich world on the stages of Slovak professional theatres.* The fifty profiles that the project currently contains are only the first, basic selection. However, this number is not definitive. The aim of the Theatre Institute is to gradually expand the collection, updating it with the more recognized personalities as well as with representatives of the emerging generation who are distinctive for their directorial-dramaturgical, choreographic, movement-based, or visual language of creation. The project’s initial focus on directing and choreography is not accidental. These are the professions that most often stand at the top of the hierarchy of artistic creation in their respective art forms. However, the project’s long-term plan includes expanding to other, equally important professions – dramaturgy, costume design, stage design, and others.
The website of the Slovenské scénické umenie/Slovak Performing Arts project will be similar to a tiny, easily accessible encyclopaedia of contemporary theatre personalities. It will provide basic information about selected personalities and their work, give an overview of the world of theatre, paint a picture of contemporary theatre in Slovakia based on a diverse sample, and present the artistic work of theatre-makers abroad. In addition to all this, perhaps, it will also whet the appetite to venture into Slovak theatres in search of new theatrical experiences.
* Detailed information about the creators and productions presented in Slovak professional theatres can be obtained in the comprehensive online information database etheatre.sk. The database serves as an electronic information archive of the production output of professional theatres in Slovakia.