Balkan Art Scene
'Slovensko Mladinsko Gledališče' Premiered The First Slovenian Performance by Bojana Lazić
The first Slovenian performance by theatre and radio director Bojana Lazić for Slovensko mladinsko gledališče is divided into two parts. The first part consists of a theatrical staging of the most extensively preserved section of Petronius’s Satyricon, Trimalchio’s Dinner (Cena Trimalchionis), one of two partially preserved “Roman novels” written in the 1st century AD, during the reign of Emperor Nero – who was a possible inspiration for Trimalchio. The actors step on to the stage, put down their jackets and shoes, sit down in front of musical instruments – drumkit, guitar, synthesizer, saxophone, accordion – and start to play. The freed slave Trimalchio (Ivan Godnič) is enjoying his new role on the social ladder and the power brought to him by money gained by the deep devotion to the ex-master and dirty business deals. During a lavish encounter, his slaves play in a band for him and his wife Fortunata (Romana Šalehar). They must obey their every command and applaud his every performance if they do not want to end up being thrown to the tiger.
Photo: Ivian Kan Mujezinović Then, during the climax of this scene of wantonness, in which Trimalchio forces his own wife to sing and ring a bell around her neck, a break in the theatrical illusion occurs. One of the actors expresses doubts about the suitability of using the Slovenian folk song “On the Mountains, the Sun Shines” (Na planincah sončece sije). We are no longer in Rome, instead we find ourselves at the last rehearsal before the premiere. Instead of the characters of the ancient Romans, the performers assume more or less typical personifications of the actors of today. The cast is also joined by the play’s “director” (Daša Doberšek), who has been sitting among the audience until this moment. The seemingly innocent event of questioning the director’s decision grows into an act of rebellion and the stage becomes a playground for revealing the relationships between the creative team and showing how manipulation can be a modus operandi when you no longer have tigers to feed.
Photo: Ivian Kan Mujezinović
The two parts of the performance are connected by a conceptually complete design by Zorana Petrov. It resembles an updated version of an aristocratic apartment and at the same time it is a (humorous) reference to “minimalistic modern” scenography. It is easy to recognize the parallel narratives of the hierarchical relations in Trimalchio’s dinner and the theatrical process. The second part is even inspired by the first in terms of dramaturgy and the sequence of events. Both “masters” have to go to the toilet, during which time the others take advantage of their absence for partying, dancing and “mating” with each other.
Trimalchio’s Dinner. Photo: Ivian Kan Mujezinović
Further reading: review of Ziga Divjak’s Fever at Slovensko mladinsko gledališče