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International tours of the SNT Drama Ljubljana

During recent theatre seasons the most notable international tours by the SNT Drama Ljubljana in terms of geographic distance included those to festivals in South Korea, Colombia, Mexico, France, Spain, Russia, Belarus, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, North Macedonia, Montenegro, as well as China, Finland, Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. The Drama also toured frequently in theatres in Austria, Germany, Italy, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. A dozen of performances, produced or co-produced by the Drama, diverse in terms of genre and performative styles, were enjoyed and appreciated by more than ten thousand viewers in dozens of theatre venues. Many of our tours made a strong impact and left an enduring mark in the collective memory as ground-breaking connections between Slovenian and world theatre art.

In 2019, the SNT Drama Ljubljana performances were presented thirty-one times on festival and playhouse stages outside Slovenia. One of our major touring successes in the 2019/20 season resonated strongly at the 53rd Belgrade International Theatre Festival (Bitef) in Belgrade, Serbia, featuring our production of Ali: Fear Eats Your Soul. In September 2019, it made history as a remarkable triumph, being the first Slovenian and one of the very few foreign productions of the festival competition program winning the Grand Prix for best production, the Award for best direction and the Audience Award for best production. Encouraged by these accolades and international acclaim, we boldly envisaged a highly visible and dynamic international presence in 2020 as well. 

However, due to the emergence and global spread of the coronavirus pandemic, the Drama Ljubljana, just like other theatres and cultural institutions, had to suspend its ambitious touring plans. In 2020, we managed to complete only one tour outside our national borders. The Little Wire Girl, a contemporary drama-opera, directed by Marjan Nečak, was presented in Trieste, Italy. In spring, summer and autumn months 2020, more than thirty noteworthy tours abroad, meticulously planned long in advance, had to be cancelled or postponed due to the pandemic. To name just a few: Ali: Fear Eats Your Soul after Fassbinder’s film Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, directed by Sebastijan Horvat, should have been presented at the International Theatre Festival Kontakt in Poland, the International Small Scene Festival Rijeka in Croatia, the Mittelfest in Italy at the MIT Fest in Montenegro, and at the festive 10th International Theatre Forum Teart in Belarus. The original project Conversations about Love, an international co-production directed by Jernej Lorenci and performed by the SNT Drama Ljubljana and the Royal Theatre Zetski dom in Cetinje, Montenegro did not open in Italy and Albania and did not showcase at the Theatre at the Crossroads festival in Niš, Serbia. Many European tours of Neverland, an international co-production by the Thalia Theatre in Hamburg, based on Peter Pan by James Matthew Barrie and directed by Antú Romero Nunes, which included the Drama as well, were cancelled. Salome, a poetic play by Oscar Wilde, directed by Eduard Miler, should have been presented in the Belarusian capital Minsk on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Yanka Kupala National Academic Theatre. Goethe’s play Faust, a co-production of the Drama and Festival Ljubljana, directed by Tomaž Pandur, should have toured the globe again in 2020: a tour of the Mexican cities of Ciudad de México, Monterrey and Guadalajara would have been followed by a journey to China and featured at the world-famous Guanghe Opera. In November, the Faust team would have concluded their world tour with a performance in Tel Aviv at the Once 2020 International Festival, hosted by the famous Israeli Habima Theatre. A co-production of Homer’s The Iliad had been invited to China, and several reruns were planned to be presented in the ten-million city of Hangzhou, the centre of Zhejiang Province in the far East of this vast country. We also planned a double tour at the Bitef with Duncan Macmillan’s Lungs directed by Žiga Divjak, and a scientific cabaret 2020 based on texts by Yuval Noah Harari directed by Ivica Buljan, our co-production with the City Theatre of Ljubljana and Cankarjev dom. During the period when the second wave of the pandemic was rampant all over Europe, we should have participated at the 3rd International Theatre Festival in Kielce, Poland with The Little Wire Girl by Marjan Nečak and Maja Hrgović, directed by Marjan Nečak.

Several other tours to Austria, Italy, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Serbia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Ukraine have been unfortunately put on hold and suspended in anticipation of more “travel-friendly” times. 

However, we believe that every bleak and uncertain period begins to brighten up at some point, and the art of theatre always finds its way to the audience. Our production of The Little Wire Girl was presented online in February 2021, in Milan as part of the 12th edition of the International Prize »Il teatro Nudo« (»The Naked Theatre«) Teresa Pomodoro which will take place throughout the 2020/21 season, organized jointly by the Spazio Teatro No’hma Teresa Pomodoro and the city of Milan, held under the honorary patronage of the President of the Italian Republic and with the support of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. The slow easing of the epidemiological situation in Slovenia and Italy has not yet made it possible for the Drama to travel to Italy and perform in front of an audience in Milan’s No’hma Hall, so the production was live streamed from our Main Stage to the audience and the jury consisting of prominent theatre makers from all over the world. We have similar agreements with some other European and world festivals which we were not able to attend in the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons due to the pandemic. In March, we presented the co-production Conversations about Love on the virtual platform ADNICH – Adriatic-Ionian Theatre Festival on Intangible Heritage. At the end of May, the 25th International Theatre Festival Contact hosted the online premiere of a documentary film What Happened to Ali?, which we made about the production Ali: Fear Eats Your Soul in collaboration with Tone Stojko. The transition between the 2020/21 and 2021/22 seasons is marked by the touring of The Little Wire Girl in the competition programme of the 22nd International Chamber Theatre Festival Golden Lion in Umag, Croatia (June) and the 3rd International Theatre Festival in Kielce (September), My Husband at the 30th Mittelfest 2021 in Cividale, Italy (August) and Lungs at the 54th Bitef in Belgrade, Serbia (September). Maintaining and nurturing relationships with many foreign theatres and international theatre festivals, we are working ceaselessly to provide opportunities, so we can reignite the spark of tours and bring our productions around the globe, as well as host performances by foreign theatres at the Drama and the Drama Festival

Travelling – metaphorical and actual – has been one of the fundamental missions of great theatre art. It remains a vital essence of the ritual inherent in the exchange of emotional energy emanating from the stage to the auditorium, and back.