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SLOGI and Drama

Productions of Smole’s Antigone in the course of time

SLOGI and Drama is a new series of lectures and talks, given by the Slovenian Theatre Institute (SLOGI) specialists with the aim to put the currents productions of the SNT Drama Ljubljana in the 2023/24 season in a broader historical, artistic and social context before they actually open. The events will offer an exclusive insight into the collections of the SLOGI – Theatre Museum and will encourage the audience to reflect on the themes and questions raised by the selected plays, their critical reception and performance history before they see the respective productions.

In the inaugural lecture, Matic Kocijančič, curator and head of the SLOGI archive collection, will present a critical reception of productions of the celebrated play Antigone by Dominik Smole and a precious collection of photographs, draughts and publications held by the SLOGI Iconotheque, library and archive. Directed by Franci Križaj, Smole’s Antigone was first staged in 1960 by the Oder 57 company. This was followed by ten productions in professional theatres. The upcoming production, directed by Janez Pipan, marks its return to the SNT Drama after more than three decades.

When staging this play, one of the most intriguing dimensions is the dynamics of its relation to Sophocles’ eponymous tragedy, staged in Slovenia only twice since the end of the Second World War until 2011, both times in Celje. The main reason for the strange absence of Sophocles’ masterpiece in Slovenian professional theatres was probably immense popularity of Smole’s Antigone, staged eight times during this period. Furthermore, Sophocles was further side-lined by the (sporadic) stagings of other modern Antigones (by Dušan Jovanović, Miro Gavran, Janusz Głowacki respectively).

The last decade, however, has been marked by a revived interest in Sophocles’ version: four professional productions in six years have equalled the number of previous productions in almost a century. At the same time, one can detect a decline of interest in the staging of Smole’s Antigone which was staged only twice in the thirty-year period between Slovenian independence and the last theatre season. This year, however, it has made a triumphant comeback, premiering in two professional theatres: in addition to Pipan’s production at the Drama, it was directed by Luka Marcen at the SNT Nova Gorica. Has the dynamic of staging displacement between Smole and Sophocles finally struck a balance? Are the Greek Antigone and her Slovenian namesake competitors or allies? Are they (polemical) interlocutors or merely estranged fellow travellers?

Matic Kocijančič

On schedule