Dead Souls (pictures of the New World)

SkRAT  Theatre, Bratislava, 2010
Author: Dušan Vicen
Directed by Dušan Vicen

about the production

In recent years the productions of the SkRAT Theatre have been considered one of the best in Slovak dramatic art. Authenticity, humour and fragmentary yet unbroken reflection of common reality of common people and reality of artists creating in difficult circumstances are typical for SkRAT’s productions. In Dead Souls the producers shift the poetics further and create some, for Slovak environment unusual type of non-verbal physical theatre. They make us, the audience, voyeurs. They make us to peep into the traumatising semi-dark rooms, cuts of block of flat’s apartments, and watch anonymous, but concrete in conduct, characters – images of ourselves. In fact, they/we are dead souls – some monotonous machines which repeat deep-rooted rituals as some mantra, rituals which should make them/us a bit closer to the earlier hopes and life plans. This all is happening in the traumatising space full of raked stages, in the half-lit room with screening showing the fragments of the video-film and the shade animation.

Dead Souls are also a sound collage made of excerpts of music, noises, bangs, sights, whispers, electronic beats, which totally intensify the disturbing atmosphere of the uneven world – quite an exact scenic metaphor. The structure of Dead Souls moves somewhere in timelessness – parallel scenes, some life outside the time, perhaps in a memory or desire and, at the same time, thanks to the stage reality, here and now.

Dead Souls are – as Gilles Lipovetsky said – “the intimacy like a show”. The characters are in fact narcissuses who show the most intimate corners of their bodies and souls and we watch it, perhaps in order to admit that we are one of them. We do not see how they enter and leave, they appear in front of us like their own ghosts, like well functioning objects reduced to their corporeality.

Dead Souls are also a socio-critical theatre, a record of today, of the life of the generation who experienced the change of regimes and who had to define itself in the new social circumstances. The neo-liberal society focusing on profit structures society and changes people into machines to operate. According to Lipovetsky, in “the social wasteland there is possible to live only when the centre of interest will be one’s own self”. And Dead Souls are some modern wasteland where one’s own self becomes an empty mirror, a timeless and shapeless structure.
Martina Vannayová

“The appeal sounds: let us keep in discussion, listen to each other and give us the opportunity to express the defence – of our own views and options, through our medium, which is theatre. It is obvious that independent theatres such as the SkRAT, which hardly receive even a small amount of the financial support of the state, city or institutions, need such a dialogue the more than every one else.”
Joseph Berlinger, catalogue to the Donumenta Festival, Regensburg 2009


concept & direction: Dušan Vicen
co-authors, cast: Vít Bednárik, Ľubo Burgr, Lucia Fričová, Dana Gudabová, Inge Hrubaničová, Milan Chalmovský, Vlado Zboroň
light design, music mix: Ladislav Mirvald, Šimon Pan
A fragments from video-film Petržalka after Midnight by Oľga Paštéková and some shadow animations by Daniela Krajčová are used in the production.


Dušan Vicen (1966) is one of the most distinctive personalities of contemporary experimental theatre in Slovakia. He studied at the Faculty of Pedagogy of Matej Bel University in Banska Bystrica and theatre directing at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava. He founded the Ka Divadlo theatre in the town of Tvrdošin, acted in the group called Kde bolo tam bolo (Once Upon a Time) in the town of Oravska Polhora, he collaborated with the Trnava theatre called Disk. Today he is a member of the SkRAT Theatre for which he wrote and directed productions such as The Genial Epoch According to Schulz – direction, author; Dead Souls –direction; Not Too Much, but Well... – direction, theme, script; Sarcophaguses and Cash-points– author; Die, Perish and Peg out...!!! – directing, author. He published a collection of short stories entitled Homo Yoga which received the Ivan Krasko Prize. He is an author of radio plays, he received the Slovak Radio Prize in the Drama2008 competition. He is a two-time winner of the Alfred Radok Prize for the best Czech and Slovak dramatic text (2002 – 1st place: ...stroke the dog...; 2004 – 3rd place: Siluet in B Minor).