about the production
Somehow history does not suit our times. Why bother with something which is not touching us directly, why open old wounds and cause oneself pain, or even accept our ancestors’ offences and try to remedy them? History is something extremely out of date, especially at the time when future has approached us so closely that it almost merges with the present. The past has no place here. General belief, general idleness, general languor which I would very much like to oppose.
The Aréna Theatre has been rather systematically working with the committed dramaturgy for several years. Something which is not so obvious in this form and in the context of contemporary Slovak theatre. Only systematic and long-term work on the “concreteness” of this type can bring anything visible. The civic series (productions of Tiso, Husák, Communism, Kukura) is an interesting example how to achieve it. It isn‘t up to me to judge the different quality of individual productions In any case, each extreme creative activity based on topical author’s creation (direction or dramaturgy) literally asks for uncertainties, however well their author tries to eliminate them in advance. To write about courage would seem to me a cliché, because the journey any institution would thereby set on at the present time is rather a necessity. A dangerous necessity. The institution can pay with its own life for it, but, on the other hand, it gets back what is essential what is essential, something which justifies the meaningfulness of the theatre itself.
The staging of the play by Viliam Klimáček Holocaust is a thematic culmination of a whole dramaturgical series, not only because it is the latest one. While the productions of Tiso, Husák, Communism and Kukura dealt with “just” a part of our history (which, of course, includes also our present we are living today), Holocaust, in a simple notion, creates a framing arch overlapping the “period” of its primary historical interest (mid-20th century). A young woman arrives to claim restitution of her parents‘ café which was “taken” from them after the war. However, there is a snag in the situation: the café which was “taken” from her parents, had been Aryanised by them during the Second World War, which rather complicates the heiress’s restitutional claim. But, maybe, much less at the legal level than the moral one.
This only fact itself suddenly turns us, the on-lookers, into people much more deeply interested in the matter. The following questions appear: what were my parents and grandparents doing during the war, what attitude did they have when the time of monstrous crimes committed on the Jews came (but not only them), what can one intrinsically hold onto when some historical certainty related to one’s present attitudes falls down. Isn’t the present unbelievable moral deficit only a natural continuation of our ancestors‘ failure, in fact? Isn’t, then, the preference of one’s own social advantage over the pain caused by moral principles application a kind of special predetermination? But then, what can we do to finally break this almost classical predisposition of our small Slovak mentality?
The production of Holocaust directed by Rastislav Ballek does not answer these questions. But the fact itself that he, in a chosen arch with a clear and conscious overlap into our present, exposes people like Ambróz Králik to public scorn and even lets them defend their offenses standing at their own grave (while involving us all, with an ironical smile, into argumentations full of excuses downplaying any extent of guilt), is a gesture the statement power of which goes far beyond the walls of a theatrical institution. With this merciless effort to involve us all, the production becomes a cathartic experience for the intellect as well as the emotions of the viewers. It disturbs, opens the eyes, undermines self-deceit, ridicules pettiness and casts doubts on any downplaying of ancestors‘ offences. OUR ancestors!
“The production of Holocaust is a big gesture surpassing the limits of the theatre but, at the same time, remaining an authentic work of art.”
Zuzana Uličianska, SME, 13 December 2012
“As far as the topicality is concerned, the staging of the latest play by Viliam Klimáček Holocaust is not different from his previous plays, or those by other playwrights whose works have been introduced in the Arena Theatre in Bratislava in the so-called civic series. Although the majority of them are related to the period of World War II and communism (Tiso, Dr. Gustáv Husák, Communism) and are, thus, historical/documentary plays, their significance is often not in the first theatrical staging of chosen topics in our country but, to a large extent, also in the topicality of the theatrical language.”
Dagmar Inštitorisová, PRAVDA, 16 December 2012
directed by Rastislav Ballek
dramaturgy: Martin Kubran, Zuzana Šajgalíková
set and costume design: Katarína Holková
light design: Robert Polák
music co-operation: Juraj Bielik a Adrian Rajter
material for video projection: Eva Janovská
characters and cast: Ester Rozenfeldová: Zuzana Porubjaková, Róza Rozenfeldová: Dana Košická, Lili Weissová: Rebeka Poláková, Jakob Weiss:Braňo Deák, Ambróz Králik: Milan Ondrík, Anna Králiková: Kristína Greppelová, Kristína Majerová: Edita Borsová, Hana Kostolníková: Petra Vajdová, Jano Pujdes: Gregor Hološka, Rádio: Martin Hronský
violin player: Jana Černá
voice in the recording: Hilda Hrabovecká
Rastislav Ballek (1971) studied philosophy and sociology at the Philosophical Faculty of Comenius University in Bratislava, later theatre direction at the Academy of Performing Arts (VŠMU). Already during his studies, he and the dramaturgist Martin Kubran participated in a series of drama productions of “forgotten” and marginalised works of Slovak literature. He cooperated with many theatres in Slovakia (Prešov, Martin, Žilina, Zvolen, Bratislava), and the Czech Republic (The Rococo Theatre in Prague, The National Theatre in Brno). His productions received a number of awards: God’s Atoms (Boards 1998), Tiso (four Boards 2005), HOLLYROTH (two Boards 2010), Kukura (three nominations for Boards 2011). Rastislav Ballek‘s productions and theatre projects regularly attend the festival Divadelná Nitra and represent Slovak theatre art at festivals and touring shows at home and abroad. Rastislav Ballek is currently active as the dramaturgist of the Slovak National Theatre.
Video of the production: no
Script of the production: SK, EN
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