about the production
Martin Čičvák’s play was staged in the Aréna Theatre by Rastislav Ballek. Without hesitation one can say that these two authors are the most progressive and distinctive personalities of the present day Slovak theatre. Both are predominantly active in the Aréna Theatre, but also work in the Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava. Along with the dramaturgist Martin Kubran they belong to the middle generation of valiant theatre artists whose programme is to educate the Slovak audience.
They make us think in a complicated way, in a theatrical fashion, bring very topical and controversial themes and with their stage philosophy do not lag behind other, theatrically more advanced countries of Europe. Unless you are a theatre know-nothing and have at least a kind of cultural awareness and overview, the production Kukura literally engulfs you: words, words, words, a gust of words that sweeps over you from the stage in an unstoppable speed from the mouths of the charismatic actors Hronský, Bárta, Prevendarčík, Milič and Oľhová, opening further and further images and metaphors... The first rate text, direction and intensive actors‘ discourse does not need to be minutely analysed, their message is clear from the first moment of the show – you are about to break the TV set, read every book in your book-case, visit every world famous art gallery and theatre and, mainly, never again sit at home on your bottom and let yourself be fed with the cheap TV crap. Might this be true! If only the theatre still possessed the mythical power to uplift and cultivate the society. Maybe the lobotomy caused by the excessive commercialisation of the public space is irreversible. The staging of Kukura is a distinctive act of defiance. While other theatres silently contemplate, or even slowly resign on their role, in Aréna they tried to name the problem openly and sharply. If only the Aréna Theatre remained an epicentre of similar gusts of fury over the current state of the theatre, mocking in a Bernhardt way the national mentality, scolding, like Handke, not only the audience but also the artists, because this is the only way how to point out, effectively and explicitly, the state of culture as such. To be sure, the nation’s culture reflects the state of society.
“However, with the replicas of a four-headed Kukura the play also presents a bill to several generations of the local ´cultural elite´. It deals with those who were once not able to overcome the limits of the frame drawn around them by the times and, thus, today are just a spiteful memento of their own unfulfilled dreams. But, equally, it attacks those who could step out of the frame today but somehow find it difficult, as long as that frame is sufficient to provide them with a decent income and a social status.”
Lucie Javůrková, Pravda, May 2011
“Cruel, merciless and unscrupulous is this play to actors who seem to personalise and symbolise, regardless of a certain degree of caricature, the present state of affairs in culture and cultural awareness of this nation. In other words, a state of affairs that can be quite precisely described by the aphorism of Pavol Janík: ´Cultural industry. A sense of non-sense.´ It is targeted mainly at the so-called ´television culture of afternoon series broadcast in the prime time´, but also ´actors of national theatres who tell jokes in the television broadcasting prime time´ and ´play theatre because they need the social status, stay in the theatre just because of this social status, however, hate the theatre just as they hate themselves in the theatre.´ Neither the viewers are spared, who, basically, have no relationship to the theatre, are indifferent to it, but visit it just to see the actors they know from the series broadcast in the broadcasting prime time.”
Milan Polák, Literary Weekly 23, 24/2011
“Nothing has changed in this country in the past fifty years, they say. It does not matter at all what you do, everything will be all right in the end. Artistic prostitution is awarded prestigious prizes. Tabloid media are legalised as the highest state culture. The similarity between the figure of Kukura and the well known actor is surely just a coincidence – otherwise one could take this text as an act of settling very old unsettled bills. It is, undoubtedly, another step towards the build up of a Kukura legend, luckily, this time disputing it, whereby Kukura, as the theatre director, definitely had to show a certain degree of detachment.
The first night itself was a theatre happening. Directors of commercial TV companies came to hear how afternoon series broadcast in the prime time spoil the nation’s taste. The Minister of Culture heard about the pan-national cultural disaster. Alexander Bárta as one of the Kukuras spoke about actors who stay in national theatres only to keep a certain social status.”
Zuzana Uličianska, SME, May 2011
directed by Rastislav Ballek
dramaturgy: Martin Kubran
staging assistance: Martin Čičvák
set design: Hans Hoffer
costumes: Marija Havran
design and realization of a puppet: Ivan Martinka
masks: Juraj Steiner
characters and cast: Kukura: Alexander Bárta, Martin Hronský, Marián Prevendarčík, Radomir Milić; Čičvák: Juraj Hrčka; She, Mother: Jana Oľhová; animators of the puppet: Miriam Pavelková, Radomir Milić
Rastislav Ballek (1971) studied philosophy and sociology at the Arts Faculty of Comenius University in Bratislava, later theatre direction and dramaturgy at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava and the State Drama School in Cracow. Already during his studies, he and the dramaturgist Martin Kubran did a number of unconventional projects – productions inspired by controversial, rejected or simply forgotten home literary texts. It was The Odd Fish by Vajanský, Departure from Bratislava (both at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava), Vajanský‘s Desolate Flower, The Atoms of God based on the novel by Gejza Vámoš and In the World Without God based on the tale by Kristína Royová. He co-operated with many playhouses in Slovakia (Prešov, Martin, Žilina, Zvolen, Bratislava). In the Czech Republic he worked with the Prague Rococo Theatre and the National Theatre in Brno. His productions or people who participated in their creation were awarded a number of prestigious prizes of the Boards: The Atoms of God (1998), Tiso (2005), HOLLYROTH (2010). The productions and theatre projects by Rastislav Ballek are regularly presented at the Divadelná Nitra festival and represent the Slovak theatre at festivals and touring shows abroad.
Script of the production: SK
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