Slovak National Theatre – Drama Bratislava, 2015
Author: Viliam Klimáček
Directed by Rastislav Ballek
about the production
In relation to the audience the work by the director Rastislav Ballek is uncompromising. He trusts the willingness and ability of the audience to think and associate his or her own themes. Ballek is a director who is untiring in searching for forgotten texts in Slovak literature, dust covered historical events, controversial, lost or underestimated leaders of the Slovak past. All masters to which he willingly reaches carry the signs of uninteresting, non-dramatical and impossible-to-stage material. Ballek experiments in communication with the audience through expressionism of acting and a new theatrical expression, by mixing and combining the used means. He is director – thinker, philosopher capable of interpreting local themes within the wide context of European thought.
In his Mojmír II or the Twilight of an Empire, Ballek together with playwright Viliam Klimáček, managed to present a topic that shall resonate not only in Slovakia, but across Europe for the decades to come. They open a conflict between the Western and Eastern thought and culture on the canvass of historical events and leaders in Slovak history. “The East lives for the future, the West for the present day. The East likes to dream, the West prefers to act. The East feels, the West thinks. My progeny will forget in time that we threw out the pupils of Methodius. They might be even glad, who knows. For they would be writing in the Cyrillic and be where our Eastern neighbours are...”, King Sventopluk tells the Count Rastislav in one of the brisk dialogue. He thus unveils the neuralgic points of our existence. The legacy of the conflict between Western rationalism and Eastern emotionalism, marginalisation of religion and the spiritual and the concurrent crisis of Western culture is reflected in the character of Mojmír II, who is our contemporary in the production, and historically he is the son of Sventopluk and the last ruler of Great Moravia. Mojmír just “wanders” somewhere in space with feeling an outcast, uprooted, without ground and de- sire (arising from insecurity and chaos) to rule and take on responsibility for himself and his country.
The character of Mojmír as an emigrant who phones his fa- their Sventopluk from London to share with him his doubts about his existence (bearing in mind the currency of the un- ending waves of immigrants) offers many of us an opportunity to see a connection with the leitmotif of the Divadelná Nitra Festival: Empathy – Sharing and Giving. Yet that would be too simple in this case. Ballek forces us to think in a number of layers. The theme of empathy as an ability to associate with the mentality, attitudes and emotions of an individual or a group is merely latently present here. Yet we cannot prevent ourselves thinking about ourselves and our relationship to our culture, globalisation, religiosity, the differences between cultures and the unrest arising from them. In the sequence of association, we stop by art, theatre of the West and East, by the search for aesthetics and expression, the discourse about pragmatism, precision and gesture on one hand, and emotions, rituals and ceremony on the other hand.
Iveta Ditte Jurčová, Michal Ditte
“Two generation, two directions in the world. Not arms, but words sound in the dialogue between Rastic and Sventopluk. It is the encounter between two philosophies, two life principles, the East and the West. The contradict each other in view about what bears a greater value: Sventopluk rules with a sword, Rastic with a word. The latter turns to the spiritual East, to the roots. Sventopluk turns to the progressive West. Their historically tuned dialogue places in an abstract space is among the highlights of the production in part because of the currency of the theme that remains present here in different historical contexts, and in part because of the acting mastery by Emil Horváth and Robert Roth
A construction of a horse head is part of the stage. It hangs above us as a multiple symbol: glory, nobleness, victory, as well as foreboding of death or a cage in which we are imprisoned under the pressure of anticipation. Interpretations may vary. The character of Mojmír II is the image of contemporary generation. HE is ever-present somewhere in Sventopluk’s mind, the thought of the son keeps moving in the background. Similarly, the son, though far away, is unable to cut his ties with the family at home. The play is called Mojmír II or The Twighlight of an Empire. Even though Sventopluk is the core character, the tile of the play points out far ahead what is about to come after him and his son. It is a statement about what happened to an empire that used to be called Magna Moravia, to which we proudly subscribe today, though we have actually nothing left of it. Not the bones of the kings, not the alphabet, not the speech. And the territory that is tine, like an ink spot in a notebook. What then constitutes our nation? Who makes it when the new generation keeps leaving abroad? That is the key theme to Viliam Klimáček and the point to director Rastislav Ballek. The empire is in the hands of the young Mojmír who is more attracted by London portrayed through a miniature telephone booth from where he phones his father. Yet he never manages to lose the label of a barbarian who is desperately trying to make home abroad. Hence he returns home to ‘reign’...”
Where is our empire? Who protects it? (Dária Fojtíková – Fehérová, Denník N)
directed by Rastislav Ballek
dramaturgy: Peter Kováč
set design: Juraj Poliak
costumes: Katarína Holková
music: Andrej Kalinka,
the music was recorded by Pressburg Singers under the direction of Janky Rychlej
puppets: Ivan Martinka
charactesr and cast: Rastic: Robert Roth, Sventopulk: Emil Horváth, Mojmír: Daniel Fischer, Runa: Dominika Kavaschová, Metod: puppet tel by Ivan Martinka
Rastislav Ballek (1971) studied philosophy and sociology at the Faculty of Philosophy of the Comenius University in Bratislava, and later theatre directing at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava. It was already during his studies that he participated, together with dramaturge Martin Kubran, in a series of theatre production of marginalised pieces in Slovak literature. He worked with a number of theatres in Slovakia and the productions received numerous awards: The Atoms of God (1998 Dosky Award), Tiso (four 2005 Dosky Award), HOLLYROTH (two 2010 Dosky Award), Kukura (three nominations for 2011 Dosky Award), Holocaust (special award by the jury at the 2013 New Drama festival). In 2013 he directed Water Lilies, an original play by David Drábek (the Alfréd Radok Prize for the text). He also works with the Rococo Theatre in Prague and the National Theatre in Brno where, over the recent years, he produced Ibsen’s Nora in adaptation for two actors (2013) and Shakespeare’s Othello (2014). At the Jiří Myron Theatre in Ostrava he produced Macbeth (2014). Ballek’s productions and theatre projects are regular guests at the Divadelná Nitra Festival and at a number of local and international festivals.
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