Slovak National Theatre – Drama, Bratislava, 2012
Author: Anna Jablonská
Directed by Marián Amsler
about the production
“A seemingly trivial story of a chronically non-functional family has been interlaid by the playwright and publicist Anna Yablonskaya with an integrated contemplation about faith and everything that is hiding or transvesting behind it nowadays. In the end, and above all, it gives the impression of a statement by an atheist, or at least a deep sceptic, since everything spiritual is attached to some material, if not almost vulgar reasons at each depicted level. However, there is no haughty full stop at the end but a humble question mark and perhaps also hope that man, in all his pettiness and with all his limits, will still get another chance from life or God occasionally – let’s say even in the form of a miracle.
This play staged in the Studio of the Slovak National Theatre by two visual artists Martin Kotúček and Juraj Kuchárek on a vivid and cleverly thought-out scene is also linked to a genuine, powerful, and touching story. The twenty-nine-year-old Yablonskaya was killed in January last year during the terrorist attack on the Moscow airport when she came to receive the award for this play. It is not a coincidence that one of the main roles is acted by Zuzana Fialová, who might have been just a few metres away from Yablonskaya during the incident.”
Lucia Javůrková, Pravda, March 2012
“The demons are ruling the world and therefore The Pagans are the latest play by the young playwright. Before she died, however, she had managed to give a disturbing picture of the world in her play. The staging by the director Marián Amsler did not make it look less harsh. He worked sensitively with the poetry as well as the disgust, shock or even the provocation. In some scenes there is someone redundant – is it the devil or an evil spirit? It would be rather kitschy to materialise the demons into some kind of crusaders or wizards but it fi into the effort to uplift the staging above the level of TV realism.
The first part is a naturalistic view into a household which unexpectedly accrues a grandmother who, until then, had been living in monasteries. In her young days she relinquished her son’s upbringing to grandparents. She thought it was more important to pray for him intensely. Her daughter in law Marína, once again, considers keeping the household the most important thing. She keeps repeating that she is has no support from anybody. Her inactive husband is only waiting for his once-in-a- life-time chance in art but does not understand that he has no talent for it any more. The outwardly arrogant daughter longs for love and understanding...
The stage is set functionally to a maximum and enables the change of space even in the limited area of the Studio. The costumes may be a little too expressive than was necessary. The music by Slavomir Solovic is overpowering, as if in films, and is thus the main agent in the change of moods. The Pagans are a staging with a valiant artistic and life philosophy that necessarily evokes emotions. The authors have opened too many Pandora’s boxes for us to leave the performance with a pleasant feeling that the world is such as it should be. Maybe the perfect taming of evil spirits would have required more experience, but the task of the theatre to cast doubts on everything we don’t really believe in was met.”
Zuzana Uličianska, SME, March 2012
“The play reminds us more of a film script than a classically built up drama piece. Also the director Marián Amsler makes use of certain elements of film narration when he builds up the story in two different parts, or applies different visually impressive scenes during the show which excellently supplement and underline the story. The encounter of faith, atheism and pagantry, or belief in money and power of art, endless waiting for a miracle that might never happen, these are just a few topics that this excellently written play absorbs and makes use of. The theatre is not a competition and thus there is no talk about who is better. The hysterical, desperate mother played by Zuzana Fialová, as well as the impractical dreamer Marián Geišberg in the part of Oleg attract an equal attention. The part of a pious grandmother almost perfectly fitted Božidara Turzonovová. Neither Nikolay played by František Kovár or Peter Trník as callous Sergey disappoint the viewer. Merit is also due to the student of the Academy of Performing Arts Alexandra Palatinusová whose emotionally disturbed Christine was a hard nut indeed.”
Andrijan Turan, Slovenka, April 2012
directed by Marián Amsler
translation: Eva Maliti-Fraňová
dramaturgy: Romana Maliti
set and costume design: Martin Kotúček, Juraj Kuchárek
music: Slavo Solovic
characters and cast: Marina: Zuzana Fialová; Oleg: Marián Geišberg; Kristina: Alexandra Palatínusová; Natalya: Božidara Turzonovová; Nikolai: František Kovár; Father Vladimír, Sergei, Doctor: Ľuboš Kostelný, Peter Trník
Marián Amsler (1979) graduated from theatre dramaturgy and direction at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava. As a director he specialises in introducing contemporary world but also Czech and Slovak plays (O. Muchinová, V. Sigarev, F. Richtr, D. Gieselmann, P. Nagy, M. Hvorecký, V. Klimáček, E. Maliti-Fraňová, D. Drábek, etc.).
He is a co-founder and director of the Prague theatre Letí. As a director he was hosted by many Czech and Slovak playhouses (The Slovak National Theatre, Dejvice Theatre in Prague, The Drama Studio in Ústí nad Labem, The National Theatre in Brno – Redoute, Petr Bezruč Theatre in Ostrava, Andrej Bagar Theatre in Nitra, The West Bohemian Theatre in Cheb, etc.). He was twice awarded the prestigious Slovak prize The Boards for the production of Chekhov plays Platonov and Ivanov in the category of The Newcomer of the Season.