about the production
One could hardly detach the productions of this kind from the person of the director, author, legend and guru – Blaho Uhlár. Of course, it would not be just to claim that Stoka equals Blaho Uhlár only, but – for the benefit of the less informed – the staging of Uncertain Ground is a production of the S.T.O.K.A. Association. Five full stops that separate us from the legend and provoke many questions. This is something amazing.
Blaho Uhlár is a personality like no other in our context and that is something one must mention without any effort to make any judgements of this fact. The significance of his attitudes and the link between his life style, or rather a style of existence, with the essence of his own artistic work is exceptional, extreme and for many less bold people difficult to accept. Blaho Uhlár is a “myth” who, if he had to judge himself, would not avoid a sarcastic sneer and naturalistic flagellation, just to point out the bottom that, for many years now, he has been trying to lift himself from. Whether it is an outcome of his extreme attitudes is quite irrelevant. His input into alternative culture based on the demonstrative refusal of everything official cannot be overlooked. If we, for a while, forget our mental pettiness, it must procure our absolute admiration. I would even say “objective” admiration.
The project Uncertain Ground, (which I intentionally won’t call staging – somehow this theatrological vocabulary cannot be equalled with anything associated with Blaho Uhlár) relatively clearly refers to his strange martyr’s video staging entitled Attempt (2012), which provoked an explosion of contradictory responses. I am also going to give up another cliché and WON’T say that this is exactly the evidence of the staging’s significance, especially, because I, myself, don’t believe it. What I won’t give up, however, is the feeling that Blaho Uhlár is about to find a new way, he whets his appetite for it and has identified new colleagues – professionals. In the Attempt he could still ridicule them, play down their attempt for actor’s profesionality – they were only students of puppet acting. In Uncertain Ground he suddenly gives them space. Them, not only himself. He has purged himself from the existential necessity to link himself with the effort for a statement and re-invents a way how to make a statement through other people. He puts himself into the hands of a new quality that is exceeding him and thus the statement by two young people with their own topics can be linked with an “Uhlár” statement where suicidal connotations (Jack London, the Hungarian “suicidal” song Szomorú vasárnap) are grotesquely put together in contrast to commonplace “students” trivialities. Thus Uhlár invents a form, an extension that quite naturally brings his all-life artistic concept to a completely new quality. It is no longer an extracted civilism disguised in cruel, merciless and concrete truth spit onto the face of our conformism, but rather a new aesthetic quality which is probably just being born.
The aggression of a personal attack against deadly officiality thus becomes an artistic gesture, an act of handing the form and the idea over into someone else’s hands. THIS exactly is quite a clear sign of the fact that the seeming resignation still hides a lot of unspoken and unshaped quality waiting for the trust and respect of quite a different generation. Such that is not sentimentally affected either by the past of this country or everything the “aura” of Blaho Uhlár represents.
The Uncertain Ground has born a director for me who might also do better on quite a different stage, although the production itself is a kind of admittance of searching for new ways, a natural outcome of the existential necessity to create which, in fact, cannot be stopped by any system. And Blaho Uhlár is proving it again and again.
The subtitle Poor theatre orgies bordering on a cheap show and avant-garde are a rather fitting genre definition of the production. There is no doubt about the poverty. Uhlár had minimalised the stage elements and what we saw was, indeed, a pure actors‘ theatre in the Grotowski‘s spirit. The director has even given up on the music (unless we count the modest live entries on ukulele); the actors were playing out absurd situations in complete silence in which each rustle and motion echoed.”
Tatiana Brederová, IS Theatre.sk, 31 December 2012
“The director is working on an almost empty stage with two actors – young men who are playing out the scenes in a way typical of the Stoka Theatre. They take a motif and implement it in silence, or by a motion, or develop it into a dialogue while using the body language. Slowly they create a magical, naturalistic and, often, absurd situation.”
The guys have jumped on his sense of humour with certainty. Occasionally their characters really reflected the director’s face, his distorted features or gestures. Now and then, it seemed that the scenes slightly touched on the manner of acting typical of some former ‘Stoka’ people.”
Eva Andrejčáková, SME, 4 November 2012
directed by Blaho Uhlár
script: Braňo Mosný, Peter Tilajčík, Blaho Uhlár
applied texts by: Jack London, Czesław Miłosz, László Jávor
stage and costume design: Miriam Struhárová
cast: Braňo Mosný, Peter Tilajčík
Blahoslav Uhlár (1951), graduate of theatre direction at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava (VŠMU) and an enfant terrible of the Slovak theatre. He started his theatrical career at the Theatre for Children and Youth in Trnava and later worked as a director in the Ukrainian National Theatre in Prešov. Since 1988 he has been active, almost exclusively, as an author, with the script of the staging being born during the rehearsals, in the interaction with the actor and, respectively, other co-authors, without any topics or motifs agreed in advance. In 1991 he founded, together with the visual artist Miloš Karásek, the legendary theatre company Stoka, a phenomenon of the Slovak avant-garde theatre. As a director, Uhlár provoked, but also cultivated, improvisation in the theatre offering principal civic statements. Having lost the acting space, due to the construction of a new shopping centre, the Stoka Theatre perished. At present Blaho Uhlár is active in Bratislava where he runs independent theatre projects under the title of a new company entitled S.T.O.K.A. and also cooperates with the amateur theatre group DISK Trnava. He has obtained a range of the most significant theatre distinctions and his productions have been introduced at many festivals at home and abroad, e.g., Grand Prix at the New Drama 2012 Festival for the video staging Attempt; Boards’98 – Divadelná Nitra ´98 – Prize for the Best Direction of the Season – the staging of Faces; Mimos ’93, Périgueux, France, – Critics‘ Prize for the staging of Impasse, and others.
Video of the production: no
Script of the production: SK, EN
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