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The Alternative Today? The Art of Creating Theatre Outside the Production Ultimatums

A professional meeting organised by the Association of Theatre Critics and Researchers of Slovenia in collaboration with the Maribor Theatre Festival

20 October 2015 | 10.00 | Salon of Applied Arts

Experimental theatres and alternative performing practices enriched the dominant artistic production of the second half of the 20th century through their activities outside the frame of the prevailing and established norms – both aesthetic- and production-wise. This was at once the core of their subversiveness and a critique of dominant ideologies.

Later on, the central artistic production partly incorporated these practices. If we make a very condensed summary, this transformed situation in Slovenian theatre and the cross-breeding of different practices still allowed for the existence of a powerful non-institutional, that is NGO, scene in the 1990s. In the new millennium, however, the subversiveness of this scene was confronted with different repressive mechanisms. The "monitoring” of the immediate political and social ideology was replaced by the "normativity” of a less transparent and, therefore, more binding, even confining, democracy of the market, financial uncertainty, the rigidity of public institutions and the bureaucratisation of the cultural-political system. We are talking about the logic of statistics, the priority of quantity over quality, the bureaucratisation of procedures, projects and application calls, reduced rehearsal time for productions and the artists’ over-employment; to put it briefly, we are witnessing the logic of hyper-production leading to exhaustion and emptiness.

Nowadays, the non-institutional scene is barely managing to provide for (poor and increasingly poorer) working conditions. In turn, the ever-increasing pressure of capitalist logic causes the institutional scene – production-wise mainly more stable – to struggle to maintain fluidity and flexibility for implementing diverse working possibilities within their networks. Who is then nowadays capable of producing the alternative? What is actually the alternative in Slovenian theatre? And where can we detect that which introduces difference within the traditional/common/expected artistic production?

The main goal of this one-day professional meeting is to reflect upon the production conditions that nowadays dictate the creation of performing arts. Our aim is certainly not to stick to gloomy overviews and predictions, such as: "What is production doing to art?” Instead of this, we suggest a provocative question: "What is it that theatre art can do for the production conditions?” Which examples of good practice in contemporary Slovenian theatre diverge from the common production modes and thus perhaps instigate a productive difference?

As this is a lively, elusive and extensive topic, the event is conceived as a meeting of a broad spectrum of viewpoints. We will distil the neuralgic points of theatre and its production circumstances through time and structure the discussion through a constructive cross-stitching of theory and practice, of production and artistic creation.

Concept and organisation: Nika Arhar and Nika Leskovšek




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