The issue opens with the next annotated extract from essays on the theme of time: this time Miroslav Petříček accompanies his own selection and translations of excerpts from Heidrun Friese’s work “Augenblick” with his essay “The Right Time”. In the introductory section “Time… for the End of Humans”, it is accompanied by essays: “The Art of Solving a Problem” by Cathrine L. Alt and “Dogmatics of Hamlet’s Prince” by Ctibj Ruslan Tab, and also two reviews (Etlíková: “Balance Unisons about So-called Capitalism” and Král: “Repase”) of the production The End of --- People / Second-hand Times, created by the Spitfire Company from the book by Svetlana Alexievich. The section “Orpheus… among Nervous Trees” brings Ester Žantovská’s review (“To Sing Out an Artist’s Soul”) of three productions by Jan Nebeský (Ovid: Orpheus, Genet’s Thief’s Journal and Nebeský’s own I Love You as after Death); Jakub Škorpil reviews two productions by the director-dramaturge duo Jan Horák and Michal Pěchouček (Cell No. by Petra Hůlová and A Few Messages to Space by Wolfram Lotz), and Marie Resslová (“The Day After”) comments on Krištof Kintera’s exhibition Nervous Trees. The section “Puppet Puppy… and Dreaming God” consists primarily of Barbora Etlíková’s portrait of the puppeteer Matija Solce (“Jamming at Whited”), supplemented by S.d.Ch.’s report on a puppet production of Ladislav Klíma’s drama Dios. In the section “With the Circus… Against the Weather”, Vladimír Mikulka (“Summer Letná’s Hypes and Non-Hypes”) writes about this year’s productions at the Letní Letná (Summer Letná) festival, Barbu (Cirque Alfons) and Forever, happily… (Collectif Malunés), while Nina Vangeli adds a review of the production Under by Circus Cirkör (“After the Fall”). The section “William of Salzburg… and the Lady of Corinth” is dedicated primarily to the Salzburger Festspiele and Jana Wild (“Salzburg Experiments”) writes about a new production of Jedermann, Aribert Reimann’s opera King Lear and about the project Searching for William by the group Woods of Birnam. Michaela Mojžišová (“Theatre without Interpretation”) adds a review of Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District from the same festival, Moses in Egypt from the Bergenzer Festspiele, and The Siege of Corinth from the Rossini Opera Festival. In the section “En Route… USA – Scotland”, Blanka Křivánková writes about the phenomenon of the musical Hamilton and its Chicago version (“Hamiltonmania”), Kateřina Veselovská about the production Pursuit of Happiness by the Nature Theatre of Oklahoma (“Happiness in the Times of War”), and Dana Silbiger Sliuková (“A Dismal Right to Sadness”) returns to the Edinburgh International Festival and reviews productions of Meet Me at Dawn by Zinnie Harris, Rhinoceros by Eugéne Ionesco, Oresteia: This Restless House by Zinnie Harris, The Divide by Alan Ayckbourn, Real Magic by Tim Etchells and Forced Entertainment, Don Giovanni directed by Iván Fischer, and Verdi’s Macbeth directed by Emma Dante. The last section “Into the Gutter (Stoka)… with an Obstetrician” (all q.v.) includes an interview with the founder and the main character of the Slovak theatre Stoka (Gutter), Blaho Uhlár (“I am Only Marginally Aware of Slovak Theatre”), and Vladimír Mikulka’s essay (“The Stoka Series is still Running”) on the last three pieces by this theatre. One of them, entitled Re re re…, is also the play of the issue. The title of the final playlet by Hubert Krejčí is A Pterodactyl in Brno (A Play for Planary Puppets) and the closing installment of the comic strip “Theatre Sadism Lessons” by S.d.Ch. is entitled Arial Black.
Into the Gutter (Stoka)… with Obstetrician The Bratislava ensemble Stoka (Gutter) is a legend of Slovak alternative theatre. Blaho Uhlár founded the company in the early 1990s and from then on Stoka has consistently offered distinctive authorial theatre based on collective improvisation. Today we could talk about “Third Generation Stoka” where for the fourth season new graduates from VŠMU in Bratislava collaborate with Uhlár. Thus for the first time in its history the ensemble finds itself in a situation where it is made up entirely of professionally educated actors.
In his essay The Stoka Series is still Running (Parts 36–38) Vladimír Mikulka considers three productions by Stoka in the 2016/17 season. They are premières with serial numbers from 36 to 38 in the ensemble’s repertoire: Projectile, Wellness and Re re re… All three are characterized by their jigsaw structure, poetics of cruel awkwardness, fondness for absurdity and at the same time very simple stage design; in a typical Stoka sketch there are two or three characters talking to each other (often members of a family or people intimately linked) all the while becoming both physically and verbally more and more absurdly cramped, often even leading to violence. Scenography and props are kept to a minimum, with productions getting by with simple, sometimes almost deliberately amateur looking sets and basic lightning. In terms of form, the most elaborate title from the trio is Wellness, which also differs from the other two pieces (and more generally from Stoka standards) by its ironic reflections on the period of Slovak nationalism.
In the interview I am Only Marginally Aware of Slovak Theatre Blaho Uhlár talks about the origins of the new ensemble, the conditions it works in, and how it is related to general changes in Slovak theatre. Further on he answers questions concerning his relations with former Stoka members, with the Slovak theatre world, and on mutual understanding between him and markedly younger collaborators.