Dear friends of theatre!

It gives me great pleasure to invite you on a new and exciting theatre journey with us. The listing for the upcoming season includes six new productions on the Main Stage, five premieres on the Small Stage, three on the Left Stage, eleven Sunday concerts, several talks and lectures to be held in our new venue, the Šugman Salon where archival footage screenings of our previous productions will also take place. Before we set out together, allow me to summarise briefly how I personally experienced the season that is about to close. Indeed, there would have been many reasons for joy and pride, if ... It was our jubilee season marking the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the Ljubljana Dramatic Society, a year-long celebration of Drama’s birthday so to say. Not coincidentally, the season was opened and closed by Linhart's plays about Micka and Matiček, the iconic characters represented embracing each other on our logo designed by the late Matjaž Vipotnik. We were in admiration of spirited ideas by the authors addressing us from the past. However, we tried to point our gaze into the future as well. We set up a writing competition open to teenagers and organized a year-long creative writing workshop for them, supervised by Simona Hamer, a winner of the Grum Award, and our newly appointed »resident« author. In short, our celebration was an energetic affair, as it befits Drama, a successor of the Ljubljana Dramatic Society. We cherished good productions, interesting and refreshing versions of classical Slovenian plays, our self-confidence was on the rise, happily we counted star-studded ratings given by the reviewers and enjoyed a full house night by night. Until a huge black cloud suddenly descended on our celebration. In the middle of the season, in December 2017, Jernej Šugman, our principal actor, suddenly passed away. I am still at a loss for words to convey the silence caused by his untimely death.  So much depended on Jernej. Too much indeed. I was hardly aware of it, nobody was aware of it, let alone Jernej himself. Colossal as he was, he would have never acknowledged the impossibility of anything. I miss him. I miss him sorely. Many of our productions died with him, never to be revived again: Ubu the King, When I Was Dead, Democracy!, Yugoslavia, and »Art«. Many of our intended productions will never take place. Never ever. A great deal of laughter died together with Jernej. Many spirited conversations died with him. Deep sadness befell us.

In my introductions for the upcoming seasons, I seem to establish every year that we live in a chaotic and complex word and that we find it increasingly more difficult to make sense of. As I write, it is a sunny, calm day. As if the crisp green trees tried to reassure me that everything is starting up again. It seems absurd when I trace the map with my finger to realise that the areas of major crises and wars have moved barely for a centimetre, while the dead and the displaced are in their hundreds of thousands. Not very far from us, I realise, not at all, in the areas we are keen to call »a cradle of civilization«. What are these places to be called in a thousand years? A cradle of what?

For two years now, I have engaged in discussions with colleagues, friends, directors and dramaturgs where exactly to direct our spotlights in the upcoming season. Where indeed?  A troubled relationship between one’s private and public spheres, one’s privacy and constant availability; being »online« and generally available to everyone, or, conversely, being »off-line« and stuck in one’s own nook of the world, while a tsunami of globalisation is sweeping by? Should we not rather focus on the emerging rise of intolerance, populism and conservatism, making their unstoppable headway? What about the pressures experienced by the most vulnerable members of society; immigrants, gays, and women whom many would like to see relegated to their traditional roles?  »Neo-feminism«, perhaps, which is justly becoming increasingly aggressive as a reaction to a self-sufficient male-governed world? The list seem endless. Truly, there are many options. They all stem from Cankar’s quote in The Serfs, »the people will make their own judgment«, encapsulating an eternal truth, valid for all times. As if we forgot that there existed, a long time ago, humanism and enlightenment, and the motto »Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité«. We are living in an elusive period in which nothing is taken for granted, just as Zygmunt Bauman put it in his Liquid Modernity. There is, however, a touch of optimism in his words, implying that in view of the current waves of change the best wave ought to be captured. There is always a chance of capturing the right wave. Will be we know how to do it?

Ultimately, our thinking and deliberating about the upcoming season headed in the same direction: an individual person, one’s intimate experience of the world. This is how the title of the season, »Intimacy«, arose  ̶  as simple and essential as possible.

So it was agreed: »Intimacy«. Most of the plays considered for staging dealt with the phenomenon of family, ranging from a family in the most conventional, patriarchal sense of the word, to a family formed according to non-traditional principles, or a family that is just a yearning and an unfulfilled desire, a family representing traumatic experience, or a family following one like a shadow, defining us intensely. A family, always a family. A basic unit, a starting point for all our »action and inaction«. What are we like? Open minded, inhibited, kind, frightened, forgiving, envious, xenophobic, misogynistic, hateful ...?  It all comes down to one’s family. Well, at least the basis is laid there.Theatre is a witness of the present. Refusing to be a speechless witness, theatre wants to speak up. It keeps filtering our »here and now« through its sieve, translating it into staged images, striving to share them. It does not give any definite answers, but keeps asking questions. Above all, it keeps inviting us persistently to come together and take part in the event that is being created for us. Theatre longs for socialization and a ritual we all need in order to believe that we are more than a random group of individuals, washed ashore by the sea of ​​interests like plankton. I invite you to join us on a journey in the upcoming season.  

Igor Samobor

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