The History of Slovak Theatre – 17. Slovak Theatre Criticism
The first sheepish signs of theatre reflection in Slovakia can be spotted before 1920, however, the expansion of professional theatre criticism has been naturally associated with the establishment of professional theatre. The developmental stages of
contemplation and writing about theatre copied the curves of theatrical development as such, although the criticism itself often became a target of criticism for lagging behind the dynamic changes in creation. From the awkward beginnings through gradual professionalization in the 1940s, stagnation and servile builder doctrine in the 1950s, upswing in the “golden” 1960 and normalization (self)censorship to the modern existential fights in the era of freedom – the road of the Slovak criticism and theatre studies was quite twisted. All time periods were characterized by polarization and side-taking based on world views (religious or party affiliations), culminating in the 1990s when the disputes about the quality of theatre were suppressed by politically motivated controversies.
In addition to milestones, such as the foundation of the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava (1949) and the Theatre Institute (1961), criticism was able to develop also thanks to the existence of professional periodicals – starting with Our Theatre (since 1928) through Film and Theatre (1957), Slovak Theatre (1957), Stage (1959) and others, up to the brief existence of a biweekly Theatre at the Turn of the Eras. The 1990s were turbulent in this regard, dominated by the fight for media space, which was manifested by the rapid emergence and quick extinction of several professional magazines. On the other hand, the new millennium brought a certain reset, which helped stabilize the situation. The journal kød – concretely about theatre, under the auspices of the Theatre Institute in Bratislava, has been attempting a complex reflection on the activities in the area of performance arts at home and abroad since 2007. Specialized periodicals focusing on dance theatre or opera were founded, electronic platforms for criticism
developed consistently with current trends. Male and female critics (this profession saw a significant feminization particularly in the last three decades after the revolution) in Slovakia, just like everywhere around the globe, searching for and finding the ways
to defend the importance and raison d’être of criticism in the current dynamic era of enormous technological advancements and overwhelming stimuli in the real and virtual worlds.
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