The History of Slovak Theatre – 12. Modern Theatrical Forms

The Slovak theatre professionals were also inspired by the avant-garde processes of the first half of the 20th century, and were able to try out the new dramatic
processes particularly in cooperation with amateur theatres. At the turn of the 1930s, the directors translated them into several plays staged by the Theatre Company of the Slovak National Theatre. After World War II these tendencies were halted by the social and political changes that did not allow much room for the realization of such forms of theatre and art.

In the early 1960s, young theatre forms emerged in Slovakia mimicking the Czech pattern. The most well-known were the cabaret-oriented Tatra Revue with its critical and satirical plays contemplating about contemporary topics, the Radošiná Naive Theatre, a semi-professional theatre until 1989, with its naive stylistics and the Radošiná dialect as the basis of their poetry, or the Theatre on the Promenade that expanded on the poetry of the small stage forms by live interactions with audiences and attempts to present poetic theatre and text-appeal theatre. By government intervention, Tatra Revue and the Theatre on the Promenade were closed and had to cease their activities in 1971. In the 1960s, the internationally successful Pantomime Theatre of Milan Sládek operated in Bratislava, but after 1970 Milan Sládek decided to remain in Germany, where he opened his legendary Theatre Kefka (Little Brush) in Cologne (1974).

The time period of the 1970s and 1980s was not favourable for the development of new studio-type theatres that would be independent from the government institutions, so the new dramatic forms tended to appear more through the amateur and student theatres.

Only after 1990, under the influence of political and societal changes, the possibilities opened up to form new independent ensembles that worked with a variety of novelty theatre aspects such as decomposition of text, fragmentation of stage expression, physical action, using the elements of the physical theatre, new circus, or musical and art performances. Milan Sládek returned to Slovakia to head not only the pantomime theatre in Theatre Arena, but also to organize the international festival of mime art Gaukler.

Gradually, many independent theatre entities emerged that also drew from the ranks of professionals. Some of them affected the theatre activities in Slovakia quite markedly. Also, thanks to the establishment of cultural centres all over Slovakia, the gradually forming independent scene was able to react immediately to the artistic, cultural and social events at home and abroad and became an indelible part of the Slovak theatre.

National Minority Theatre

One of the features of the Slovak professional theatre scene is the existence of theatres of various national minorities that are equal participants the network of professional theatres in Slovakia by bringing their unique qualities and spirit. In addition to Slovak, Hungarian, Ruthenian and Romani languages can be heard from the Slovak stages. In 1945, the Ukrainian National Theatre (today the Alexander Duchnovic Theatre) opened its doors, in 1952 the Hungarian Regional Theatre in Komárno (today the Jókai Theatre in Komárno) was established in 1952, and later a branch scene Thalia opened in Košice, which after 1989 became administratively independent and today works as Theatre Thalia (Thália Színház). In 1992, Theatre Romathan was founded in Košice. The literary management of these theatres focuses not only on the preservation of traditions and cultures of the national minorities: In its early days, Romathan blended its social assimilation with the creation of dramatic plays that drew from the folklore. The Hungarian theatres and the Ruthenian company also serve as a cultural bridge between their home countries and Slovakia. The national minority theatres regularly bring inspirational and bold titles that resonate with the professional community and general public.

Community Theatre

After 1989 the Slovak dramatic community started to focus on target groups that were either suppressed during the times of socialism or to which the literary
management of the existing theatres did not pay attention. The creators focused on the problems, attitudes and contemplations of different communities, particularly of people with physical or mental disabilities, homeless people, LGBTI groups or feminist associations, and significantly helped to advance the social discussion on those topics.

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