Radio Slovenija

2 December 2015

Elfride Jelinek’s Princess Dramas directed by Michał Borzuch speaks neither of princesses nor of women, but about a wall or rather the powerlessness of humans to reach into the fullness of that potential called life. It speaks about the entrapment into a cocoon of emotional and intellectual dead ends with a single radical exit: a head in the oven. Five stories of repetition with small differences can, in this staging, be read as a story of one person or a story of one world, and the director-dramaturg duo have managed to achieve the almost impossible: they have chiselled a forest of symbols from Jelinek’s speech slates, and from this forest, familiar eyes are staring back at us. The stage landscape, defined with minimal scene elements, among them, a magnifying glass and a washing machine looming over head, the hypnotic dialogue partner of the awakened Sleeping Beauty; landscapes in which words don’t message only with meanings, but with their sonority, cleverly intertwined into a complete sound image; and finally acting, distinguished by exceptional technical precision and at the same time lightness, are thus only some of the characteristics of the performance that are responsible for the fact that we can imagine Princess Dramas also in the street, not just the stage.

Saška Rakef


7 December 2015

Led by the director Michał Borczuch and the author of the adaptation and dramaturg Tomasz Śpiewak, the Polish-Slovenian theatre team and the acting ensemble of the Mladinsko Theatre have directed a piled mass of words and meanings into an intimist reading of female existence. The performance meticulously avoids loudness and boasting, socially critical excesses and feminist theses, which otherwise the text can easily spur. It places under the microscope the antagonism between the publicly accepted image and the concealed, private facet of human existence, it emphasises the inner confusion, entrapment into social patterns and structures, impermeability of the invisible walls between numbed existence and life that seems glittering and full. With this it turns to what the title insinuates – to the painting of princesses, who aren’t princesses, of girls constantly inhabited by death. [...]

Anja Novak, Daša Doberšek, Maruša Oblak, Damjana Černe and Janja Majzelj successfully form the unease of the body and take on the linguistic outburst with precision, for the most part leaving to it a dislocated autonomous power which floods them and seizes them as an inner response to the public disposal of their images […].

Nika Arhar



19 December 2015

Director Michał Borczuch and dramaturg Tomasz Śpiewak first conceived the notoriously difficult-to-stage Princess Dramas in a brutally honest dialogue with the acting ensemble of five actresses (Damjana Černe, Daša Doberšek, Anja Novak, Maruša Oblak, Janja Majzelj) along with Boris Kos. At last, a performance for almost an exclusively female cast, because – grand characters are reserved for male actors. Are women really less suitable and appropriate for theatre stagings? Jelinek deconstructs the fate and the role of a woman using famous icons, fairytale, literary and political characters – from Sleeping Beauty, Rosamunde to Sylvia Plath, Ingeborg Bachmann, Jackie Onassis – and deconstructs them into complicatedly “readable” units. Jelinek’s text, particularly her bizarre stage instructions, her linguistic plains, is like a battle zone. First of all between the director and her inventions, then between the actors and the difficult writing. It is certainly not easy to confront her “installations”, her verbal somersaults, as she continuously transplants words from the usual into foreign contexts, intertextuality is pronounced … Borczuch has daringly and very differently embarked upon the mission à la Jelinek. Among these forceful mythological icons and popular half-icons, the intriguing Polish team have focused on a single one, the one who is the source and to blame for everything – the author herself. In Rosamunde, she is in fact first-person and present. And the scene with Maruša Oblak as Jelinek in the front live and on the video in the bath tub is a splendid vivisection of Jelinek’s (self-)destructive attitude towards her environment and herself. Death is a Leitmotiv, the drive of the play, the trigger of it all. The stories of the writers and Snow White are connected. And not through the vomited apple of knowledge, but through the mirror.

The creative team have first managed to unburden this no-longer-a-drama – as this autochthonous type of playwriting is defined as a genre –, of feminism. This is a daring step and a convincing, brave confrontation with a difficult text. The uncompromising loyalty to the text is surprising. The five no-longer-icons, but rather completely ordinary women in completely ordinary clothes with banal, loud housewifey hardware, we first see behind a magnifying glass. They’re at a table, with the most banal gadgets of everyday life: the company around the table is at the same time seen on a video screen. The share of the video (by Maruša Oblak) is of key importance in the performance and these scenes are the most suggestive ones. The performance has one peak in the otherwise static reading scene with Jackie Kennedy Onassis, which is a complete deconstruction of a myth. Damjana Černe, laden with shopping bags, reads a complicated, boring text from the prompter for as long as she can before taking another breath, she then stops and continues. The insanely long monologue of the first-person Jackie is subversive because in reality, she was never in the public as a first person, it was just her varnished image that was attacked from everywhere. The pathology is in fact in this duality of the real Jacqueline and the iconic Jackie, which in this scene is unambiguous. Jackie the pop icon (Daša Doberšek) is in the famous Chanel pink suit and dark sunglasses, mute as expected.

Part five is a dialogue between the Austrian author Ingeborg Bachmann and the poet Sylvia Plath, when the concentration of the spectator’s concentration irrevocably falters for the first time. It does finally tire, this pile of messages, signs, associations, allusions. Although the whole is exceptional – in a fresh, not even so serious autonomous interpretation of this almost unstageable, open text. [...]

The performance was first staged on Slovenian stages nine years ago in Prešeren Theatre Kranj, except that the director Ivica Buljan then staged only Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Rosamunde. In the front, were placed women’s emancipation and the renunciation of stereotypes according to which women are shown in society merely as princesses, beauties and models. The Poles have taken a completely different, more provocative path.

Melita Forstnerič Hajnšek 


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