The Slovenia Times

Artist Jernej Šugman mourned by colleagues


They praise him as "a great actor who dared to go all the way" and "a great person", regretting his premature death, at 48.

"One of the greatest Slovenian actors ever died. It is hard to say right now what this means for our theatre. All I can say is that we've lost our engine," Igor Samobor, the director of SNG Drama Ljubljana, for which Šugman worked practically his entire career, told the newspaper Delo last evening.

"He was a friend, a colleague, one of the greatest actors who played on our stage, a face which will be impossible to forget," Samobor said in SNG Drama's press release today.

"With Jernej's much premature death, his unforgettable roles, unforgettable worlds which were created and which would continue to be created in the future, are leaving us completely unprepared."

But what will remain for good is the recordings of theatre productions, films, photos, reviews and interviews as well as many awards, which will testify about an acting giant who died much too early, Samobor wrote a day after his death.

"We, his contemporaries, friends and colleagues, will be left with a memory of his laughter, wit and friendliness, a great deal of imagination and inspiration, both of which he unselfishly shared ... His enormous heart could not keep up with his devotion," said Samobor.

For theatre director Jernej Lorenci, Šugman was "a great man" and "an ideal combination of a man and talent, of a witty laziness and total commitment and dedication".

The pair worked together on three productions: Iliad, Bible, the First Attempt, and Ubu Roi. While Šugman received a Borštnik Award for the title role in Ubu Roi last year, he was to receive another for the same role at the Premio Europa festival in Italy's Rome later this week.

Film director Damjan Kozole said Šugman was "one of the few actors who dared to go all the way, intuitively and honestly, but also with clear reflection".

Kozole will remember him for his exceptional roles in theatre and on film, but foremost as an exceptional and witty person who was able to take the smallest detail and make it funny.

"His wit was simply therapeutic. Every day spent with him ... was something special. He has left behind a big void as an actor and person." Šugman starred in Kozole's latest, 2016 feature drama film Nightlife.

One of the most prolific Slovenian actors, Šugman played more than 80 roles in theatre, of which 77 at SNG Drama Ljubljana, the leading national theatre, for which he worked since 1992.

Among his numerous praised and awarded roles there were many demanding lead roles, such as Baal, Hamlet, Lear, Oedipus, Ubu, Titus Andronicus and Agamemnon. He received several Borštnik awards, the highest awards for acting given out annually at the Maribor Theatre Festival, and in 1997 a Prešeren Fund Prize for acting over the past two years.

He also played on film and TV, and made one of the most memorable comic roles as doorman Veso in two TV series, Teater Paradižnik (Tomato Theatre) in the mid-1990s and Naša mala klinika (Our Little Clinic) in the 2000s.

Earlier today, Drama SNG opened a book of condolences for the late actor and will hold a memorial event on Wednesday at 3 PM.


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