The Slovenia Times

Branko Šturbej wins top accolade for theatre actors

Actor Branko Šturbej. Photo: Bor Slana/STA

One of the most acclaimed and popular Slovenian actors, Branko Šturbej is the winner of this year's Borštnik Ring, the top honour for theatre actors in the country, which has been presented as part of the Maribor Theatre Festival since 1970.

"Branko Šturbej has a diverse range as an actor that includes roles from the classic and contemporary repertoires," author and theatre critic Blaž Lukan wrote on behalf of the judging panel.

"He is equally confident in drama and comedy, and it seems he enters each role with the same 'naivety' and frankness, verging on childlike wonder, and through the development of the role he is slowly but surely gaining an astounding depth of thought and emotion - alongside indisputable 'technical' virtuosity.

"His acting always comes, as it was once written, 'from the real epicentre of theatre'," Lukan added as the winner was declared in Maribor on 29 May.

A member of the country's leading theatre, SNG Drama Ljubljana, the 63-year-old actor has been part of the Slovenian theatre scene for 40 years.

Born and raised in Maribor, Šturbej joined the Ljubljana ensemble right after graduation in 1985, but returned to Slovenia's second largest city in 1990 to join theatre director Tomaž Pandur (1963-2016), who took over as the artistic director of the SNG Maribor theatre.

The acclaimed director entrusted him with many iconic roles, such as Mephisto in Faust, Hamlet, Dante in The Divine Comedy and Myshkin in The Russian Mission, the productions that won Pandur international acclaim.

Šturbej returned to the SNG Ljubljana theatre in 1997, where he has remained since. He has collaborated with other theatres too as well as appearing in film and television productions.

He has won a number of awards for his work, including ten at the Maribor Theatre Festival, and the Prešeren Fund Prize in 1996.

Most recently he won best actor at the 32nd Days of Comedy in February for his portrayal of Malvolio in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, or What You Will.

He has been lecturing at the Ljubljana Academy of Theatre, Radio, Film and Television, his alma mater, for the past 20 years.

Šturbej will receive the ring on 16 June, at the closing ceremony of the 59th Maribor Theatre Festival, the leading Slovenian theatre event.

Addressing a press conference where he was declared the winner, the actor said he considered the ring a great honour and recognition of his work so far. "I'm interested not so much in specific roles as in working with people who have a passion for theatre, a passion for making art," he said.

The ring is named after Slovenia's first professional actor Ignacij Borštnik (1858-1919) and is given out alternately to an actor and an actress. Last year, it went to Nataša Matjašec Rošker.

The Maribor Theatre Festival is getting under way on 3 June with the official opening on 7 June. It will feature a total of 12 productions in the running for Borštnik awards.


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