Cankar’s canon published in English for first time

Kranj – The dramatic canon of Ivan Cankar, considered to be Slovenia’s greatest playwright, has been translated into English for the first time to allow the West to discover a literary genius often compared to the likes of Henrik Ibsen.

Devised by the Prešeren Theatre of Kranj in collaboration with the Crane Creations Theatre Company from Canada, the project Cankar Goes West aims to present to foreign audiences what is a major part of Slovenia’s literary and dramatic canon.

In his plays Cankar (1876-1918) explores topics such as political corruption and greed, morals and the quest for truth, employing complex characters.

Cankar’s dramatic oeuvre has been translated into English by Michael Biggins, Rawley Grau, Jason and Alenka Blake, Tina Mahkota and Tom Priestly, who sought to preserve his style and language.

The plays Romantic Souls, Jakob Ruda, Lackeys, King of Betajnovi, Beautiful Vida, Depravity in St. Florian Valley and For the Good of the Nation have come out in physical and digital forms. Also planned is a collector’s luxury edition of 400 hardback copies.

Paperbacks and e-books will also be available at Amazon, the Prešeren Theatre has told the STA, expressing the hope that Cankar’s plays will soon be put on stage abroad.

Launched at the 51st Week of Slovenian Drama festival last year, the project Cankar Goes West was supported by the Slovenian Culture Ministry and the EU as part of the Creative Europe programme.

The plays are accompanied by a timeline of historical events that influenced Cankar (1876-1918) and his work and those leading to Slovenia’s independence. They are accompanied by photographs of various productions of his plays at Slovenian theatres.

The translation and publication of the books mark only the start of what the Kranj theatre says is a long-term project aimed at stimulating foreign theatres to produce Cankar’s plays.

As part of the project’s ongoing promotion, Cankar’s plays were read on stage in London late last year with further readings planned at theatres elsewhere.