Škofja Loka Passion Play wins Maribor Theatre Festival

Maribor – The Škofja Loka Passion Play, a Jernej Lorenci-directed production of the early 18th century rhymed-verse parable of human salvation, won the main prize at the 57th Maribor Theatre Festival on Sunday, along with the award for best music.

A co-production of the Kranj Prešeren Theatre and Ptuj City Theatre, the winning production was praised by the international judging panel for its intensity that came from its chamber-theatre method, its immediacy and its critical view of the past and present.

The oldest preserved Slovenian dramatic work, written in 1721 by Capuchin monk Romuald Marušič, has been transformed from a massive, procession-form spectacle into what the judging panel described as an “inward-turned extravaganza”, featuring a cast of six actors.

In particular the judges lauded the homogeneous cast and the atmosphere created by the visual and musical elements. The author of the score, Branko Rožman, came away with the Borštnik Award for best music.

Meanwhile, Sebastijan Horvat took best director for his take on Heiner Müller’s Cement in a production by SNG Drama Ljubljana Theatre in what the judges praised as “a mature, sovereign and self-contained poetics, offering originality, engagement and sophistication”.

The same production won Igor Vasiljev the award for best stage set design for “shaping a seemingly plain bourgeois interior as a multi-functional and versatile space” and Aleksander Čavlek took the award for best lighting, which the judges said contributed to the production’s “powerful alienating effect”.

At the awards ceremony in Maribor on Sunday six actors were honoured as well. Nina Valič won the award for the roles of Sawda and Nazira in SNG Drama Ljubljana’s production Scorched, Jana Zupančič for Barbara Fordham in August: Osage Country, by Ljubljana City Theatre, and Nataša Barbara Gračner for her acting in Cement and in Birds of a Kind by Mini Teater, Ptuj City Theatre and Ljubljana Festival.

Marko Mandić was honoured for his roles in Cement and Scorched, Marjuta Slamič for playing Bogdana in
Rowan, Strudel, Dance and More (Mladinsko Theatre and SNG Nova Gorica), and Vladimir Vlaškalić won the award for the older version of Jeranek in I Saw Her That Night, which is a co-production of Drama SNG Maribor, Vienna Burgtheater, the Belgrade Yugoslav Drama Theatre and Cankarjev Dom.

The award for up-an-coming actor went to Lina Akif for her role in Birds of a Kind. The jury’s Borštnik Award for an all-round accomplishment went to Scorched, directed by Nina Rajić Kranjac and produced by SNG Drama Ljubljana, for how perfectly it portrayed the world’s chaos.

The festival, which opened on 30 May, saw 16 productions in the running for awards. The Borštnik Ring for life-time achievement in theatre acting went to Ivo Barišič, a 73-year retired actor who most recently worked at the SNG Nova Gorica theatre.