Kranj – The Škofja Loka Passion, an early 18th-century play, is expected to be put on stage at the Prešeren Theatre in Kranj on Thursday, directed by award-winning director Jernej Lorenci. The 300-year-old play, the oldest preserved Slovenian play, was to be staged in March but the event was cancelled due to coronavirus.
Lorenci’s take on the play, the mass staging of which in the streets of Škofja Loka has been on the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage since 2016, will highlight the feelings of meaning, fear and pressure from the environment.
It is not just the passion of Christ, but the passion of each and every individual, and also the passion of actors in these times, of the theatre, and the entire world actually, the director said ahead of the premiere.
“The play is foremost based on feelings, and these are the feelings we too feel in these new times,” he said.
According to the artistic director of the Kranj theatre, Marinka Poštrak, the Škofja Loka Passion has in a way become a “scary depiction of the present day”.
She said two years ago when talks on this year’s staging started, she could not have imagined that the world would be in a way reliving the passion in these times.
The team behind the play got to the very essence of the Škofja Loka Passion, portraying human suffering, she said, announcing the play would not leave anyone cold.
Unlike the mass staging of the 18th-century play in the centre of Škofja Loka every six years, where 700 people take part, Lorenci’s play is adjusted to the smaller stage and fewer people. “But I think we have something original and cathartic going on here,” said actor Blaž Setnikar.
He said Loreci dealt with emotions and actors’ experiences rather than with the script, which is also the oldest preserved directing book in Europe.
The language is archaic and local, just like the one that Father Romuald used when he wrote the 1721 Škofja Loka Passion, but still understandable because the diplomatic version of the original text was used, said language editor Maja Cerar.
“Passions were in a way a pamphlet of the Church, which wanted to win over civil spaces, the square, which has always been the place for alternatives, criticism and open spirits … But the function of spectacle ate away the contents and the dogmatic function, so the church had to abolish them,” said Lorenci.