Maja Hriešik

Is Slovak independent theatre forever doomed to be a squatter?

In the history of contemporary Slovak theatre there are two significant breaking points. The first came after 1989 and was connected with the political and ideological loosening, which meant new redefinitions of the staging methods and new discoveries of old contents and artists (mostly those who were silenced during regime). After decades of being on periphery of interest they were given the possibility to create, therefore they did not have big reason to question the existing system of theatre buildings / spaces nor did they go deeper into the redefinition of the relationship between spectator and creator. 

The most distinctive independent and also avant-garde company of the time, Stoka theatre, was working for almost a decade in a situation of permanent temporariness, but mainly concerning their financing. In the late 1990´s they launched a model for gaining financial help from many sources and were one of first who succeeded to independently provide whole years repertory programme with only the help of domestic and foreign grants, as well as being one of first to adapt for theatre a building originally designed for the Municipal Transport Company of Bratislava. In 2007 however another significant tendency culminated which is where I find a second breaking point in the latest history of Slovak theatre. The merciless urban modernisation of Slovak cities started crushing fragile non commercial objects (buildings) and subjects (artistic collectives) in the name of the pre EU accession, glamorizing the towns. The most expressive signal of this new philosophy was the demolition the of the Stoka theatre building. This act signified clearly that non commercial art and culture will not be made part of a new, better official Slovak tomorrow.