The Ljubljana City Theater is starting the season with the premiere of Ionesco’s iconic “anti-drama” The Bald Singer. Diego de Brea directed the play, which is still considered extremely current with its use of language games and satire.
In the 2023/2024 theater season, the MGL acting ensemble with guest author collaborators under the leadership of top directors will present themselves in twelve premiere productions, including six novelties (christening and first Slovenian productions) in the Slovenian theater space, the theater announced.
Iva Krajnc Bagola she plays Mrs. Smith in the play, Uros Smolej Mr. Smith, Lena Hribar Škrlec Mrs. Martin, Jaka Lah Mr. Martin, Matic Lukšič fire chief and Jana Zupančič maid Mary.
He translated the work Lucky Fisherthe dramaturg of the production is Eva Mahkovic. He took care of the costumes Leo Kulašthe light designer is Boštjan Kosand the sound designer Sašo Dragaš. The proofreader took care of the language Barbara Rogelj. The costume designer’s assistant also participated in the creation of the performance Lara Kulaš.
The timelessness of Ionesco’s singerThe play was initially rejected by both the Comédie-Française and the legendary theater group Renaud-Barrault, but in 1950, under the direction of Nicolas Bataille, it was finally staged at the Theater Noctambules.
The play was quickly met with laughter and approval from the audience. The satire of conformity and the empty, worn-out speech of the bourgeoisie caused critics to call Ionesco’s text a “manifesto of freedom”. His questioning of the realist tradition made him a landmark of this new drama, articulated parallel to and modeled on the new novel.
According to the director and artistic director of MGL Barbara Hieng Samobor however, the text has not lost its relevance or validity even today – especially in Europe. More than ever, the modern language is full of ever-new platitudes, such as “this issue will definitely be addressed”, “zero tolerance” and “transparency”, which encourages communication that instead of bringing together distances and isolates, he wrote in the theater paper Ignatius Fock. This kind of nonsense bordering on the absurd is not the result of a post-war existential crisis, but exists primarily in the desire to protect one’s own interests.
In the same period when Ionesco found in language (usage) a symptom of bourgeois pathology, he also drew attention to the fatal dimensions of language as a symptom and tool Orwell in a cult dystopia 1984. His “newborn” can be explained with the same structuralist paradigm, but in the opposite direction and thus closer to modern platitudes and euphemisms.
Premeditated nonsense The story is about Mr. and Mrs. Smith, who live a completely normal married life in London. Mr. and Mrs. Martin are supposed to come to visit, but they are late. The doorbell rings and the hosts go to change their clothes. Now they are waiting for a guest, and in the meantime they realize that they have already seen each other somewhere; that they are both from Manchester, that they came to London by train in the third class, and that they have a daughter called Alice—from which they conclude that they are husband and wife. During the gathering, the conversation between the hosts and guests gets stuck, and the doorbell keeps ringing, but no one is there. Mr. Smith opens the door after the fourth ring and sees the fire chief at the door, who is disappointed that there is no fire at the Smiths’ place. Since nothing happens, those present begin to tell each other stories with little or no meaning. Mary reveals that she and the fireman are lovers. The married couple begin to argue, but the words make little or no sense and less and less sense, and the language disintegrates into words, syllables and letters until Mr. and Mrs. Martin begin Mr. and Mrs. Smith’s dialogue from the beginning.
An antidrama that exposes languageBald singer with the genre label antidrama, it is a satire on petty-bourgeois society. At the core of the play lies exactly language, i.e. the human ability and at the same time the way of expression and communication according to the principles of the system of agreed sound and graphic signs. In his own words, Ionesco conceived it as a tragédie du langage, i.e. a “tragedy of language”, wrote Ignac Fock.
In this anti-drama, Ionescu first discovered how to speak and not say anything: “Smith and Martin can no longer speak because they can no longer think; and they no longer know how to think, because they no longer know the meaning of emotions, because they no longer have any passions in them; they no longer know how to be and therefore can “become” anyone, anything; because they are not in themselves, they are nothing but other people, they belong to the impersonal world, they are interchangeable.” The author plays with language in many different ways, from repeating words and phrases as well as breaking them down into unrelated syllables and sounds, and he also likes to include phrases, proverbs and puns in the text.
One of the pioneers of the theater of the absurdOne of the most famous dramatic works was created not long ago by chance, as Ionesco had no serious ambitions to become a playwright until then. As he asserted in a book in 1962 Notes et contre-notes, his only desire was to learn English, so he got himself a French-English conversation book for beginners and set about studying colloquial phrases and language clichés. It was in this textbook that he also encountered the English married couple Smith, their maid Mary and family friends, Mrs. and Mr. Martin, on the basis of which the play was created, which is considered one of the finest examples of the drama of the absurd and one of the most popular comedy proposals of all time. also reported from the theater.
Ionesco is together with Jean Genet and Samuel Beckett considered to be the originators of the theater of the absurd, a term coined by the critic in his essay in 1960 Martin Esslin. Despite his Romanian roots, he wrote most often in French. He started dealing with dramatic literature quite by accident, when Bald singers but he is best known for his works Instructions, Sacrifices of duty, Teaching, A rhinoceros and The king dies.
Director of many genresBald singer directed by the distinguished and multi-awarded Diego de Brea, who was a hit at MGL last season God of Massacre Yasmine Reza. De Brea is known for his exploration of various genres, from youth plays and puppet shows to musical vaudeville, opera performances and cultural events, and he often creates scenography and/or costume design for his projects. His productions were hosted at prestigious festivals at home and abroad, and for his directing and performances he received many prestigious awards at home and abroad, including the Golden Bird and the special award of the Borštnik meeting in 2002 and the award for aesthetic breakthrough at the Borštnik meeting in 2005.
The premiere will take place on Friday, September 15, at 8:00 p.m. on the Veliki Oder, and after the premiere, Dnevnik, the media content company, will present an award to the best MGL theater creator in the past season.