based on Fedra (J. Racine)
directed, set design: Matej Filipčič
dramaturgy, text: Irena Štaudohar
costume design: Alan Hranitelj
guitar: Uroš Usenik
sound design: Jure Vlahovič
light design: Miran Šušteršič
design of promo material: Rok Marinšek
photo: Peter Uhan
project was realized by help of Ministry of Culture and City Municipal of Ljubljana
Nobody lives in direct present - we all connect things and events with the power of our personal and collective memories. How do we play the memories in our heads? Backward or forward? Do we change, edit, repeat or interpret them? We can do everything to them, everything.
Some of the most intimate, loving ones are called back to our present and played back in our bodies with the help of one of the most "mundane" feeling requisites - the love song. No wonder that one of the most famous film quotes ever is a line from Casablanca. Play it again, Sam.
The memory is a medium of time. Yet strangely, when a memory is closest to us, it is also the farthest away, excruciatingly so. Just as unfulfilled desire.
Phaedra is a metaphor for unrequited love. It is a medium for all archetypes of love sentiments. In love with her step son, she rages, weeps, moans, blushes, curses, pales, raves, vindicates, wakes mythological monsters, murders, betrays... Her inner monologues become confession. Enone, her nurse, is the medium to soak in all her words and deeds. If we play back Phaedra, we hear a dialogue, two stories, remembrance and oblivion.
Foucault once wrote about Racines theatre that in it, every day is overtaken by a night, which eventually ends in a day. All things happen twice; from up-close and afar, inside and out. Between sunrise and sunset. Natures most beautiful medium of feeling.
s a n s e t
Sanset is an interesting and, despite its unpretentiousness, a precisely and effectively conceived and performed theatre miniature on the “topic” of Racine’s Phaedra. The director and set designer Matej Filipčič and the author and dramaturge Irena Štaudohar condensed the action originating from various interpretative and performing levels into a series of scenes between two actresses (and a stage worker). First, there is the costume scene between Phaedra and her nurse, written anew and complemented with original verses, then the scene between the two women in “civilian” clothes, followed by scenes in which both women, each individually, talk (into a microphone) about their experiences of the little things in life or sensitive states, then the scene of the preparation, execution and fadeout of stage action and, finally, the scenes in which a young stage worker (the relaxed Gorazd Bračun) “imperceptibly” enters the action, leaving us uncertain as to him being an object or a symbol of Phaedra’s unrequited love.
Love is the main theme of this clearly articulated performance, but not mere love, rather a real flame of love, which burns inwardly in the body of Lučka Počkaj, while the nurse (convincingly performed by Katja Levstik) constantly encourages its expression. The dialogue between the two women is sometimes exquisitely parabolic, sometimes downright direct, but also almost metaphysically elevated, so that love emerges from the performance as a sort of a “personified”, not in the least sappy, almost tactile but at the same time completely fragile emotion or feeling which can (and needs to) be just barely perceptibly touched in order not to collapse or turn into its opposite. The author as well as the director and Počkaj in the “main” role perform this task excellently: the first in the form of a now poetic, now reflexive, now slightly ironic (especially in the “show” on the topic of “the loneliness of love discourse”) textual fabric or patchwork, the second with precisely conceived situations, telling gestures and, despite its economy, a suggestive set (two armchairs plus a background in the form of a sort of a miniature skyscraper with illuminated windows), and the third with an enigmatic reservedness provoking questions, such as: who is the one who loves, do they really love, do they even deserve the love of their chosen one, do they love just themselves and their imaginary irreproachability?
There are even more discussion points in this “sansetian” (quasi)melodrama (it uses only its devices to achieve a deeper dramatic effect), to mention but a few here: a time loop in which the three “heroes” are captured (represented by the sound recording being played backwards), the relation between performance and intimateness, the public and the private, memory and remembering, etc. In short, there are enough associations for a theatre event of the sort that has lately been lacking on the Slovenian non-institutional scene.
Blaž Lukan, Delo