Theatre doors have been open since mid-November and artists took advantage of the opportunity to present new productions, the creation of which had been impacted by anti-pandemic measures or illness within their creative teams. Interesting premieres of new productions and projects took place in theatres across Slovakia. Cultural institutions also seized the chance to present reprises of popular productions in their repertoires, and embraced a novelty that is gradually becoming well-established in Slovakia: making productions available online.
Some theatres programmed productions only gradually, due to concerns about audience interest, as well as the associated costs, which risked turning into losses. Theatres, cinemas and churches were open to a maximum of 50% of their capacity and had to adhere to strict hygiene measures. The consumption of food and drinks was banned and the organisers had to carry out the mandatory measuring of spectators’ temperatures. Audience members were required to sit in every other row, or in a checkerboard pattern.
Many interesting theatrical premieres took place in the offline space, that is, live. The Slovak National Theatre presented Denník Anny Frankovej (The Diary of Anne Frank), a contemporary opera monodrama; Chaos, a contemporary work by Finnish director and playwright Mika Myllyaho; and the chamber production Deklarácia závislosti (Declaration of Dependence), an original play inspired by the life of Edward Bernays, the nephew of Sigmund Freud. The Andrej Bagar Theatre in Nitra presented Jiří Havelka’s original play Vlastníci (Owners), also well known in its film adaptation. The always popular theme of sports was the subject of the Ján Palárik Theatre in Trnava’s production Futbal, aneb bílý andelv pekle (Football, or the White Angel in Hell) and the Jonáš Záborský Theatre in Prešov presented the world-famous musical Jesus Christ Superstar. Bratislava’s Aréna Theatre, in cooperation with the Historical Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, presented Jánošík – príbeh vraha? (Jánošík – The Story of a Murderer?). Based on authentic period materials, the production presents Slovak national hero Juraj Jánošík in a new light.
Those theatres that decided to combine online and offline spaces found inventive approaches to the current situation. The Košice State Theatre, for example, premiered its production Čierna voda (Black Water) in both spaces. Some independent theatres proceeded cautiously in relation to the relaxed measures and opted to remain in the safe space of online presentation.
The month of eased measures has now ended. The government has introduced a curfew from Saturday, 19 December, which amounts to a total ban on theatrical activities until 10 January 2021.