Cafe Theatre in Slovenia

Vita Mavrič. Photo: Nebojša Tejić

Twenty years ago Vita Mavrič – actress, singer, and activist – decided to have a go at theatre in a slightly different way: her cafe-based theatre developed into an active and social venue that hosted many aspiring as well as established artists. The theatre is also the birthplace of “La Vie en Rose” festival, which has promoted the art of chanson in the Slovenian cultural milieu for almost 15 years.

The Cafe theatre  first came to life 22 years ago in the Maribor Drama SNG theatre. With the permission of then artistic director Tomaž Pandur, Vita Mavrič turned the small stage into a cafe theatre “Cabaret of the 20th Century”. It staged the first and only show Ne smejte se, umrl je klovn (Please don’t Laugh, the Clown has Died) dedicated to Fran Milčinski Ježek. The 'real' cafe theatre came into being on 11 November 20 years ago at the Grand Hotel Union; its first show was Arabella written by Andrej “Roza” Rozman and directed by Matjaž Pograjc.

Exhibition in the National and University Library

In mid-September, an exhibition dedicated to the 20th anniversary of Cafe teater was opened at the National and University Library (NUL). As stated by Director of the NUL, Martina Rozman Salobir, Cafe teater needed but 20 years to find its way to the national library; active as it is, it will not gather any dust, however.

The exhibition displays posters and photographs from shows and sketches, among which the exhibition designer has highlighted the works of costume designer Alan Hranitelj, sheet music, theatre and concert programmes. The exhibition presents the history of Cafe teater together with the projects of its founder, Vita Mavrič.

Cafe teater has offered the theatre of cabaret, comedy, satire, chanson and musical - genres that are neglected in the theatre world of today. Thanks to Mavrič, the art genre of chanson has found a home within other cultural institutions, too.

"The chanson singer symbolises the primary musician and poet who has ever had anything to say, to express, to sing and comment on, and who is still doing it today," asserts Mavrič. In her view, the reason for the music and poetry tournament with guitars is that “in practically every remarkable author there lurks a troubadour with a guitar who proves that less is sometimes more."

 

The Gallus Hall of Cankarjev dom cultural centre has hosted 15 international chanson soirees titled “La Vie en Rose”. The programme of traditional meetings intertwines the contributions of young and promising artists and experienced, legendary names.

In Mavrič's words, the singer-songwriter scene in Slovenia is extremely rich, so "not everyone whose guitar and voice have left a trace on this chanson-paved road of ours can be heard this time"; all of them are, however, guests of the Slovenian Chanson Festival, which in Mavrič's opinion testifies to that fact that the spheres of chanson singers and singer-songwriters are closely interlaced.