The Extraordinary Season
2021/2022 — Season 66
In line with the motives of Petronius’s Satyricon

Trimalchio's Dinner

Directed by: Bojana Lazić
Première: 27. 12. 2021
Performances
Wednesday / 16 Feb / 20:00 / Upper hall
Thursday / 17 Feb / 20:00 / Upper hall
Friday / 18 Feb / 20:00 / Upper hall
Monday / 21 Feb / 20:00 / Upper hall
Tuesday / 22 Feb / 20:00 / Upper hall
Wednesday / 23 Feb / 20:00 / Upper hall
Credits
  • Text adaptation and dramaturgy: Slobodan Obradović
  • Set design: Zorana Petrov
  • Costume design: Maja Mirković
  • Music: Vladimir Pejković
  • Choreography: Damjan Kecojević
  • Speech advisor: Mateja Dermelj
  • Translation: Sonja Dolžan
  • Lighting design: Bojana Lazić, Zorana Petrov
  • Sound design: Silvo Zupančič
  • Make-up artist: Nathalie Horvat
  • Stage manager: Liam Hlede

Additional text devised by the ensemble.

Description

Trimalchio's Dinner is the most notorious and the longest preserved part of the ancient novel Satyricon, said to be written by Titus (Gaius) Petronius, the arbiter elegantiarum at emperor Nero’s court. The Satyricon is a compelling, witty and obscene satire. It takes place in the Southern Italy in the 1st century AD; a time when morality is in decline, while crime takes centre stage. It is to be expected as Nero is occupying the throne. In Trimalchio's dinner a new fat cat, who was a slave until yesterday, holds a feast. It is a lavish blowout that lasts for days. The guests discuss how there is scarcely any flour or bread in the town, while indulging in honey wine and bathing in exotic fragrance oils. Everything you could wish for is right there. From wine to pork, from the most honest guests to the most dishonest critics. From random passers-by, who are only good for a fuck, to quasi-visitors, quasi-intellectuals, quasi-poets, quasi-speakers, quasi-philosophers, quasi-artists … We too are a quasi-civilisation. We have quasi-heroes. We have quasi-love. We have quasi-empathy and quasi-friends. We have, to this day, only vice. There is camaraderie, misfortune, and distastefulness, which is what we have today. So how can you explain to some “important” host, this Trimalchio – a billionaire and a swine, in a time when everything is wrong, that he is indeed a swine? There is nothing to explain here. We allowed this to happen, so, dear gentlemen, let us devour this shit and lick our fingers with dignity.

In the media

Exploring the concept of manipulation and reactions to it, the first and second parts of the production come together into a powerful whole that deals with the relationship between manipulators and the manipulated. The piece captures and examines this psychological subversion […] from various angles, creating a forceful synthesis of relations that range from deliberation on classical and contemporary theatre to the relationship between the ruling and subordinate social classes. […] The production raises intriguing questions about how to stage and reinterpret Greek and Roman classics. Artfully combining the opposing ends of the spectrum, it emerges as an outstanding and highly relevant image of today’s theatre scene, politics and society.

The excesses in Trimalchio's Dinner indicate the possibilities that arise when dealing with theatrical trifles, particularly with the functions of those involved and exposed on stage, or their relegation to the roles of director, actor or choreographer. The addition of (surreal) humorous elements (stylistically reminiscent of some legendary jokes from Belgrade theatre productions and films) derails the course of the narrative (‘action’), twisting it in entirely new ways. This derailment is the crucial feature of the piece, turning the story of a bacchanalia controlled by a dictator (which, in fact, contradicts what a bacchanalia really is) into a sketch of a schizophrenic aggregate consisting of the production itself (as a cultural product) and the profiles of its participants (as personalities). The twist allows the show to expose the psychedelic flashes that psychology (as a discipline founded on reason) cannot discipline. […] Trimalchio's Dinner attempts to overcome the alienation reflected in both theatre babble and the obsession with functions (including the perception of the audience as one in a series of functions). Anyone present within its context can feel it succeeding in its intention. It feels good to be part of an endeavour that, more than on stage, bears fruit in one's (individual) psychedelic, in the dimensions of unconditional, inalienable freedom.

In the two acts, which, although separated by a sharp incision, are mirror images of each other in many ways, Lazić juxtaposes ancient Roman kakistocracy with the process of staging a play. […] Both parts also articulate a vision of alternatives to autocratically organised communities. At some point, both authorities disappear off the stage: Trimalchio to take a dump and the director to sulk backstage. This is when the guests and the actors, suddenly all equal, lose their inhibitions and finally engage in honest communication. While this may lead to conflict or blissful harmony, both options are cathartic.

Gold & white costumes are combined with a minimalistic set design where a large part of the stage is occupied by musical instruments. When actors can’t understand or don’t agree with the director’s demands or interpretations, this causes friction and comical conflicts, though the director always has her way. Trimalchio’s Dinner is a self-referential comedy and a good example of theatre within theatre […].

The clarity in content is complemented by refinement in form. […] Like guests at the dinner, the cast can only truly loosen up when the authority figure leaves. It is only in the absence of control that true freedom is born.

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Maja Kurtz Padiwyack, Jure Čerin, Marko Aleksić, Hedvika Škof, Iva Hana Bogataj, Miro Bernjak, Luka Smrtnik, Danilo Marusig, Carmen Frfole, Danielej Nikolovski, Stojan Vencl, Cveta Čekić, Srna Tunić, Luca Peikozzi, Demi Moushn