- Nina Rajić Kranjac
- Benjamin Krnetić
- Marko Mandić
- Idea, concept and performance: Nina Rajić Kranjac, Nataša Keser, Benjamin Krnetić, Marko Mandić
- Set design: Urša Vidic
- Composer: Branko Rožman
- Costume design: Marina Sremac
- Musicians: Petra Božič, Branko Rožman
- Music selection: Nina Rajić Kranjac
- Lighting design: Matjaž Brišar
- Sound design: Marijan Sajovic
- Set technitians: Boris Prevec, Tadej Čaušević
- Stage manager: Dafne Jemeršič
- Artistic advice: Minca Lorenci
- Production management: Tina Dobnik
Solo is a project where the director and actors meet in improvisation. It’s an attempt to create an event from given cues, drawing on the question of what it means to be alone. Why theatre, what are its uses, how to change your thinking about it through these meetings? This is also the director’s attempt to put herself into the spotlight and to study herself. To make herself both the subject of the problem and its catalyst. The event, created anew in each performance, may be a result of the perpetual need to search for meaning.
I wished it had never been over! If I could only stay in that courtyard where the last part was taking place, comfortably seated by the fire, eating ćevapći, drinking beer, watching the performers moving and talking among us, almost as friends, listening to the live violin and accordion in the background, sensing myself as a part of a feeling and thinking crowd, nurtured and alive. I guess this is what they wanted us to be. Alive.
Solo is a furious, but not desperate scream of a generation rejecting the protocols of the system a part of which it is supposed to become. This explains all the swearing, furious pushing away and denying the eminent names of the local and international scene, including Peter Stein. The protagonists simply lose it and they break with the courteous lingering on the theatre of the previous century because they want to move forward. As the generation of ‘descendants’ they inherited nothing more tangible than a shadow from the venerated theatre giants, and this shadow is in their way. The world has slipped into a vampirised form of capitalism that tolerates the theatre of autonomous thought as a decorative pendant. This is why Solo doesn’t hold back on anything, as a multi-layered four-hour show it doesn’t even set time limits to itself (in Belgrade, they grill and eat ćevapčići during the show), but allows intuition to reign. The suspense holds because the narration is perpetuated by the seemingly endless improvisational instinct, which is a synonym for the collective self-confidence and the off-the-chain performing spirit. [..] This is not the youth whose anger is a pose, just for the sake of it, no, rather they are a group honing their skill of suppressing some kind of almost ontological anger.
Solo is a manifest of the theatre and theatre creativity that was, is and will be. […] In the director’s love for theatre, one can also feel her critique of it and considerations that even experienced, professional creators encounter. Here, what is targeted is the questioning of theatre and its meaning. Is it possible to change anything at all with a theatre performance? And finally, is theatre still the medium that confronts the spectators with the critique of society, as it used to do decades ago, or is its aesthetic function now prevalent? These questions are the key point of the performance that doesn’t want to provide the answer but only encourages us to think about where and why are we here (in the theatre hall, under the stars).
Nina Rajić Kranjac’s Solo is something more than a performance. It’s an experience. It’s a ride. It’s a feast. It’s a four-hour fuck-you to theatrical tidiness. [...] It is self-exploratory and self-critiquing and self-indulgent yet, at the same time, it is also an intensely collaborative, intensely live experience, chaotic and ridiculous and beautiful and moving. [...] It’s hard to articulate the overall impact of the piece, it is a journey, a durational exercise for both performers and audience (past productions of the show talk of a six hour running time and I would have been up for that) a true communal experience, literally feeding its audience. It is intensely theatrical and incredibly exciting. Just really fucking exciting. Theatre as a living art form and a team sport, as an act of trust and risk, breathe and sweat, vulnerability and exposure, chaos and catharsis.
Here, the audience joins all previous realities, this turns the aesthetics of the political-personal outwards to public-political, and with that, an almost four-hour event manages, despite the prior pessimistic considerations about the purpose of theatre, to incite a collective alliance about the urgency of art. Even more so in these times, under this government, facing this virus.
This is a milestone production for the director, who in her tenth project fuses different positions and settings into a hybrid theatre form, tests what theatre as a medium allows, how to expand it, and how to use it to set newer and newer challenges for yourself.
Solo functions as a love letter to the theatre, to the spectators, to the actors, and to the supporters who formed Rajić Kranjac and brought her to where she is now. The critique of theatre, the questioning of its purpose, and the declaration of a pessimistic feeling of powerlessness when it comes to actually making a difference with theatre gestures at the same time create a theatre utopia that transforms itself into an anti-utopia, becoming a clear expression of devotion to the theatre – whatever it may be.
To leave one’s comfort zone enables the exploration and the understanding of a different perspective to both sides: to her who wants to experience everything that opportunity offers and lets her be guided but cannot help being herself every once in a while, and to them that guide her.
This is a particular 'recapitulation' of her work so far and her relationship to the theatre, which is, in this very point, marked by the eternal question about power(lessness) of art and consequently its point and meaning. The latter is of course elusive, which the production is well aware of, as it tackles its 'subject' on many levels, but with a pervasive ironic stance, as if it were some sort of a teasing case study, which in an informal atmosphere mixes performance art, improvisation and happening, and occasionally veers into more serious tones, but soon relaxes them into a playful string of (auto)biographical fragments, theatre anecdotes, inside jokes, quotes and self-quotes, but also different formative accents that in one way or another define the protagonist’s personality and work.
- Desiré Central Station, Subotica, Serbia, 27 November 2022
- Bitef, Belgrade, Serbia, 29 and 30 September 2022
- Maribor Theatre Festival, Slovenia, 10 June 2022
- Week of Slovenian Drama, Kranj, 29 March 2022 (performed in Ljubljana)
- Mladi levi Festival, Ljubjana, Slovenia, 21 August 2021
- 56th Bitef Grand Prix "Mira Trailović" Award (2022)
- Šeligo Award for best production at the 52nd Week of Slovenian Drama (2022)
- award for best actor to Benjamin Krnetić at the 52nd Week of Slovenian Drama (2022)
For artistic consultations, showing commentaries, video statements and creative insights we thank Goran Injac, Janez Janša, Tibor Hrs Pandur, Matej Recer, Blaž Šef, Nataša Živković, Bara Kolenc, Tibor Mihelič Syed, Dušan Kohek, Jaka Smerkolj Simoneti and all video participants (Nataša Živković, Bara Kolenc, Olja Grubić, Urša Vidic, Daniel Petković, Marko Brdnik, Dorian Šilec Petek, Gaja Teppey, Jože Udovč, Aoris Pasek Wallrugrey)