The Extraordinary Season
2021/2022 — Season 66
Ivan Cankar

Scandal in the Valley of St Florian

Directed by: Vito Taufer
Revival form the season 2010/2011
Première: 6. 3. 2011
  • Dramaturgy: Nebojša Pop-Tasić, Tomaž Toporišič
  • Music: Andrej Goričar
  • Costume design: Barbara Stupica
  • Set design: Viktor Bernik
  • Choreography: Gregor Luštek, Rosana Hribar
  • Language consultant: Mateja Dermelj
  • Lighting design: Matjaž Brišar
  • Sound design: Silvo Zupančič
  • Make-up artist: Barbara Pavlin, Empera3zz
  • Assistant dramaturg: Anita Volčanjšek
  • Stage manager: Janez Pavlovčič

Today, in the beginning of the 21st century, when a century has long passed since this farce was created, Cankar’s Scandal in the Valley of St Florian remains exciting particularly because of its Dionysian flare and open form, but at the same time its exceptionally precise dissection of the psychopathology of Slovenian everyday life – at the same time the everyday life of Cankar’s space and time and of ours – joined together in the powerlessness of the perverted (neo)liberalism and provincialism. Cankar is our contemporary, because he resounds in our heads with his ethics and aesthetics, because the questions he asks are so fundamental, and the artistic answers he embodies so vivid. Vito Taufer, the grand master of authorial and living theatre readings of classics, stages Cankar’s “greatest mischief” about the upstanding patriots of St Florian Valley, shocked because of the “scandal” that “crept into the valley”, in the persons of the artist-turned-bandit Peter and his muse, Jacinta, on one hand as pungently realistic and follows the script almost to the letter, and on the other he provides a decisive deviation and gives all roles, bar one, to men, which becomes the “indispensable driving force of the performance” (Zala Dobovšek, Delo), thanks to which “nothing is what it appears to be and is therefore even more like it is” (Sonja Zlobko, Radio Študent).

In the media

Cankar knew alright. Cankar knew very well indeed. It doesn’t matter which one of his plays you read or see, you always face the astonishing realisation how current his dramas are. […] Cankar’s work is so strong that it holds in practically every possible interpretation (*cf. theatre history!). Of course, also the present one from the Mladinsko Theatre built under the skilful direction of the resident director Vito Taufer. The fundamental directorial shift: all the roles are played by men. All but one – the Devil is a woman. Even better: the Devil is neither, has no gender – is universal. […] All this only convincingly tells us that where even the Devil cannot take what rightfully belongs to the Devil, all we can say is: 'Just drop it, will you?'

(Andrej Jaklič, Polet, March 10, 2011)

[Taufer r]etains the textual wholesomeness, stylisation, and grotesque of the characters; he doesn’t narrow down their territory, but neither does he 'gratefully' expand it. He doesn’t plant the aggressiveness at any cost, but rather leaves it with some kind of museum mustiness within the framework of the original idea, as automatised prototype puppets. […] If Taufer’s staging remains consistent in the original sequencing of events and dialogue wholesomeness, the arbitrary intellectual interference then lives through the language of the relativism of gender identity, which the performance deliberately turns into a pointedly negligible drama moment. […] The transformation of male profiles into female thus has a function of duplicity; on the one hand, it is accepted as yet another natural phenomenon within the long perverted parochial society (and is therefore not explicitly problematised), and on the other, this very sneaky directorial concept becomes an indispensable driving force, without which the performance itself would soon slip under the weight of the superficial illustration of the literary script. Stage figures are accompanied by an incessant contortion, a fakeness, in short, acting 'in full', joined also by 'acting' within the drama sketch – as a source of the response to the foreign element in the 'immaculate' environment – which doesn’t let itself go until the finale.

Taufer’s directorial decision – looking far into the past, into the time of classical Greek theatre, when only men were hid behind the masks of male and female characters, to achieve comical effect is not a new approach, but it is effective. In Cankar’s farce, all the roles are thus cast by men, only the Devil is deftly played by an actress. […] Relevance permeating the text comes a surprise to the audience and forces them to think about unimagined dimensions of the repetitive pattern throughout the history.

Following Cankar, the revival of the Scandal also brings a reflection on the artist and her or his place in the society. Is today’s artist a bandit or the keeper of human dreams? Is the resolution of internal and external battles still possible in the art, or has the art been somehow corrupted, scandalised? The performance last night proved that the troubles Ivan Cankar faced are chillingly similar to the troubles today. A performance like this can thus bring the unwavering faith in progress – social, political, economical, personal – into question.

(Ana Rozman, Radio Slovenija, March 7, 2011)
Guest performances

  • Week of Slovenian Drama, Kranj, Slovenia, 1 April 2012
  • Maribor Theatre Festival, Maribor, Slovenia, 21 October 2011

  • Borštnik award for acting 2011 to Janja Majzelj for the role of the Devil
  • Borštnik award 2011 to Empera3zz and Barbara Pavlin for make-up design
Press downloads

The performance was selected in the catalogue of quality stagings on the platform Zlata paličica.