Season of community
2020/2021 — Season 65
Brina Klampfer, Kaja Blazinšek

Paloma

Directed by: Brina Klampfer
Co-production: Mladinsko Theatre, UL AGRFT and KUD Krik
Produkcija magistrskega programa Gledališka režija
Première: 21. 6. 2020
Cast
  • Director, Married Worker
  • Secretary, Worker
  • Iztok Drabik Jug
    Comrade, Worker
  • Tamara Avguštin
    Sales representative, Worker
  • Artist, Worker
  • Cleaning lady, Married Worker
  • Tadej Čaušević
    Drums
  • Liam Hlede
    Guitar
  • Marijan Sajovic
    Bass guitar
Credits
  • Idea and concept: Brina Klampfer
  • Dramaturgy: Kaja Blazinšek
  • Language consultant: Metka Damjan
  • Choreography: Sebastjan Starič
  • Set design: Zala Privšek, Aleksander Vujović
  • Costume design: Sara Smrajc Žnidarčič
  • Lighting design: Liam Hlede
  • Music selection: Brina Klampfer
  • Svetovalka za dramsko pisanje: Simona Semenič
  • Pomoč pri zasnovi dramskega besedila: Aleksander Vujović
  • Stage manager: Liam Hlede/Urša Červ

The staged version of the text was devised in collaboration with the actors and the language consultant. In the performance we used Srečko Serčič's poem Hrepenenje ob reki (Longing by the River) and Miran Perko's (Delaware) song Plava država (Blue State; adapted by Iztok Drabik Jug).

Mentors: Tomislav Janežič, M.A., Prof.; Janez Janša, Assist. Prof. (theatre direction); Blaž Lukan, Ph.D., Assist. Prof. (dramaturgy); Jasna Vastl, M.A., Assoc. Prof. (set design)

Description

The production will be based on the story of the Paloma – Sladkogorska factory, which produced sanitary paper products for the entire former Yugoslavia, and which is the reason that a town was built around it in the first place. It will navigate between the three eras in the life of the town. The seventies, when people were full of hopes and dreams and geared towards a better future. The nineties, when the system changed and they started to lose work to new technologies. And the present, when the discourse about the future is gone, the blocks of flats are deserted and young people mostly leave. Intimate stories open an array of topics, linked to the wider socio-political questions: How did the political projects of constructing towns influence the lives of people? What is the fate of a little person who found himself within an environment of a monoculture? And how to deal with this today?

In the media

The documentary aspects are linked to a subtle political commentary – the company’s life opens a window into the life of the town (which could also be interpreted as a secondary representative sample) in different political and economic regimes and countries (from the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, to Yugoslavia and ultimately to post-transitional Slovenia). […] Humour, especially at the beginning, touches upon toilet humour, which is linked to the 'Culture of Shit' in a singular Žižekian manner, suggesting that even the most banal topics (such as the type of toilet paper used or not used in a particular cultural environment) can lead to a detailed analysis of different and broader social phenomena. Direction is marked by a unique swarm of dramatic action, which is fast and often seems as if it’s out of control at the edges. This gives the impression of liveliness, authenticity and makes the play dynamic and diverse, which is furthered by flexible and harmonious acting. Paloma continuously and skilfully seeks balance between different ontological and thematic levels of the play. It is a balanced, broadly meaningful performance and, at the same time, a distinctly pleasant play to watch.

Paloma […] analyses the past based on documentary material about the rise of the factory, while the dramatisation takes into account various social strata, from the director, to the factory operations manager, workers, and the artist who provides a handsome corporate image. […] The dramatisation excels in portraying the lightness of growth and the darkness of personal tragedies. The time of rise and hope comes to an end with a transitional period of sales. An unravelling that is very familiar. In 2013 all three doves flew away from Paloma; since 2014 Paloma passed into foreign ownership.

Above all Paloma spectacularly intertwines intimate stories with a social reality during the span of 50 years, where one can observe a clash of different worlds – global and local, rural and urban […] Paloma lays bare completely what it means to convert the rural population into proletarians, to take their agricultural origins and globalise the town Sladki Vrh with toilet paper that was sold across Yugoslavia and around the world. The message of the youngest generation, who have listened to the stories of their parents or grandparents, is especially engaged and enthusiastic, surprisingly compassionate, but also critical both towards the past and the 'new new country' […] The actors are splendid, all six of them […], each with their own specific take on the Styrian dialect (great work by the language consultant Metka Damjan) that perseveres its strong rhythm and dynamic until the end. Constant changes in time, tonality, and dramatic action does not unnerve them. The director made an inventive bittersweet collage based on her knowledge of the local disposition, which does not seem provincial in the slightest on a Ljubljana’s stage, but comes to life as timeless and universal. She deals with the complex and layered topic convincingly and vigorously. Threading a fine line between ontology and politics, intimacy and publicity, she is never too obvious or banal.

Paloma as directed by Brina Klampfer, who is also the lead creator of the project and co-author of the text, narrates a story about a factory and by doing so opens up a wide array of topics and a myriad of possible perspectives, weights of contents, and approaches to staging. […] This results in a rather lively, aesthetically diverse, and easy to watch theatrical event […]. The source material is based on archives and personal stories that are remodelled to fates of anonymous, and quite possibly fictional, individuals who are linked to toilet paper production in some way or another. Their fates bring up questions about the invasion of the social (and political) into the intimate, about memory and the relationship to the past and nostalgia, the 'anthropology' or everyday life (such as culturally conditioned use of hygiene products), the role of art in society, about identity and so on. The performance extends over several decades through brief, emblematic, and often humorous scenes.

The director comes from Sladki Vrh; a small town where Paloma, the legendary toilet paper factory, is situated. The eponymous play explores the factory in a broader context. But the interpretation of historical facts about the factory only serves as a chronological frame. This is a compelling theatrical product that unites humour and nostalgia by opening a window into a socialist past, juxtaposing it with today’s capitalist supremacy. […] The artists demand deep concentration from the audience, but as the performance is so beautifully devised, that is really not a problem.

By addressing the audience, the actors break down the fourth wall as soon as they arrive on stage. From this moment on, the comic tone of the performance and its narrative style are set; both partly built by the documentary techniques of disseminating information and by dramatic fiction. […] The young artists wanted to portray their own views on the Yugoslav era, of which they heard so much about in their childhood. Despite the slight caricature of Yugonostalgia, the performance is objective enough to depict the splendour and the poverty of pink interfold tissues and white toilet rolls of Yugoslav everyday.

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Sponsors

Pokroviteljica predstave je Paloma, higienski papirji, d. d.

THANKS TO

Branka Nikl Klampfer, Matjaž Merčnik, Tone Partljič, Maks Kocbek, Miran Perko and Peter Rak.