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Northern Lights. Erdman.Intermedia performance, length 100 min

Photo by Matej Povše
This production of one of the foundational narratives of Slovenian literature, Drago Jančar's novel Northern Lights (1984), is a collaboration between Imaginarni and Lutkovno gledališče Ljubljana. The stage interpretation of the novel will take place in two autonomous but interconnected processes.

In September 2022, the novel will be presented in an intermedia, site-specific performance set in the abandoned industrial environment of the Cukrarna Palace, focusing on scenes from the novel that require a more visual approach. In March 2023, the extended creative team will meet again with the novel in the Linhart Hall of Cankarjev dom, where they will prepare a drama production based on the author's dramatisation of the novel.

Jančar's Northern Lights is about Josef Erdman, a Maribor-born foreigner who arrives in Maribor by train early in the morning of 1 January 1938 to meet the co-owner of the firm J. Štastny & co. But the host never appears. Josef stays in a hotel and meets new people, including Franjo Samsa, a member of "better society". When Erdman meets his wife Marjetica, he falls in love with her and decides to stay in his home town. Apart from his new love, he is also bound to Maribor by his desire to find the church where the saint with the blue orb in his hand, whom he remembers from his childhood, is buried. Later, his beloved Marjetica is brutally murdered by his drinking buddies, while he himself falls into alcoholism. When he finally finds the church he has been searching for, he experiences a night when the northern lights illuminate the city and his mind finally gives up the ghost.

This stranger is a projection of the city and the hysterical times just before the outbreak of the Second World War. In the city where he was searching for his roots, he experiences a disintegration of his personality, just as the world around him simultaneously experiences a moral collapse and then the worst cataclysm ever. In the novel, Jančar describes the collapse of the individual and the world with equal attention and at the same time. The production, set in the abandoned Cukrarna complex, takes this statement as a starting point to question the (escape) attempts of the various elements and especially the characters of the story from the coming cataclysm. Partly before the one on which the novel is based and partly before the one we are staring at today in the nottoo distant future.

The performance explores the story of flight, mental escape and loss by combining different performance expressions, languages and strategies: Puppet and object theatre, dramatic theatre, the language of strong visual imagery, expression through conceptual art, video and music. The symbiosis of performance poetics creates a multitude of languages in which the actors use their own instruments - sound, language and the body, but also objects and different kinds of puppets. The foundation and starting point on which the performance is based is certainly the power of words and images that Jančar's novel and its dramatisation bring.

The stage adaptation of the text is based on the novel Northern Lights by Drago Jančar and its dramatic adaptation prepared by the author himself for the first performance of the novel at the Slovene National Theatre Maribor in 2005.

Primož Ekart, actor, theatre director and producer, graduated in acting from AGRFT in Ljubljana. He has appeared in more than 80 theatre productions, several feature films, TV series, radio plays and street theatre performances. Recently he has concentrated mainly on theatre directing. At Lutkovno gledališče Ljubljana, he created the hit performance Brainstorm(2017) and The Yellow Moon (2020) with a young creative team as part of the Theatre Lab, and for an adult audience he directed the poetic production Invisible(2021).

In 2016, he founded Imaginarni, an institute for cultural activity, where he has staged some of his most acclaimed and award-winning performances. In 2012, his production of the feast or the story of a savoury corpse or how roman abramovič, the character janša, julia kristeva, aged 24, simona semenič and the initials z.i. found themselves in a tiny cloud of tobacco smoke won the Rudi Šeligo Award as well as the Audience Award at the 42nd Week of Slovenian Drama Festival. It also won the Slovenian Association of Theatre Critics and Theatrologists Award for the best production of the 2011/12 season. The play Europa won the Marul Prize for Artistic Achievement at the Marulić Days in Split and was included in the competition programme of the Maribor Theatre Festival (2015). Helplessnesswon the Grand Prize for the best production of the festival at the 52nd Maribor Theatre Festival as well as the prizes for acting (Nik Škrlec) and set design (Damir Leventić). Imaginarni's last two productions were also included in the competition programme of two Slovenian festivals: this apple, made of goldat the 50th Slovenian Drama Week in Kranj and Živela vulva! at the Days of Comedy in Celje. Imaginarni creates its shows in collaboration with the most important Slovenian theatre institutions such as Cankarjev dom, SNT Drama Ljubljana, Lutkovno gledališče Ljubljana, Mini teater, Prešeren Theatre Kranj and Ljubljana City Theatre.

Opening: 8 & 9 September 2022, Cukrarna Palace (Ambrožev trg 3, 1000 Ljubljana)

Co-production: Lutkovno gledališče Ljubljana and Imaginarni 

Author: Drago Jančar
Direction and stage adaptation: Primož Ekart
Set design: Meta Grgurevič
Costume design: Tina Kolenik
Choreography: Rosana Hribar
Lighting design: Andrej Hajdinjak
Sound and music design: Darja Hlavka Godina
Video design: Vesna Krebs
Dramaturgy: Benjamin Zajc
Language guidance: Maja Cerar
Puppet technology: Zoran Srdić
Photography: Matej Povše
Cast: Asja Kahrimanović Babnik, Maja Kunšič, Zala Ana Štiglic, Gašper Malnar, Jan Bučar, Martin Mlakar as guest, Andraž Jug as guest
Stage management: Damir Radončić
Head of lighting and lighting design assistant: Maša Avsec
Video management: Izidor Kozelj
Production: Alja Cerar Mihajlović
Stagehands: Stanko Božanić
Warderobe supervision and costume design assistance: Nataša Konić
Puppets and set making: Zoran Srdić, Olga Milić
Costume making: Krojaštvo Marko Habinger, Tina Kolenik, Sandra Birjukov, Monika Colja
Special thanks to: Uredništvo pričesk Robert and Damir Leventič