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Timbuktu, TimbuktuTheatre poetry, length 35 min

Photo by Jaka Varmuž
Timbuktu is where you get burnt and someone offers you a poultice before you say ouch!

Timbuktu is a city in northern Mali, once considered the centre of learning, tolerant conversation and great mysteries. In his picture book Timbuktu, Timbuktu (Miš Publishing, 2019), which won the 2020 Kristina Brenkova Award for the best original Slovenian picture book, Peter Svetina takes this city as a premise for a collection of short stories and poems. Seemingly unconnected "shorts" make you laugh, spark your imagination and offer a new perspective on the order of things. Forty-three short texts are open-ended in meaning and rich in imagery and wit. They take us into a chaotic world that is a wonderful tribute to the imagination.

The eponymous puppet performance follows this open form of understanding diverse motifs, associative chains and flashes and takes us through the transformation of the everyday into the playful. The protagonists are children who set off after school on a journey to the mysterious Timbuktu. Along the way, they meet Aunt Frančiška who is swinging with the stars, a grandpa who is gathering clouds, a lady who has drunk her coffee and other wacky characters, with whom they discover and learn about a town where "one bun grows and one tomato always ripens for everyone". Table puppets, various objects, musical instruments and three actors on stage create a dynamic adventure that leads us through crazy, imaginative and sometimes nonsensical stories. Because Timbuktu is where you play.

The visual design of the production was prepared by the renowned illustrator Igor Šinkovec, who also did the artwork for the first edition of the picture book, in collaboration with the director, set designer and costume designer. The images from the picture book come to life on stage in all their colourful spectacle of children's play and imagination. Timbuktu, Timbuktu will thus unfold across the stage as a kind of staged bonsai, full of content, reflection and imagination, inviting us to reflect sensually on our everyday lives and interpersonal relationships. Or as the author himself writes: "Timbuktu is where there is someone who loves you."

The production uses quotes from Ciciban (December 2020 edition).

Poet, writer, playwright, translator and literary historian Peter Svetina is certainly one of the most versatile authors of contemporary Slovenian youth literature. He has been awarded several prizes for his literary work, and this year was nominated for the Andersen Prize, the highest international award in the field of young adult literature. His unusual literary quirks, full of warm humour, subtle poetry and playful absurd twists, stimulate the reader's imagination at the level of content and language, and open up a new views on the everyday relationships, persons, things, phenomena and events. At the level of the message, the optimistic faith in positive essence of humans is particularly characteristic of the author.

Nika Bezeljak is a director currently living and working in Maribor. She started her professional directing career at the SNG Nova Gorica with the production of Andraž Golc's The Ducks, based on the novel The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger. She has directed around 20 independent projects to date, and is also a producer and a member of the artistic collective of the GT22 Community, the GT22 Intimate Stage and the artistic leadership of Momento and the Prestopi/Crossings International Festival of Independent Performing Arts.

Igor Šinkovec (1978) is an illustrator, animator and intermedia artist. He is self-employed in culture and works with publishing houses at home and abroad. He works mainly in book illustration, occasionally also in animation. Among other things, he created the short animated film Egon Klobuk a few years ago and provided the artwork for the Professor Florijan Umek series of educational games at the Museum of Natural History in Ljubljana. He illustrates mainly for children and young adults. Among the books, we should also mention the illustrations in the award-winning book From Genes to Stars by Saša Dolenc and The Hunt for the Templar Treasure by Milan Petek-Levokov.

Premiere 29 April 2022, LGL Small Stage

Peter Svetina
Direction and adaptation: Nika Bezeljak
Artistic design: Igor Šinkovec
Scenography: Nika Zuljan
Costume design: Nina Čehovin
Music: Samo Kutin and Ana Kravanja
Dramaturgy: Benjamin Zajc
Lighting design and management: Kristjan Vidner
Proofreading: Maja Cerar
Puppet technology: Zoran Srdić, Olga Milić
Performers: Miha Arh, Aja Kobe, Polonca Kores
Stage Manager: Aca Ilić
Producer: Alja Cerar Mihajlović
Stage Technician: Iztok Vrhovnik
Wardrobe: Nataša Konić
Making of puppets, set, costumes and musical instruments: Zoran Srdić, Olga Milić, David Klemenčič, Sandra Birjukov, Monika Colja, Zlatko Djogić, Katarina Planinc, Laura Krajnc, Uroš Mehle, Samo Kutin, Igor Šinkovec, Nina Čehovin