The theater is one of the oldest arts in human history. Therefore, some people already became biased about it taking into consideration only the classics and thinking of it as some boring activity. In fact, theater evolutional a long time ago, and now we have such a variety of attractive performances that it is really hard not to find something that you will like.
Ana Monro Theater is definitely such an example. It is one of the oldest independent alternative theater groups in Slovenia. During their lifespan, they did a bunch of amazing things, including Ana Desetnica International Street Theatre Festival, School of Contemporary Performative and Street Arts, Street Arts Winter Academy, and produced more than 50 plays.
In general, Slovenia has a long theater history. Moreover, national identification was raised in close relationship with the evolution of the playwriting in the Slovene language as well as the Slovenian theater itself. This dates back to the 18th century, when the first written play in Slovene, Zupanova Micka by Anton Tomaz Linhart, a playwright, and historian from Carniola, was published and premiered to the public. It influenced the mass identity of Slovenians, even in the times where there was no Slovenia as a state, and the Slovene language wasn’t recognized as a language.
Since then, it has passed a lot of time, but the Slovenian theater evolved into a variety of kinds including classic theater, theatre sports, physical theater, street theater, puppetry, and many others.
Who Is Ana Monro?
According to the opening page on the official website of the theater, Anna Monro was just a woman living in Ljubljana of the 1930s. She was working in the tobacco factory during the day and dancing striptease at night. However, she met the love of her life one day. It was Dr. Sergej Lev, a not famous local writer, member of a literary club. Her love was so strong that she moved to the forest and lived there until 1982. After that, she founded Ana Monro Theater, the one that combines circus and literary theatre, two activities that she was a professional in.
Of course, this story is a myth, however, it represents the idea of the group and the feeling of their performances. The theater was established in 1981 by poet and actor, Andrej Rozman Roza, and interdisciplinary artist, Marko A. Kovačič. Their main directions were live improvisation, music, and humor theater. Soon enough, Ana Monro Theater became a famous pioneer in caustic humor, later their style became well-known as the Monró humor. They used collective work, the involvement of the audience, and a wide range of references to create the decent performances nobody saw before.
From that time, the activities of such a small group transformed tremendously. Of course, the main core, art, has left. However, there were added a lot of new ones such as the promotion of the street theater on the international arena, education of young people, and organization of art festivals.
The group defines their mission as “…to continuously use, explore, and develop the public space as a place of artistic creativity, performances, education, communication, and connection, and also as a place for relaxation or gatherings, and cooperation among people,” with the vision of transforming public places into opened to art and people public spheres of peace and enjoyment.
The key members of the theater are Borut Cajnko, Mojca Dimec, Primož Ekart, Janez “Johnny” Habič, Breda Krumpak, Drago Milinović, Matjaž Ocvirk, Goro Osojnik, Žiga Saksida, Sebastjan Starič, and Gorazd Žilavec. The group produced more than 50 plays throughout the lifespan of almost 40 years. The full list of plays, you can check at their official site: https://www.anamonro.si/en/historyofproduction/
Ana Desetnica International Street Theatre Festival
The festival was the first try of Ana Monro Theater to create something more than a performance. They organized it in 1998 for the first time, and since then, it became the main and the most artistic festival of Slovenia. Now, it is held annually in late June or early July in over 10 cities of Slovenia! Mainly, the festival offers all kinds of street art by professionals as well as gives the stage for talented newbies in the field.
The festival gathers 40,000 visitors every year. On the stage, the number of performers varies from 250 to 400 artists, 60 percent of which are international guests. The festival highly encourages experimentation among disciplines as well as the improvisation performances. Ana Desetnica already presented more than 5,000 artists from more than 40 countries from 6 continents.
The Ana Desetnica International Street Theatre Festival cooperates with a number of theater projects, including Circostrada, Eunetstar, and Meridians, which means approximately 30 countries!
In general, the festival changed the image of an art street theater in the minds of local people. Aside from performances and other kinds of street art, it provides other valuable activities. One of those is the “Talks with artists” rubric, hosted by Samo Oleami, a famous critic and dramaturge.
Since 2017, they started urbANA ljubljANA / URBana LJUBLJana International Award of Excellence, where they encourage the most talented performers with prizes and public love. Therefore, it raised the festival to the new level, bringing a little bit of competition.
Also, Ana Monro Theater created two smaller ones, the winter festival Ana Frost holding since 2000, and the autumn one Ana Blaze holding since 2009. The first one is dedicated to winter holidays and happens each year just before the New Year celebration. The festival invites different domestic and international authors and groups as well. The program is presented in Maribor and Radovljica on other days.
This includes colorful programs, artistic street theatre, and circus. Since 2017, the festival has moved to the newly renovated Špica, an improvising stage.
The second younger sister of the Ana Desetnica International Street Theatre Festival is the Ana Blaze Festival or Ana Plamenita. It firstly appeared on the 13th of June 2009 at the Ljubljana Castle. This is the festival of night and fire. Thus, a lot of light street art exhibitions opened in the embankments of the Ljubljanica and Gradaščica rivers, a courtyard of a mansion in Moste, the Šišenski hrib Hill, Špica, and some other places.
School of Contemporary Performative and Street Arts
In 2007, Ana Monro Theater started educational activities. The group founded ŠUGLA, a school of contemporary performance and street theatre, where they provide training and courses on improvisation, theater, and other kinds of performances. This continued in 2011 when they co-founded the first international conference in the field of street art called SAWA – Street Arts Winter Academy. In 2015, they initiated the creation of the European Federation of Education and Training in Street Arts.
ŠUGLA is a non-formal educational and training field. Thereby, the instructors and mentors provide a lot of personal experience theory and connect it with the practice directly “in the field”. The education here consists of four levels, which include 14 weeks of training. The examination requires the creation of a theatre performance, presented at the International Street Theatre Festival Ana Desetnica.
The mentors are Slovenian, as well as some international experts in the fields of street production. They share the knowledge on the topic of how to improve performative skills and learn about the laws of art created in the public spaces. This is the school not only for actors or people who wanna be actors. This is the school for any type of artist starting from musicians and to some avantgard kind of arts.
- GORO OSOJNIK – artistic director and head of Ana Monro Theatre
firstname.lastname@example.org / +386 41 723 146
- ANKICA RADIVOJEVIĆ – producer, administrator, and organizer
email@example.com / +386 40 866 388
- SARA ŠABEC – educational leader of ŠUGLA and educational cultural and artistic project manager
firstname.lastname@example.org / +386 41 889 001
- TEA VIDMAR – project manager of international cooperation
email@example.com / +386 31 578 501
- LEJA FORŠTNER – public relations person and social media manager
firstname.lastname@example.org / +386 31 546 234
Let’s Play It!
Ana Monro Theater played not only in an incredible amount of performances but played an inevitable role in forming of the Slovenian street art, especially in the Slovenian street theater. Those people started their activity in Yugoslavia, representing the freedom of art. After that, the group produced such projects as Ana Desetnica International Street Theatre Festival, School of Contemporary Performative and Street Arts, Street Arts Winter Academy, and some others.
It is obvious that those people are famous in their own Slovenia. Every citizen of Ljubljana or any other big city in the country saw them playing at least once in life. Because, everybody is walking along the streets. Therefore, everybody is walking on their stage.
Moreover, Ana Desetnica International Street Theatre Festival had an incredible impact on promoting street art. It let people understand the beauty of it. That’s why every Slovenian can be recognized as a bit of an art expert.
So it can be you as well. Visiting one of the biggest street art festivals of Europe, Ana Desetnica International Street Theatre Festival will be a great possibility to get acquainted with alternative theater and get some inspiration.