Five years ago, they founded the first LGBTI theatre in Slovakia. The amateur ensemble has added other topics into their repertoire since then, such as violence against women or immigrants. The founder of NoMantinels, Andrej Kuruc, says that the controversial referendum has paradoxically improved the image of homosexuals in media.
At the beginning, there was an idea to create artistic space where human rights could be discussed. Their main topic is the rights of sexual minorities, but they are gradually starting to include gender equality, violence against women, problems of immigrants or hate speech on the internet.
“The reactions after the first performance Slabosi (Weaklings) were varied. We were happy that we even managed to do it,” says the founder Andrej Kuruc (aged 37) commenting the beginnings of No Mantinels. The amateur theatre ensemble was officially established five years ago, but all current members have been acting for a longer time.
During the former regime, performances of foreign homosexual artists were perceived as compromising, decadent and unacceptable. In Czechoslovakia, they were also considered illegal and subverting the socialist society.
Today, they represent liberation from traditional norms and create freedom for authors, script writers, actors and critically-thinking audience. “I wanted to give space to Slovak authors and young talented artists, ” explains Kuruc. Almost all plays are written by the ensemble.
We can talk so nicely, maybe it’s a start of a new friendship – says the actor Róbert Pakan to his colleague Roman Samotný in the play If Things Were What They Are… The story of two men and one woman won the first prize in the Drama 2005 contest.
In Slovakia, there are not many performances on LGBTI topics and the theatre is gradually adding more topics which are not talked about in the public. “We wrote a play on two women footballers, one is hiding her sexual orientation, the other one is not. Homophobia is present even in sports environment, ” reveals Andrej Kuruc. It is an attempt to look into the soul of a person struggling to express their personality in public and on the problems they must face in consequence.
Earlier this year, Slovakia was buffeted by the referendum of the Alliance for Family, which had organized a plebiscite on the ban of adoptions to couples of the same sex and sexual education at primary schools. In September, Slovakia will witness the second march for life and “traditional” family.
The founder of the LGBT theatre ensemble comments on the events with a detached view. “It is good that the discussion is lively. A few years ago, we were not talking about it at all, media did not pay any attention to the topic. ” According to him, even the controversial referendum has paradoxically improved the image of LGBTI community in the national media.
“Journalists look for stories and try to see the picture from both sides. Just before the referendum, they provided correct and objective information, ” he says. However, he also feels that homosexuality as a topic is not interesting for Slovaks, similarly to other discussions on human rights. “I think they accept us, but at the same time they say OK, just don’t express it publicly. ”
Saturday’s event of Radio Kiki taking place in the morning together with traditional markets in Stará Tržnica in the centre of the capital city proved him right. LGBTI community representatives organized their own event, several metres away from a performance of the Bratislava City Theatre for children. None of the parents had a problem with that.
This is also the aim of NoMantinels – to change the stereotypes rooted in the minds of people with art. Apart from Bratislava, they performed in Košice, Žilina or Topoľčany. “It is not easy to attract people if it’s not a comedy, ” sighs Andrej Kuruc, adding that reactions of the audience also depend on the region.
Apart from theatre performances, No Mantinels organizes Drama Queer festival, gathering performances focusing on LGBTI topic with an exhibition of photographs of parents with their LGBTI children and a literary contest.
Author: Rudolf Sivý 30.09.2015