Alexander Duchnovič Theatre in Prešov
Vasil Turok – the artistic director of the Dukhnovich Theatre in Presov,
Slovakia – has died.
On October 3rd – 6th, 2006, the third year of the international theatrical festival KAPAT FEST 2006 took place. It was financially supported by the Slovak Ministry of Culture and organised by the Friends of Alexander Dukhnovich Theatre Association and the Alexander Dukhnovich Theatre (DAD – Divadlo Alexandra Duchnovica) itself. Apart from the host theatre and the Jonas Zaborsky Theatre from Prešov, the following theatrical and dance groups performed at the festival: the dance group Blesk from Banska Bystrica, the Peter Riznic Theatre ĎAĎA from Rusky Kerestur (Serbia), the Wanda Sjemaszkowa Theatre from Rzseszow (Poland) and the Regional Ukrainian Musical-Dramatic Theatre of Olga Kobîlanska from Černivce (Ukraine).
As a part of the festival, apart from the performances on the stage of DAD, the theatrical group from Ukraine also performed for audiences in Bardejov and the actors from Rusky Kerestur gave a performance in Sabinov. The members of the theatrical groups spent the late evenings at discussion forums, which took place at the Fringe Stage of DAD and were entitled Pod reflektorom (In the spotlight).
– ak –
We can use this sentence to briefly characterise probably the most controversial and, at the same time, the most famous personality of the Rusyn Revival Movement, which started after the Velvet Revolution in 1989 – Vasil TUROK-HETEŠ.
On June 14th, 2006 (according to the secular calendar, Vasil celebrates his nameday on this day), a memorial plaque with this title was unveiled for this significant person in the New-Age ethnic life of Rusyns. The memorial was placed in a symbolic place – the restaurant Agát (Acacia) in Prešov.
At the ceremony of unveiling V. Turok´s memorial plaque, this portrait by Michal Rebej could also be seen. Miloš Karásek, an author, scriptwriter and the director of the theatre as well as the organiser of the event welcomed those in attendance and talked briefly about the significant personality of theatrical dramatic advising; followed by the honoured man´s son Roman Turok. Mrs Elena Turoková devoted her life to her husband and two sons. Although V. Turok was not a role model for family life, for him, she was a safe haven until the last day of his life, she understood his life´s mission and with unusual patience she tolerated his weaknesses. That is why we should thank her.
At the spot, Vasil Turok´s family, relatives and friends gathered as well as his close colleagues from the Dukhnovich Theatre, and also his “co-fighters” in the field of Rusyn revival process not only from Slovakia but also from abroad because his name is connected with these acivities in Slovakia. His personality is also closely related to the World Council of Rusyns, of which he was the Chairman for the first ten years; with the world congresses of Rusyns, the International Organisation Maisons de Pays and many activities that crossed the borders of the Slovak Republic. He was a man who, thanks to his rhetorical skills, was able to fight for his ideas and entice many Rusyns to his side. Few of them, at the time (just after the revolution), could plainly, clearly and explicitly form their ideas and plan the future of Rusyns in Slovakia as well as abroad...
.... The Alexander Dukhnovich Theatre (ADT) was granted the honour and good luck to have Vasil Turok, as also thanks to him the theatre started its uncertain, experimental journey, by which it broke through not only on the Slovak stages but also abroad. How does Miloš Karásek, the director and dramatic adviser of the theatre and the organiser of this event, look back at these years?
– The then director of ADT, Jaroslav Sisák, started a new era when he offered V. Turok the position of dramatic adviser. He was the catalyst needed to move the trend of the theatre to a higher level; to the theatre, he enticed dramatic advicers, directors and stage-designers such as Jozef Pražmári, Blaho Uhlár, but also me...
For Vasil Turok, the restaurant Agát became a part of his everyday life. Everybody who wanted to see him, knew they could find him there and he was ready to devote his time, answer their questions, discuss things and dispute various topics. He was actually some kind of informal discussion club for those who wanted to talk, who had something to say or who were looking for the answers to their questions.
Likewise, the meeting in Agát on Vasil´s nameday was natural, without any formalities. There were no pompous words, the people who wanted to come gathered, talked, discussed, remembered... Just like in the times of Vasil Turok-Heteš.
(Shortened, the full Rusyn version of the article can be found in the column “Театер“ on our website.)
Kvetoslava KOPOROVÁ, the photos of the author
Where? At the 60th anniversary celebration of the establishment of the Ukrainian National Theatre (which, since October 15th, 1990, has been called the A. Dukhnovich Theatre) in Prešov, the 50th anniversary of the Poddukelsky Ukrainian Folk Group, (now Poddukelsky Artistic Folk Group) and the 60th anniversary of the first premiere at the theatre entitled „Oj, ne chodî, Hrîc’u“ (Oh, Hric is not coming). These three jubilees are marked by the following dates: November 24th, 1945, December 6th, 1955 and March 2nd, 1946. They were all celebrated on one day - March 25th, 2006 – first in the big hall of the theatre, then in the Variety Show Hall in Prešov (above the Club cinema).
And what happened to the electricity? There were two power-cuts during the performances of the folk group Žobráci (Beggars) and PUĽS (the Poddukelsky Ukrainian Folk Group). This situation was wittily commented on by Michal Hudák, a member of Žobráci.
On the next days, though, we could see that it was no joke. When we were passing the building of the theatre, some electricians were mending the electricity to prevent any potential power-cuts in the future. Anyway, let’s talk about the day of celebration.
It commenced in the foyer of the theatre as a part of a photographic exhibition opening by speeches by Oleg Dlouhý, a member of the Theatrical Institute in Bratislava, Sylvia Hroncová, the Head of the same institution and Marián Marko, the Director of the A. Dukhnovich Theatre. The celebration continued In the main hall of the theatre where Jaroslava Sabolová-Sisáková and Jozef Michal, the presenters of the programme read commemorative letters, one of which was sent by Melánia Nemcová, a successful former choreographer of PUĽS (the whole letter is below). Consequently, Marián Marko, the Director of the theatre gave a speech (below) and Eva Arvajová, the Head of the Culture Department of the Prešov Self-Governed District, which has been financing the theatre. So much about the official part of the celebration.
I would like to mention again the exhibition of photographs of the theatre’s history, with the main focus on four honoured people who have passed away but who did a lot for the theatre and became famous – the actors Pavol Simko (born 7. 4. 1926 in Čukalovce and died 9. 12. 1981 in Prešov), Mikuláš Simko (born 7. 6. 1921 in Čukalovce and died 1. 4. 1982 in Prešov), Jozef Feľbaba (who was also the theatrical and administrative director of the theatre, born 12. 4. 1921 in Verbiaž in the Ukraine and died 2. 11. 1988 in Prešov). They were significant personalities to the theatre and it was the posthumous anniversaries of these four, which is why we celebrated seven jubilees. The author of the photographic exposition, O. Dlouhý, from the archive of the above institution talked with pride and emotion about the theatre and the honoured actors and reminisced about the memorable times he spent at the theatre with them. He also thanked the wives of the two late honoured actors, Anna Simkova and Mária Korbova (also former actresses of the theatre) and to Alexander Kučerenkov, J. Feľbaba’s son-in-law, who is a current actor at the theatre as well as to Jaroslav Sisák, a former actor and the theatrical and administrative director of the theatre, who loaned some of the photographs on display from their personal archives, which enriched the exhibition.
After the opening of the exhibition in the foyer of the theatre and the opening of the celebration on the main stage, a nice cultural programme started. Jana Maľová and Slavomír Benko, fellow collegues from the Jonáš Záborsky Theatre in Prešov, performed excerpts from some musicals followed by Ján Ivan and Štefan Turanský, drummers/dancers; the folk group Žobráci featuring the showman of the evening, Michal Hudák Jr.; a young singer/soloist Marianna Železná, and all the actors of the theatrical group of the A. Dukhnovich Theatre performed a short excerpt from the play ‘The Idiot’ by F. M. Dostoyevsky and finally the audience could enjoy the performance of singers and dancers of PUĽS. The audience showed their appreciation of the programme with long and sustained applause although interrupted by the above mentioned blackout in the hall. Nevertheless, the people were cheerful and happy and this is how they left the hall for the festive buffet and the final party in the Variety Show Hall above the Club cinema accompanied by merry music. I am probably not alone in having expected more from the theatrical group of the theatre, which is nowadays among respected professional theatrical groups not only in Slovakia but also abroad. They have performed a lot of successful premieres and residencies that positively surprised the most demanding viewer and theatre lover alike, even the notoriously ‘pampered’ Bratislava audiences. The theatrical group’s performance was very modest – the audience could only see a short excerpt from the play ‘The Idiot’. We all expected a dominating, excellent performance, the theatrical group is certainly capable of it.
The festive day became a festive evening, which for many finished early in the morning as everybody was having fun and it was hard to leave. But everything must end and so our celebration of the above mentioned jubiliees of the Rusyn Institute and Rusyns had to end too. And again, hard everyday work awaits everybody in the Alexander Dukhnovich Theatre in Prešov and the Poddukelsky Ukrainian Folk Group to prepare new performances to please the audiences in Presov and other towns and villages in Slovakia and abroad.
We wish all those who bring joy and enrich our spiritual lives as well as the Rusyn culture and culture in general to be able to continue in such a vein for many, many years to come.
A. Z., pictures from the author’s archive
of the Dukhnovich Theatre in Presov, Slovakia – has died.
… one of the first to, after 1989, realise that we can finally claim Rusyn as our nationality and our mother tongue. However, he not only realised that but also felt in his heart. He was a proud Rusyn from Habura at Medzilaborce, born in the depths of war – on January 8th, 1940.
After high school and university graduation in Bratislava, he came back to the East of Slovakia, where he worked as a teacher for a long period of time – first at the Secondary Comprehensive School on Revolucna street (nowadays called Dilongova), later at the Orthodox Theological Faculty in Presov. However, his most significant contribution can be seen in the process of the Rusyn revival, the renaissance of Rusyn identity and everything that went along with it. His contribution to dramatics is highly noticeable; especially his work as dramatic adviser, translator and director in the Alexander Dukhnovich Theatre, the only professional Rusyn theatre worldwide. He took part in the birth of the first Rusyn cultural-national organisation in the then Czechoslovakia – the Rusyn Revival; he was the first chairman of the World Council of Rusyns – the executive committee of the first international Rusyn organisation – the World Congress of Rusyns, where he was giving the lead for the development of Rusynism for the first ten hardest years in the world context……
A lot more could be written about Vasiľ Turok, maybe a whole book, but no words will bring him back to life, back to his relatives, friends and colleagues. All those who are going to miss him were taken by surprise by his sudden death on November 7th, 2005. Peace with you. “Vichnaya Tobi Pamyat, Vasilyu!”