Opening November 2019
Gracious Quill Comedy Award 2018
Director Ajda Valcl
Iza Strehar, a playwright and screenwriter of the youngest generation of Slovenian theatre and film makers explores a pre-election off-stage political events as the main topic of her comedy People’s Choice. The play is a political satire that exposes ruthless power struggles and bargaining for positions, careers and finances in a dry and cynical style that presents the banality of callous trading with social relations in a way that is truly in-your-face. The author’s critical focus is directly aimed at excessively simplified characters, and indirectly at the theatre viewers that can easily recognize themselves in the role of the general public here and now, assessing the current and future politicians according to their popularity. By so doing, the voters unwittingly take part in a vicious circle of inanity and narrow-minded pettiness presented on stage.
According to the jury panel for the national Gracious Quill Comedy Award, »two influential and anonymous shady figures from the background choose a suitably pliable »nobody« for a presidential candidate and begin to train him to stand and win the upcoming elections. In their endeavours they do not refrain from anything. Everyone randomly caught in their game, including journalists and university professors, turn out to be sycophants, grovelers, backscratchers who can be easily bribed with no scruples. However, the price they pay, as this is a comedy, or, more precisely, a political satire, is bizarrely funny. Instead of money, influence and power, they wish to enter the world of art and become good and famous poets allowing then to gain immortality. The project is a failure, because the candidate is unable to carry out his tasks adequately. In the end, however, he himself chooses art over politics too.
Strehar’s witty political satire, not very often seen in Slovenia, deals with parochial tribal ties and cronyism that makes everything possible. It is possible to alter every single public tender, to dupe every journalist, to bribe every critic, to influence every medium. Throughout the parody, only a young girl, the presidential candidate’s daughter, remains adamant in her feminist position, bravely defying the sexist male matrix and holding unwaveringly her position of a macho female fighter for her rights.
The play ridicules lobby networks, the media, influential associations, short-term success and fame generated by the media, influential decision makers, and the emergence of so-called new faces, sexism, and fascination with the cure-for-all new age recipes for a healthy life.
Even though we like to pride ourselves that Slovenian drama is based on Cankar’s political comedy, it is rare for new and up-and-coming authors to tackle these topics. Therefore, it is even more laudable that, after a long time, we have been presented a political satire, mocking current events that determine us and exploring our reality, society and milieu in a critical and entertaining way.«