HERO 1.0


We’re evaluating: Hero 1.0 / Nika Arhar, Delo, October 17 2014

Hero 1.0
Uroš Kaurin, Vito Weis
The Mladinsko Theatre; Moment Association

We rarely experience such relaxedness on stage as one mediated by Uroš Kaurin and Vito Weis, who tackled the copyrighted project on the topic of heroism in today’s world in a »heroic« manner: as the authors of the concept and text, as performers and as directors.

The sense of relaxation stems from the position of the performers, who are addressing the audience from a semi-private sphere, and from the appearance of child’s play as well as the creative replaying and varying of the few scenes as the basic principle of stage action. Hero 1.0 seems to be a story of two kids who turn their fascination with action film heroes into a life enterprise – a special business and special approach to the world, which reveals social critique through envisioning an alternative pattern of social action.

Using strong references to pop culture and some popular social phenomena, they position themselves into the egotistically, individualistically and money oriented reality with their own line of work – their own branch of heroes on call. The first episode of their theatre series (consider 1.0 in the title) presents the emergence of heroes in today’s world through dilemmas and obstacles conquered by the belief in the rightness of one’s choice, a strong determination and the support experienced within a duo.

Images of heroes in today’s world are constructed through a series of episodes. These are first composed quite loosely in an impulsive burst of any new activity, but what follows is a clear twist with the question of how all these activities actually make sense, and with the final single-minded focus on the attainment of the set goal. Hero 1.0 constantly vaccilates between parodying action film heroes and asserting the idea of the human capacity to break through despondency and passivity – where the goal is the active transformation of the world into a kinder place.

The emulation of images and codes of behaviour pertaining to pop-culture heroes derives from a fascination with youth idols, at the level of inner logic, but it also shrewdly exploits, with the language of the stage, the melodrama and pathos, exaltation and emotionality of the pop culture of heroism. We should also note that the performance is a joint effort of more than two people: video (Boris Bezić, editing Jan Lovše), music (Lea Čehovin, JAMirko, Marijan Sajovic), visual image (son:DA), light (David Cvelbar) and choreography (Gregor Luštek).

Kaurin and Weis are witty and innovative in their treatment of the images of today’s heroes, but the basic purpose of their appearances on the stage remains blurry. The social critique delineated in the few initial episodes eventually fades with the numerous quips and gimmicks aimed toward the completion of the heroes’ goal.

Although they are implicitly constantly appealing to people to take an active role and outgrow the position of outsiders, observers and commentators, they are, for the most part, merely insisting on this thesis, richly overlaying it with funny incidents. The transposition of the black-and-white mentality of the idealised filmic heroism, with the goal of »good« deeds in the field of the real, is not fully formed. The complexity of heroic life is reduced to decisiveness, courage and action, but, in terms of content, its representation is tentatively wavering across the suggested mutually exclusive values of camaraderie, ideological appeals and extreme violent solutions.

The most viable result of opening up this problematic is the dilemmas that, in particular episodes, break through the stereotypicality of heroic idols and present the ways in which heroism is (im)possible in the present day and age. There is also perceivable charm in the scenes where the two performers express heroism by transcending the normative theatre and life patterns and images, but these scenes are not well integrated into the whole (too sharp cuts make them seem like a foreign body).

The main line and the driving desire of the performance thus remain unclear. They do not really open the question of what heroism supposedly means today. Despite the distinct dynamism of Hero 1.0, the undeniable energy with which it is performed, and the cohesion of stage elements, the whole feels too ephemeral, although it is a very amusing whole indeed. We are certain that the young audience will welcome the performance with enthusiasm.

We’re evaluating: Hero 1.0 / Nika Arhar, Delo, October 17 2014

A Hero On Call / Nenad Jelesijević, Radio Študent, November 25 2014

To tackle a theatrical treatment of heroism today probably has not been an easy task for Uroš Kaurin and Vito Weis, who co-created a copyrighted project dealing with a very contemporary concern. They started with a decision to make a performance from an experiment or rather through the process of onstage practice, in which they gradually arrived at the idea and its concrete form on stage. They created the concept, the text, and – as they themselves claim – did the “almost directing”. With the dramaturgical assistance by Katarina Stegnar, Hero 1.0 thus came into being.

The performance consists of numerous scenes, perhaps too many, which leave an impression that the protagonists’ thoughts on the topic of heroism are based primarily on moral dilemmas and personal existential questions, yet, simultaneously, they also seem to be based on the attempt to think through the predicaments bogging down contemporary society. The way they approached the problem could be described, on the level of form, as predominantly exhibitionist, and this turns out to be an excellent starting point, co-shaping and emphasising the language of two “heroic bodies”. The bodies of the actors stay in a continuous dialogue, which is both verbal and non-verbal. Their intense dialogue establishes a distinctive and indubitably identifiable language of this performance.

This piece starts off with a video projection in the form of the introductory credits – and a very communicative video trailer, which feels like the beginning of a film, and finishes in a similar fashion, with an excellent short video. The heroes appear for the first time in the introductory video, which uses somewhat abstract images to suggest an atmosphere which is later only partially translated into events on stage. This filmic dimension of the performance, which is playing with the medialised notion of heroism, could be highlighed even more strongly, or could be incorporated more tightly into the whole.

A mobile phone is put in the forefront, serving as the key linking element. Throughout the performance, it remains at the centre of action, and appears to be a fetishised object. The tandem of heroes owns a business that offers the service of “a hero on call”. The entrepreneurial heroes are constantly trying to be as productive and as responsive as possible, since responsiveness is the prerequisite of a successful business. They do not take this lightly; they are working almost obssessively on improving their responsiveness. They are putting a lot of effort into attaining physical fitness, better reflexes and even greater speed. They are focused on the way they answer the phone, with attention to minutest detail, stressing the absurdity of this behaviour through gags. Such efforts form the central and probably also a slightly too exaggerated axis of onstage action.

The actors’ choreography is based on jumps, sudden appearances, entrances and exits from the left and right side of the stage, which turns out to be an effective solution, as it conjures up the myth of the flying supermen. There is a lot of movement in the performance, which merges with fragments of personal impressions, confessions and also imagery formed through the direct use of the body. One of the confessions aiming to trigger a leap in critical thinking begins something like this: “In the land of no hope … where governments force people into poverty … where rampant corruption and fraud are normal means of reaching a goal…” This is a well-known topic that clearly calls for action – it is time for a hero.

The transformation of the whole stage into a gym, which the protagonists diligently use to their benefit, further underlines the heroes’ movement and their top physical condition. However, probably the most radical response to the need for heroism is offered in the scene of “the love dance”, when they totally surrender to taking pleasure in each other and letting go of rivalry which seems to be constantly in the air at other times. When the heroes undress and allow themselves to feel the flow of emotions and sexual desire, they actually stage a radical answer to the enforced concept of heroism. From the perspective of the economy of the spectacle, that concept is nothing but a subtly enforced dictate of submission, stardom, success and, consequently, of a society based on inequality. Their love dance symbolically breaks the vicious circle of constant activity, which is enforced from above, and ceaseless efforts to achieve egotistic success, actually suspending the deadening circle of working at any cost, which enables mere survival.

During the performance’s central scene, we can hear the song “The Hero Lies in You”, which evokes the other side of heroism, the one that can be understood as a need for self-realisation, living out one’s own desires and needs, or the aspiration towards reaching independence and the ability to organise one’s own life autonomously.

Hero 1.0, as a performance created as a process, from scratch, from reflection and lots of rehearsal, shows a great acting potential and also reveals a great performative potential of its protagonists. Those of its elements which emphasise a more performative way of thinking – by that we are hinting at its less acted, less theatrical aspects –, for example elaborate “mutual tangles” and experiments with the naked body, singing and physical training, would certainly deserve an even greater emphasis. There is also room for a greater intertwinement with some of the already highlighted acting moments, such as, for instance, the excellently performed and indeed funny exercises on the theme of different “cool” ways of taking a phone call.

In this regard, a certain economy with “redundant” (multiplied) or drawn-out scenes would contribute to the performance’s (otherwise laudably highlighted) signification dynamics: it seems that the desire for “as much as possible” leads to diluting the focus of the leading idea. The announcement of the performance seemed to communicate a wish to speak to the audience from a particular critical viewpoint. But at some point, we catch ourselves asking what do the protagonists really, personally, think about the idea of heroes. Perhaps a clearer and radicalised personal message (opinion) would help create a more refined political dimension of the performance. This would make for less confusion, one caused especially by the constant focus on what others – society or the audience in the hall – believe about heroism.

The unique announcement of the happy end which we get to hear in the very beginning, and its realisation in the final song performed by the heroes, turns out to be an interesting unifying element, which also does away with the potential risk of pathos. At the end of the performance, there is an announcement of its sequel, which might go down even more heroically. We should not just wait and see how things go as regards the content of the sequel; instead, we are encouraged to keep training our personal hero, which is the crucial message of this happy end. In we happened to miss the key message, we would like to ask the heroes to spare us their antichrist slap; also because they taught us, during the performance, the basics of self-defense.

A Hero On Call / Nenad Jelesijević, Radio Študent, November 25 2014

HERO 2.0 – The Show of All Shows


Heroically whimsical decomposition of an actor / Rok Bozovičar, Dnevnik, February 28 2018

There is no doubt that the second part of the theatre series Hero by Vito Weis and Uroš Kaurin is an ultimate performance. It is actually humbly subtitled as “the performance of all performances”. It correspondingly consists of the “monologue of all monologues”, the “dialogue of all dialogues”, surprising twists, theatre tricks, personal (and bodily) exposure, and the ideal audience. But do not let any of this mislead you: Hero 2.0 truly is the performance of all performances.

If Hero 1.0 in 2014 was focusing on heroism and good deeds, the thematic charge that the authorial tandem Weis-Kaurin was interested in could also be located outside the auditorium. Hero 2.0 is searching for its subject matter and material inside the auditorium, the heroism is not discussed explicitly because the object of interest becomes the performance itself – feedback, theatre that turns into itself, but also has an ear for the external, not-theatre-related audience; although the self-reflective turn demands decisiveness, the performance is in no way suggesting that the shift to the stage caused the heroism to move there.

The uniform beginning (Kaurin and Weis hand out tickets and tear them, hang coats) is followed by another stage beginning as they throw off their clothes. Naked as the stage, mute as the light. How to start a performance? To step on the stage is not that easy, to start speaking even a bit harder. Therefore the return to the very starting point – the conclusion of the formal educational process at AGRFT (the Academy) – is a reasonable launching point. The beginner’s enthusiasm and the naive idealism (and pretentiousness which makes everyone uncomfortable when reading the sentences from their academic years) that rushes from the excerpts from their diploma theses lead to the presentation of their acting skills, knowledge, abilities. In their competitiveness they are even ready to go beyond, too near and too far, because the goal is more than worth it. The goal counts. The goal is a “performance”.

Not a small, ordinary, everyday performance, but the performance of all performances. And if that sounds as if it is the best, then we need to clarify this a bit. Hero 2.0 is the performance of all performances in the light of other performances; it includes and touches every performance because it stages the skeleton of each and every one of them. It plays with the form that determines the perception of a monologue, dialogue, body or other theatre cornerstones without attaching any concrete content to it. The content appears in the second part when Kaurin and Weis intensify the rivalry by poking into sensitive, private points of the actor’s ego. So they move from the initial idealism into the realistic acting world. With the demystification of the acting behaviour and theatre-making they provide a dynamic boost to the empty form (it can seem as an exercise in style) on the one hand, and the direct addressing of acting on the other; at the same time they introduce a relaxed, whimsical communication mechanism that, with rare stops, persists until the end.

The final story about the happy prince could actually emphasise the dedication, the complete submission and giving demanded by (each) performance. And if we, faced with the fundamental assumptions, sense a slight lack of sense of such behaviour, Hero 2.0 is actually about this lack. About the self-evident unconditional wish, inherent in acting, whose symptom is the theatrical tautology: theatre is… a performance.

Heroically whimsical decomposition of an actor / Rok Bozovičar, Dnevnik, February 28 2018

The upgrade of hero / Varja Hrvatin, Radio Študent, March 3 2018

We enter the Španski borci Culture Centre. Vito Weis, in the role of a cloakroom attendant, takes our coats, Uroš Kaurin, in the role of an usher, rips our tickets. A mobile phone rings and the heroes run to the rescue. They find the source of the irritating ringing. They pick a volunteer from the audience who has to photograph them with a flash. They pull two tiny hammers out of the handy chest pockets of their heroic outfit, and they massacre the disruptive devices to total destruction, discreetly and passionately, with repressed anger. They sweep off their remains apathetically and … darkness.

After an almost three-year pause, Vito Kaurin and Uroš Weis – yes, this is not a mistake – reinhabit their heroic poses in the roles of upgraded heroes. These heroes do not problematize the idealized concept of the hero as an action hero, as this time they tend to, somewhat in the manner of MandićStroj (MandićMachine), stick to the metatheatrical textual foundation, which is opening up the field of playing with the art of acting, exploiting the physicality of the acting range and speech as well as problematizing the machinery of theatre.

The actors return naked to the theatre hall; physically uncovered, as they will continue to lay themselves bare metaphorically and metaphysically for another hour. The actors create the construct of their theatre inside a small underground hall, whose modesty and small size reflect the lovely commitment, honesty and enthusiasm of the acting duo. A miniature stage, a mixing table, a microphone and a fog-machine are the components of the performance of all performances, which the actors proudly and selflessly operate by themselves, thus additionally underlining their totally heroic take-over of their performance. This is now their performance; the only performance which is completely in their hands, the only performance where they themselves define heroism. This is the performance of all performances.

And then the monologue of all monologues begins. Which monologue would any actor like to perform? Hamlet, King Lear? And what kind of monologue would an actor write for himself? What is the ultimate monologue Vito would like to utter? An exceptionally exact, humorously analytical, metatheatrical, self-reflective and insightfully polished monologue, which encompasses trite stereotypes about acting and which, at the same time, through the simultaneous dictation and comment on any further emotion and action, translates this monologue into the criticism of one’s own acting, one’s own role. It is a monologue from which the actor builds his role by himself, as he constantly upgrades the monologue, comments on himself and reviews himself, sets limits to himself, transcends those limits and gives himself up to the spectator in all possible forms of his acting range.

All this leads to the dialogue of all dialogues, where the battle begins between the main hero and the side hero. This dialogue, based on the metatheatrical principle of the above mentioned monologue, humorously exposes the problems of co-acting and competitiveness amongst actors, which is required by the stage and by every single theatrical performance. The actors analytically dissect the dialogue on the metatheatrical level, and physically and verbally fight each other, one through form, the other through content. They are entering and exiting, leaving form for story, story for role, role for form, and are thus ceaselessly taking the dynamic dramaturgy from one narrative level to another, from one performing level to another.

By making allusions to various historical and stylistic forms of staging performances – for example, performances by Via negativa, Forced Entertainment, dramatic performances of institutional theatres, the Mladinsko theatre etc., they are constantly revisiting the question of their ideal performance. They employ different – already well-established – theatrical principles, which they combine into an amalgam of their performing mechanisms. By simultaneously commenting on and analysing this activity, they set up a narrative level at which they are indirectly entering the dialogue with the spectator.

Throughout the performance, as a counterpoint to aloofness of the metatheatrical form, we follow the actors’ private story, starting with their first roles as crickets and enamoured dragons, for which their mothers sewed costumes and wrote texts, moving through the years at the academy and finally arriving at balancing off projects with dramatic theatre. Through humour, the actors express their love of theatre, desire for creation and their unfailing commitment to acting. They challenge each other, demand constant improvement and upgrades. They drive each other into typicised situations with directors, art directors, co-actors and foreign theatre stars, and require more of themselves, constantly upgrading their heroes. And despite the fact that nobody wanted to work with Vito, or the fact that Uroš never got the main part, in the performance of all performances they take their deserved space and time to render the parts of all parts, the ideal roles of Uroš Kaurin and Vito Weis.

The performance of all performances is for Vito and Uroš the one which makes a hero of itself – for the spectator. It seeks the best principle through which it could introduce the spectator, in a humorous way, to the world of acting, the world of theatre. The performance does not attempt to seem more than it is. It does not deal with positioning different points of view, or criticising the state of theatre or its audience, but is instead just an honest search for the dialogue of all dialogues; the one between the hero performers and the hero spectators. And this is also where its quality comes to the fore. It is clear, refined, direct and bare, just as its main heroes. With the honesty of the acting duo – and a friendship pair –, it encapsulates all levels of the acting art and, despite the occasional cynicism and self-irony, cares for and maintains elementary, almost childlike love of theatre.

And it is with this love, personified by Ljubo, the most loyal, ideal spectator who watches all performances and keeps an eye on the world of theatre, the performance comes to an end with two bows, and the conductor’s gesture of thanks to and an appreciaton of other coworkers – technicians, light designers etc. (who were absent from this performance) is this time dedicated to us, the audience; to all Ljubos, who – like the heroes – also love theatre. The bow belongs to us, ideal spectators who have kept theatre alive, and the two of them, the heroes creating theatre for us.

The heroes bury themselves under the stage boards with the farewell reply, “There is no fear when Ljubo is here!”

The upgrade of hero / Varja Hrvatin, Radio Študent, March 3 2018

The Review of All Reviews / Jaša Lorenčič, Urbani, June 10 2018

This is the review of all reviews. This. Is. The. Review. Of all. Reviews. The best. The greatest. The sickest. The-the-the. Yeah. The awesomest of all. Why? What do you mean by ‘why’? It just is. Period. Let us repeat this: this is the review of all reviews. Now say it. Have you? Really? Well, let’s say it together. This. Is. The review. Of all. Reviews.

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, this is the review. Indubitably. Unequivocally. How could there be any doubt – oh, please! Don’t be absurd. Just think: it’s them. Yes, them. I am talking about the two schmucks, tool bags, plonkers, talents, wankers, asswipes, wisenheimers, stunners, jerk offs, artists, young men, warriors, men of feeling, intellectuals, cultural professionals, artists, notetakers, jug heads. And, yes, heroes. Since Thursday, they are the guys one should offer their hand to for a shake. Not the other way around. You are thus given an opportunity to touch two heroically independent nominees. Vito Weis and Uroš Kaurin. Uroš Kaurin and Vito Weis. Heroes? Absolutely, definitely, sure, for certain, of course, clearly, you bet, all that. The guys who got their weenies to the Maribor Theatre Festival (Festival Borštnikovo Srečanje). Guys who are so full of themselves that they can form adjectives with their weenies.

Me, me, me, me. Me and then I. And then: me. And, let me add, I. Of course, we are living in the times of “I”. But Weis and Kaurin, Kaurin and Weis, who are supporting roles to the leading role of their lives, are making a bloody good career from their “I-s”. A career so good there are no scenes that could hold a candle to the performance of all performances in the review of all reviews. The guys are so cool – they do not only sell you the ticket. No. They hand you the receipt, dressed shamelessly on top of that. They do not stay dressed for long, because there is no clothing, fashion designer, or brand that could contain the actors of all actors.

Hero 2.1 is the third episode in a series that surpasses everything that has ever been or will be shot by Netflix. Netflix cannot bear comparison. At all. Netflix does not have half the balls Hero 2.1 has. Huh. And Hero 2.1 is a performance that ultimately knows itself to be so good that it is allowed to sing praise to itself. In such a slick and sly and smug way that it gives itself an encore. Yes, an encore. I do not know about Hero 1.0 and 2.0, but the encore in Hero 2.1 is irredeemably megalomaniac, functioning as a kind of an encore performance-in-a-performance. All in all, these dudes are freestyling in such a radically liberated and playful manner that Weis can easily make fun of, outbrave, and upgrade Mel Gibson in Braveheart. Their encore, their closing piece, a gigantic hit, surpasses rock stardom.

What is the best about Hero 2.1 is not the two performers showing us – naked, with their balls bare – that they are proud graduates of the Academy of Theatre, Radio, Film and Television. When they are leafing through their diploma certificates and reading out random excerpts from them, also at the behest of the audience, only to prove that paper indeed tolerates anything. Even more than the eyes. The best thing also is not the duo playing together as though in a sandbox, hey-it’s-my-turn, mum-look-at-me, when the human body becomes, through one word (me), the best possible walking dictionary. Hero 2.1 is a show in which the actors manipulate the viewer beyond all permissible limits, both with the monologue of all monologues and the dialogue of all dialogues, not to mention the light of all lights: the viewer is strung along to the extent that all of the audience turn into fucking staging directions. The best thing about Hero 2.1 also is not the fact that it manages to transform the Intimate Stage (Intimni Oder) from the state of total laughter at one moment into a child’s bed at another, where the daddy is reading a bizarre fairy-tale – by whom else than – Oscar Wilde: Kaurin is shedding such tears, looking directly into the spotlight, his fingers smeared with the mint tooth paste, that we are all hypnotised into believing we are his daughter …

No. The best thing about Hero 2.1 was the heroic catering. Mmmm, the cheakpeas, the falafels, the open sandwiches, the hummus. Mhmmm. Ok, ok. No. All joking aside, what is really the best about Hero 2.1, a performance that gets a six on the scale of five, as far as assessment goes, is the fact that Weis and Kaurin, Kaurin and Weis, make the viewer realise, on a Saturday evening, just how much theatre can give you: a range of emotions, diplomas, lights, songs and everything gained at the academy. On a Saturday evening, you never want this to end. And it never does, almost, as the dudes had made a motherfucking trailer – yes, a trailer – for their show of all shows, and had thus showed, proven and suggested that theatre can be the most accessible, easy, graspable, simple, funny, meaningful, light, bare-chested, hair-pulling, nostalgic and adjective-filled adventure in the world. Which makes you dig everything theatre can be. Because this is not really the independent scene. Nah. Come on. This is a pure session of getting high. This is the most addictive scene on the planet. Because Kaurin and Weis play the role of more than themselves. They play the best version of themselves. They pour everything out, from their first performance, the animal roles they got as children and a mother’s betrayal of her own son, to hard work, desires, writing, and Borštnik – the Maribor Theatre Festival, where their supertalented, superconfident, conceited willies got them in the end.

In the review of all reviews, Hero 2.1, the performance of all performances, gets to be called the experience of all experiences. (Especially at GT22, which has gotten new seats, ones that, let me guess, probably originate from the teachers’ room. I know, I have not been at this venue for a while, I will try to come more often.) Because this is what the performance was about. When Goran Hrvaćanin, an actor, was asked why he had never taken the entrance exams for the theatre academy, he explained he did not quite like the idea of having to play yogurt. But the thing is, you see, that Weis and Kaurin, Kaurin and Weis, do not have any problems at all with playing yogurt. The only thing they need is a pointedly fat, smugly stuffed, perhaps dangerously sharp, slimily conceited adjective. That is all. Vito Weis and Uroš Kaurin are the adjectives of all adjectives. The willie heroes. If you want my opinion, Ignacij Borštnik, the great Slovenian actor, director and pedagogue, would not mind getting undressed, making a little circle with his willie, clockwise, and shouting out: »Meeeeeeeee!«

Encore. On a serious note: falafels and the semi-sweet wine spritzer from the village of Kungota….? The best catering, like, ever.

The Review of All Reviews / Jaša Lorenčič, Urbani, June 10 2018

(Self)ironic (self)dissection / Melita Forstnerič Hajnšek, Večer, June 13 2018

The hero is not one, the heroes are two, and they stage, in the intimacy of Intimni oder (Intimate Stage), using minimal(ist) theatrical means, the “performance of all performances”, the “dialogue of all dialogues”, the “monologue of all monologues”. Heroically ironic, of course. In the sequel of Heroes which was upgraded for Maribor (for me, this was their first Hero), Vito Weis and Uroš Kaurin are heroically self-critical, stark naked, literally, and unrelenting towards themselves. It all reminded me a bit of MandićStroj, but never mind, since their uncompromising (self)dissection of their own professional and existential position also happens to be extremely honest, full of life, and authentic through and through. Actually, the pair enables much more: the conflict and dramatic competition between the two. And, at the same time, constant control and distance towards the other. It relativizes every attempt at egotripping. Their struggle for a more intense presence, for greater persuasiveness, for greater acting power is wittily unrelenting. Because it is based on perfect friendship, it is all the more true; there is no act, no pretence. And the heroes enthral with this more than anything else. This is brilliant authentic theatre, digging inside itself to the point of pain, witty and full of almost boyish gracefulness.

At the entrance Kaurin rips tickets, while Weis welcomes the visitors, shakes hands with them. In the vestibule, we are already watching the film of both Heroes. The first stage scene is the set-up ringing of a mobile phone. The heroes find it, of course, someone from the audience has to take pictures of them with an old camera. They smash both devices, using small hammers they pull from their pockets, and disappear into the dark. They return naked and completely subdue their performance. They are not only actors and authors, they are also sound, light and set designers … Well, some names still appear in the performance’s colophon: the dramaturge Katarina Stegnar, the video designer Boris Bezić, the author of music Lea Čehovin. On the stage, there is a plain little stage, two microphones, a fog machine – and that’s it.

A modest underground hall is an ideal place for Heroes, for demonstrating the total commitment of both protagonists – the devotion to their calling, to their out-of-the-box life project. This is their own performance till last breath. Is it even possible to be more oneself in one’s profession, more in tune with oneself? A privilege, actually. But in order to achieve this, one has to have total control of oneself, while simultaneously retaining a healthy distance. A co-hero can substantially help, of course, and can inject the process with higher purpose. It is indeed heroism to reveal oneself in this manner, to do self-reflection, and not to come off as narcissistic, strained or fake. You need to be a master in order to avoid the traps of superficiality or insult with this kind of seeminly simple manoeuvre of presenting oneself across space and time.

They begin with their diploma theses, the audience chooses passages from them, of course the actors switch the theses. Amusing reading, which introduces their autobiographies, starting with their first memories of performing, the first mentor, mum – the maker of costumes and texts, the unsuccessful playing of the main part. Vito started as a cricket, continued as a zebra and all the other animals, Uroš did not get the main part even in the text written by his mother. Vito is impossible to work with, while Uroš looks for existential shortcuts in institutions, although he considers himself an alternative, non-institutional type.

They compete in their acting capabilities, in all conceivable acting techniques, they impersonate the whole arsenal of staging mechanisms. They act as each other’s corrective, pimps, directors, support and unrelenting critics. They push themselves to all limits, they question, and also ridicule, their real positions in society, in theatre. With tiny hints, ascetic verbal interventions they reach optimum effects – as though without effort. Everything – from speech to movement – is extremely deliberate and well thought out, and exceptionally well dosed. They excellently accelerate the rhythm and finish, how else could they, as part of the stage, under it, in it.

They play out their ideal roles, the heroes of all heroes, and they dedicate it all to the imaginary Ljubo, that person who loves any theatre, thus the ideal spectator. Without pathos, the syntagm »love of theatre« captures them best. Their performance of all performances is a total challenge, both for them and for us, the audience. Nothing more. There is no committed social criticism in the performance, it is self-referential, exact, candid and straightforward. A passionate insight into the secret, the essence of theatre and acting.

(Self)ironic (self)dissection / Melita Forstnerič Hajnšek, Večer, June 13 2018

My text, my stage, my audience / Olga Vujović, Kritikaz, September 9 2018

Charming, perfectly coordinated with each other, unlimited (they are not held back by any costume!), witty and devoted to the pleasures of acting, Uroš Kaurin and Vito Weis are a real lure for both theatre connoisseurs and beginners, because they do not play “heroes” – they are heroes.

The international festival “Mladi levi” (the Young Lions Festival), a festival of contemporary theatre and dance organized by the Ljubljana-based non-profit institution “Bunker”, primarily features programmes of independent in non-institutional theatre groups whose performances can be staged in non-theatre spaces (so to speak). This year, the festival marks its twentieth anniversary, and its 21st version took place from 24th August to 1st September 2018.

According to one of the festival’s selectors, the Bunker’s director Nevenka Koprivšek, this year’s performances alternate between “the personal and the general, the intimate and the public”, which I could partly recognize in the specific behaviour of the audience at the performances that was somewhere between cooperation and witnessing.

My first encounter with the performances at the “Mladi levi” festival started in the best possible manner (28. 8. 2018), as I attended the English version of the performance “Hero 2.0 – The performance of all performances”, authored by the actors Uroš Kaurin (1985) and Vito Weis (1986), dramaturgically processed by Katarina Stegnar, and co-produced by the Maribor-based “Moment” and the Ljubljana-based “Zavod En-Knap”. Before I go on to describe and comment on the performance (which represents a particular version or material separate from their previous hit “Hero 1.0”), I would like to quote the two leading ideas of this performance: “If you don’t think that you’re the best actor, stop acting. If you don’t think that you’re making the best performance, don’t make it.”

After they have smashed a camera and a mobile phone, attired in a smart black suit, they leave us in the hall; when they reappear, they are stark naked, since what they need for the performance are only text, voice, stage and an audience – therefore anything else, including clothes, is superfluous. And then begins one of the most captivating performances I have recently seen: they mutually comment on their diploma theses, discuss the essence of theatre, recall their dramatic roles from their secondary school days in Maribor, and the desired and missed roles, describe the acting processes through which they have gone as well as their theatre statuses, release theatrical smoke for the sake of “theatricality”, play the role named “I” in a variety of ways … All the while, there is honest human sympathy circulating between them (banally put – friendship), and reciprocal acting support – they often laugh from the bottom of their hearts (as do we, who do not expect particular actions, of course), and they neatly lead us to the dilemma of where fiction ends and where reality begins (fiction was or will be, at some time, also someone’s reality!).

Charming, perfectly coordinated with each other, unlimited (they are not held back by any costume!), witty and devoted to the pleasures of acting, Uroš Kaurin and Vito Weis are a real lure for both theatre connoisseurs and beginners, because they do not play “heroes” – they are heroes. I hope I will have an opportunity to watch them again (for example, in the Slovenian version), as I am certain (each performance is different, of course) that I will again be delighted. And perhaps, in time, they will be delighted by me, too, and I may become their Ljubo (the ideal spectator: “There is no fear when Ljubo is here.”).

My text, my stage, my audience / Olga Vujović, Kritikaz, September 9 2018

Hero 2.0 – The Show of All Shows / Irina Lešnik, Koridor, September 11 2018

The actors and authors of the project almost scientifically dissect theatrical art to its component parts, which (just like the actors themselves) reveal themselves in their nakedness – free of the weight of a message, having discarded tacky metaphors.

It seldom happens that a theatrical performance gets its sequel, unless, of course, we are dealing with “the performance of all performances”, as the authors of the project Uroš Kaurin and Vito Weis subtitled Hero 2.0. Even if you did not manage to see Hero 1.0 around four years ago, this is no obstacle for seeing the sequel, as the already well-established acting duo Kaurin-Weis ensures a comprehensive stage experience. They may have tried to save the whole world in Hero 1.0, but this time they content themselves with saving their own world – the world of theatre.

Kaurin and Weis await the audience in front of the entrance to the hall where they are »selling« tickets, collecting voluntary contributions. Before and after the show (and also in the midst, owing to an unknown interruption) they appear in the roles of ushers, while during the show they are lighting, set and costume designers, directors, dramaturgs and, of course, actors; they are the authors of their project in the truest sense of the word. Among the creators of the performance, we find the names already familiar from Hero 1.0: Katarina Stegnar, Boris Bezić and Lea Čehovin, but they are not classified into a theatrical »hierarchy« of creators, characteristic of classic theatre. Kaurin and Weis make fun of the latter in “the best monologue in the world”, which soon turns into “the best dialogue in the world” (“since everybody knows that the best dialogue contains at least one best monologue”). But they do not stop at classic theatre – the postmodern one suffers the same fate, and this happens perhaps as soon as the actors drop all clothing and stand naked, scream, spit and cry actor’s tears in front of the partly shocked public into which they soon blend; in fact, the border between the stage and the audience blurred already when we were handed over the ticket.

They almost scientifically dissect theatrical art to its component parts, which (just like the actors themselves) reveal themselves in their nakedness, having discarded tacky metaphors and free of the weight of a message. What is theatre if not a pompous speech by a champion actor grotesquely waving his arms, staring into the distance, occasionally plunging to the floor in despair, rising up again, followed by the spotlight all the time. The actors skillfully intensify pathetic scenes, take turns playing the first and the second main actor, show off the whole gamut of their acting gimmicks and present the history of their theatrical experiences since kindergarten. When one begins to wonder how much further can the “performance of all performances” go, the atmosphere suddenly changes and it is time for Wilde’s fairy tale about the happy prince.

Kaurin, with the original choice of linguistic means and with Weis’s humorous interferences, delivers a touching story of the Happy Prince and a swallow who does good deeds till he is bone-tired, without ever thinking about himself. In the end, all his hard work pays off with the awareness of having helped the powerless. What does all of this have to do with theatre? Swallow-like, the theatre actor/performer/independent creator throws himself into his role with all of his body and spirit, and does not stop until the last light is switched off. He is exposed to countless eyes of the audience, criticism, ridicule, sometimes even scorn, but at the end of the day, it is all worth it, because he trusts the indestructible power of theatre. The theatre which cannot be reduced to its component parts (although we critics ceaselessly attempt to do this), but which works in those rare moments when the auditorium and the stage breathe as one; when for a second we forget about the uncomfortable backrest and the ceiling-high haircut of the lady in the front seat, since we are all there for the same reason – because we, despite everything, do believe that there is some sense to all these “theatrics”. A sincere thanks to Weis and Kaurin, for uncoverings in every sense of the word …

Hero 2.0 – The Show of All Shows / Irina Lešnik, Koridor, September 11 2018

HERO 3.0 – More Than Words


Careless Whispers / Nenad Jelesijević, Performans, December 5 2019

The saga continues, the topic is challenging. Metamorphosis or step-by-step process or evolution is a visible trait of the project Hero by Uroš Kaurin and Vito Weis.

The onstage and performative treatment of archetypes such as heroism, freedom and love requires us to move on the slippery terrain among infinite elusive ideas which one must know how to tame. In Hero 3.0, with the sub-title More Than Words, Kaurin and Weis seem to be quite literally on slippery ground: like two virtuosos, they are sliding across the wet floor, stressing the failure inscribed into the paradigm of heroism. They are hiding neither their own vulnerability and inner weakness nor the facade of physical power.

The potential we could foresee in Hero 1.0 (from 2014) has developed, in the 3.0 version, into a statement without any beating about the bush.

Now there is no doubt left, even at the level of message, that the Hero is facing its own homosexual tendencies, and coming to terms with this aspect is pretty tiring. The performance starts to explore homoeroticism and have fun with it, only to lead it, among a series of playful bizarre escapades on the verge of the orgastic, to the point of bordering on the absurd. This is its way of showing that concealing a man’s desire to have sex with another man by means of machismo or emphasising one’s masculine and muscular character often boils down to the ridiculous.

The heroes are again doing all they can (performance is physically hard), and will do whatever it takes (and what they have set for themselves by themselves!) to attain the ever-elusive (unknown?) goal. As an exact – in their movement – and sychronised duality, they can cope with the most difficult tasks, no matter how absurd these may be. They are dying and bringing the other back to life, falling and getting up again, courageously hitting the obstacles and each other, and their interaction with the audience is potent, too.

The panting bodies experience extremes; are they looking for the remote and unexplored emotions in the extremes of the physical? There is a feeling of some kind of lack, gap… reminding us of the perennial problem of desire, in the psychosocial and performative context.

How to incorporate the question of desire into playing with the archetype of the hero? What is decisive in this case is perceiving two figures as one and also as staging a dialogue with oneself or internal dialogue. Vito and Uroš are projecting the ego and the alter ego onto each other, while each of them acts as a metaphor for the partner’s alter ego. The reciprocity and persistence of this mirroring (repetitions, references, quotes and mirrored images of movement) are opening up the field – or creating an atmosphere – in which it is possible to look at desire – the desire for freedom, security, love, intimacy, shelter, and expressing one’s sexuality; desire as a totally individual thing which only needs to be aligned with circumstances: how to tie desire to the field of the common (shared) without killing it?

The performers, who are dramaturgically supported by Katarina Stegnar, seem to be motivated by this essential tension primarily in the direction of exploring lust, with the disturbing frustration of some kind attached to it (an emotional block, the fear of how the environment would react, all sorts of things). One can somehow manage to fuck the stage light, but dealing with a partner proves to be more difficult; however, it does happen once the latter is already dead or has symbolically (emotionally?) already freezed to death. The necrophiliac scene expresses a deep fear of transcience (»Time can never mend / the careless whispers of a good friend«) and serves as a warning that impotence is the consequence of the prohibition to break the socially ingrained conventions.

Opening up the question of sexuality by taking a brave step into the field of the instinctual drive, and indirectly also opening up the question of both the physical and emotional side of love (self-love or love between partners), indicates the Hero’s evolution or dramaturgical maturing that has taken place between the first and the latest edition of the performance, which is especially visible at those moments that present the greatest risk in terms of performing, such as directly addressing the public, expressing the pain pathos or spicing up stage procedures with humour.

The phenomenon of heroism is associated with some kind of uniqueness: there can be only one hero among many, and to be one, they have to be unique. A series of performances by the tandem Weis-Kaurin shakes the assumed uniqueness of the phenomenon by presenting the male’s supernatural capacities side by side with the vulnerabilities of his inner world; heroism radically fails every time, and turns out to be unrealisable (while in no way not worthy of the attempts, spectacular summits and nasty falls).

In the last version of the project, the artists seem to be at their boldest, in facing their/our complexes, especially through playing with the instinctive, and they achieve something significant: they reveal the schizofrenia of the image of heroism. Someone perceived as a hero can be a person who has saved a life, or someone who did an exceptional deed during the war for the benefit of the community, or just someone who is the object of desire (as in the pop song Holding Out for a Hero). But can heroism at the level of the common resonate with the hero’s intimate side? The clash between the common and the intimate undermines and deconstructs the whole myth, but that does not make the challenge of being a hero any less relevant.

The introduction of the animalistic dimension into playing with the stereotype of the alpha male could be used even more effectively to shake the anthropocentric perspective and to higlight human psychological (self)slavery, which inspires in each of us the desire to be the first. But the only one who can claim to be the first, we need to admit, is the one who is really living out their desire, which is, strictly speaking, impossible in the current biopolitical context. Unless you are a hero (the potency of love that breaks restrictions).

Careless Whispers / Nenad Jelesijević, Performans, December 5 2019

#RelationshipGoals / Nika Švab, Neodvisni, December 6 2019

The author of the contribution is commenting on the third, wordless edition of the tandem-made performance Hero (3.0) by Uroš Kaurin and Vito Weis. As a friend and an embedded observer – a colleague who attended a few rehearsals, she acknowledges that the pair have been successful again, even in the new format, again presenting an abundance and overflow of “humor, interpersonal dynamics and pop hits”. The present reflection on the performance shows no lack of humor, either.

Uroš & Vito (to the audience): Would you dance if I asked you to dance?
Uroš (to Vito): Or would you run and never look back?
Vito (to Uroš): Would you cry if you saw me crying?
The audience: And would you save my soul tonight?

The heroic saga composed by Uroš Kaurin and Vito Weis has lived to see its third installation at the 18th festival Drugajanje. Hero 3.0 – More Than Words is a moving performance which tackles the theme of their relationship. We have seen several stagings on this topic lately: Leja Jurišić and Marko Mandić co-inhabited the stage in the performance Together, Anita Wach and Gregor Zorc parasited on each other in Sorry. Kaurin and Weis are not mutual parasites, they are not apologising and are not trying to appeal to everyone to cooperate. They are together and are taking up roles according to the outcome of the game stone-paper-scissors, where the one to lose gets to play the »lamer role«. If Jurišić and Mandić are beckoning each other to collaborate with certain props and actions, and if Wach and Zorc are saying they are sorry for their mistakes, heroes are neither saying they are sorry nor animating anyone. Scenes are set up clearly, the question is only who draws the short straw. Just the way relationships basically are, first one and then the other gets to be the victim, positions of power are shifting, they are not unambiguous and infinite.

Expectations were sky-high before the premiere, perhaps they were the greatest ever. After Hero 2.0 – The Show of All Shows, a performance addressing the neuralgic points of theatre and art in general, had an extremely big resonance among the public and was recognised by the profession as a work of achievement, it has seemed difficult to do an upgrading. Especially in another format, the moving one, with no recourse to words, in a framework in which the two actors feel less at home. My desire to see a performance made by independent artists turn out well is big each time; I always hope to see a masterpiece which will prove to anyone present that it does not matter where rehearsals take place. Moreover, I was awaiting the performance as the producer’s coworker, and, finally, I also happen to be Weis and Kaurin’s friend.

Nika: Where have all the good men gone
And where are all the gods?
Where’s the streetwise Hercules to fight the rising odds?
Isn’t there a white knight upon a fiery steed?

Still, I would hardly call myself an embedded observer, while I do claim a certain level of insight into the creative process. I started to follow the content of the performance somewhere in the beginning of autumn, when I saw the scene sequence scribbled on the board while attending a Nova Pošta event. One of the scenes was recorded as “Rape – both into women” and I had to intervene by offering them first feedback, in which I politely asked them to reconsider this choice. I saw them again at a rehearsal, for the second and last time, just about a week before the premiere. The thing went on for about an hour and a half, which was absolutely too much, and included not only one, but two rapes; nobody was dressed up as a woman, granted. Again, I found rape completely misplaced and unnecessary, which is why I enjoyed watching a premiere, where the same scene now ends differently.

Uroš and Vito are good friends. Perhaps they and their families do not go sailing together, but previous edition of Heroes, press releases etc. show that they are really close. How close that really is, is the overarching theme of the third part of the saga. If the above mentioned tandems Jurišić-Mandić and Wach-Zorc (inadvertently) draw attention to the male-female relationship, heroes break away from this pattern. They are not interested in gender-assigned roles, they are interested in each other and their relationship, a specific bond between two heterosexuals (bromance). They are witty, funny, angry, provoked and triggered, resentful, stubborn, vulgar, humiliated, disappointed, hurt. First they are merrily jumping around the stage together, then they are crying when losing the other, confessing love to each other (belching it out, to be precise), riding each other and also resisting when they no longer feel like being ridden. They are both rough and gentle. Their relationship is any and everyone’s; they prove that friendship is built on the same foundations as any romantic partnership. And this departure from gender-defined relationships is absolutely refreshing.

If Hero 1.0 was undefined in terms of genre and format, everything at the same time and simultaneously nothing concrete (»not enough dancy for the festival Gibanica, not enough of a dramatic performance for Borštnik, not enough of a puppetry performance for the Bienale, too much of a moving performance for the TSD and not funny enough for the Dnevi Komedije (Comedy Days)« – to use the approximate quote of the performance’s Facebook announcement), Hero 2.0 was clearly positioned in the copyrighted postdramatic theatre and thus invited to both the TSD and the Borštnik. Hero 3.0 is again difficult to pinpoint and put into a box. It is a moving performance and yet, as regards the structure of scenes, it is often a dramatic piece – it is just that the physical move is doing the talking (beside, occasionally, the partially articulated sounds).

An hour-long performance works as an effective whole with a silver thread, although some transitions seem to be more violent than the others. In the multitude of diverse material, interesting though it may be, there is sometimes a lack of logic in the sequence of scenes and a lack of smooth shifts from one to another, which is mostly solved by exits behind the curtain. It is true that hiding behind the curtain may also be a pragmatic solution, because this is where the props are and they sure will not come to the stage on their own. Unfortunately, occasionally the whole thing still tends to function as a presentation of scenes. Since the artists begin anew whenever they return to the stage. A new scene, a new situation, a new intro. With the exception of the change of format, heroes stay on the familiar ground, relying on their wittiness, their interpersonal dynamics and pop hits that are so soppy one cannot miss the mark with them. And this whole package works each and every time. As real heroes, they also clean up all the filth that gets to accumulate in a relationship over time. And wipe the stage clean.

U & V: Though nothing
Will keep us together
U: We could steal time
Just for one day
V: We can be heroes
For ever and ever
What d’you say?

#RelationshipGoals / Nika Švab, Neodvisni, December 6 2019

Hero 3.0 – More Than Words / Tajda Lipicer, Koridor, January 5 2020

Hero 3.0 is a sequel in a serially conceived project by two actors, Uroš Kaurin and Vito Weis, who have already paved the way for such creative practice through the “pilot episode” Hero 1.0 and the second, Hero 2.0, sub-titled as The Show of All Shows. As the latter received positive responses from the audience as well as a number of awards, the viewer enters the theatre hall with a certain level of expectation this time around. The performance Hero 3.0, with the sub-title More Than Words, which combines elements of the performative and the theatrical, saw its premiere on the 18th festival Drugajanje; the festival took place from 25th to 28th November 2019 in Maribor, and the year’s focus was contemporary dance.

The performance Hero 3.0 can be read as an autonomous stage product and does not require preliminary familiarity with the ongoing project. But the spectator is in some way imprinted with the impressions left by the last antecedent, and notes some parallels between the two works, a possible thematic connection, a continuation in terms of content, or contrasts. Hero 2.0 – The Show of All Shows, ironises heroism with greater emphasis and integrates the story of a particular hero into the context of the actor’s profession. This time, the thematic field is dominated by the dynamics of a relationship between two friends, articulated through different types of play; play as an entertaining children’s activity, play as a powerplay that involves subordination and domination, and finally play as a performative, onstage activity. Through these phases, the relationship between the protagonists is deteriorating.

Aesthetically, the possible continuation is conceived similary as the preceding episode; the stage is clear, there is practically no scenography, due to logistical solutions there are two curtains in the back of the stage, one on each side and extending almost to the half of the length of the staging space, which is filled by the actors with their bodies – which are, again, most of the time bedecked in emperor’s new clothes. Numerous props come in handy and are put to sensible use in the context of a particular scene. For example, deer antlers are used to illustrate the image of a stag, an image that appears several times throughout the performance, and takes part in its content and form. In the beginning, the hopping actors generate a rhythm that resembles stampeding deer, and go on to break down the fourth wall by producing mating calls and entering the space reserved for the audience.

The actors’ bodies reach beyond individual scenographic elements, scenography, costumes and props. The performance’s sub-title does not position this work only in terms of content, but also in terms of form. A year ago, the heroes presented themselves in their highest form, in the Show of All Shows, while the form is now questioned. More Than Words carries the content to the level of the physical, the bodily. The absence of words limits the actors’ means of expression, and the audience’s focus is directed towards signs and symbols. We try to follow all movement, action and gestures, in order to identify the silver thread running through them.

This thread is revealed to the viewer through an associative string of scenes, which are often separated only by light design. Most scenes successfully support the performance’s central idea, as the onstage action depicts the dynamics of a relationship between two friends-and-colleagues through different types of play, while a number of scenes remain merely associative and illustrative.

The introductory tone of scenes in which the actors present themselves to the audience again, is the one that leaves the most lasting mark. In this sequence, one can sense the seeds of irony; the actors enter the stage friskily bouncing around, hopping in a circle and sending smiles to the audience. The initial unison of their interpersonal dynamics continues into an evocative procession of warming-up exercises, focused on particular parts of the body. Because of the way these exercises are stepped up, they look like something the actors would be doing at the acting academy and not something they would usually do before a performance, which underlines the irony of this first part. This culminates when the protagonists “fly” onto the stage in capes made of towels, just the type worn by real heroes; brave, moral, pure and dedicated to their mission, heroes who do not play at being heroes, but really, in truth, are heroes.

But if Uroš and Vito became »proper heroes« right away, the performance could simply end right there and then. Uroš and Vito are only playing. They play at being heroes, and they are playing with their little toy-heroes, resembling two infantile boys who have just discovered a source of their power. And as soon as they do that, they start fighting. They are playing the blood-shedding game of stones, scissors, paper. The one who gets the more powerful instrument is assigned the role with more power; the role of the one who is riding instead of being ridden, the one who is not frozen but is instead covering the freezing one with the antifreeze foil, the one who leaves the other instead of being left by them.

Various games of power reflect the competitive nature of their relationship, which had been thematised already in Hero 2.0, but in the latter powerplay was bound to the wider context of the acting profession. The third part of the project diverges from the second also as regards the manner of the development of their relationship. While in the second part the tension and impatience between the protagonists seems to gradually grow, in the third part they both alternately find themselves in the roles of the winner and the loser; in turns, one is always subordinated to the other.

After numerous acts of resistance, dying, resuscitation, leaving the other, defeat and victory, after the last duet, which is not sung but belched, Vito suddenly leaves Uroš. After his colleague’s departure, Uroš cannot get on his feet. He literally cannot get off the floor; with each new attempt to get up, he slips again and lands on the wet floor. He is making himself ridiculous. He becomes a hen. Then a seal. Then a rabbit. But Vito remains out of reach. Uroš is calling him, shouting his name slurringly (as they are both more than words), but Vito is nowhere to be seen. Then he reappears at the hall entrance, observing his colleague from afar, watching him as his friend is trying to attract his attention with a series of actions.

The scene that follows evokes disgust in the audience: Uroš reaches into his pants and pulls out what appears to be literally diarrhea, which can be read as a metaphor for the conclusion of the development of their relationship, a point at which they realise they are tangled together and indispensable to each other: if they do not act in unison, they may sh.. their pants out of fear which arises due to abandonment…

The performance concludes on a rosy note, with a symbolic reconciliation, when the two clean the stage of all the filth that has accumulated during their time together, and put on ragged clothes and red hero capes, those worn by real heroes. The dramaturgic arc circumscribing their relationship concludes with an insight that their play cannot be sustained if they refuse to play harmoniously. Be it the game of stones, scissors and paper, or dramatic play, which is why we can understand the third part as a possible thematic continuation of the second part. If rivalry seems to take hold of their relationship in the second part, in the third part they find out (in the context of the acting profession) that any play requires cooperation and an ear for what the other is trying to say, which also includes not letting oneself be guided by blind fate – sheer coincidence, as represented in the game of stone, scissors, paper.

In the performance, the actors again show their versatility. As they have already proven themselves as competent dramatic actors, this time they have focused on demonstrating their skills in mastering and expressing their own body and its correspondence to the body of their counterpart. The seemingly limited repertoire of resources, where there is really only a lack at the level of verbal elements, has become their tool. Due to the consciousness of each move, rich facial expressions and use of voice, they are able to control the content with very simple elements, such as the direction in which they look. In spite of their wittiness and spontaneity, which constantly animate the audience, particular parts do not seem to support the guiding idea behind the performance, by which we mean those scenes that are drifting away from the compact narrative about a relationship dynamics to the point that they turn into too specific micro actions, which weaken the insight offered by the macro theme. Perhaps this is merely the result of the order in which these scenes appear, as transitions sometimes seem to be rough, too. In conclusion, the variety of the material makes this staging vibrant and very dynamic, but the lack of cohesiveness on the part of some scenes reduces the overall conceptual clarity, which was so obvious in the second part of this series.

In any case, the performance serves as a fertile ground for exploring the discourse on the tools available to theatre, on how these may touch the viewer, and on how performative elements can be combined with elements of classical theatre. Hero 3.0 is sometimes defining itself as a theatre performance and at other times as a dance performance. The best way to refer to this project seems to be the term performance, as this is the form that basically integrates also the elements of the performative, especially those related to the body and space, which, however, remain marginal in relation to those of style and content. The format of the performance mostly pushes the two artists not to express themselves within a narrative but instead create just personas and distinct scenes, each with its own dramaturgical line, a beginning, in which they present themselves as a particular figure, the main part and a conclusion, while the sum of all scenes functions as the open form of a performative phenomenon which is trying to balance out elements of the performative and the theatrical.

Hero 3.0 – More Than Words / Tajda Lipicer, Koridor, January 5 2020

More or Less Beyond Words / Melita Forstnerič Hajnšek, Večer, February 7 2020

The last edition of the awarded high-profile project Hero by Vito Weis and Uroš Kaurin, with the serial number 3.0, has a tell-tale title More Than Words. This time, the heroes took up the methods of the nonverbal, moving, physical theatre. The performance was premiered on the 18th festival Drugajanje in November 2019. It is not absolutely necessary for the viewer to be familiar with the former editions of the Hero in order to understand the present one, but it is beneficial. Two years ago, the two actors, performers, movers tested the whole arsenal of performative mechanisms in Hero 2.1 – “the show of all shows”, pushed themselves to their limits, laid bare their professional autobiographies and dissected their profession. The only way forward was obviously leading them beyond words, into the clear and bare form of “theatre”.

In the theatre hall of the II. Gimnazija Secondary School, we have witnessed a moving performance on the bare set, divided into two halves by two curtains. This is not really a performance, as they play characters; the self-ironic self-reflection on the topic of the heroism of acting turns into nonverbal “heroic games” played by two friends. There is more to playing than games: there is powerplay, domination, acting out the same scenes in a variety of ways, and, in the end, performing onstage, which manages to finally invalidate, dehumanise and vulgarise their honest friendship. The process descends to the level of the literally naturalist diarrhea in the underwear of one of the helpless, dejected heroes, who dirties the whole set. In an hour or so, the radical physical theatre tries out a full range of non-verbal and associative expression.

The beginning seems amusing and playful, full of frolicking and flirting with the audience. The artists are both excellent movers, their education in contemporary dance shows clearly – Kaurin received it in Amsterdam, while Weis got a good share at the Dance Theatre Ljubljana (Plesni teater Ljubljana) and numerous workshops. The props are simplistic, yet very effective – towels, now used as heroic capes, now tucked around the waist. The two friends are playing the heroic games of their childhood, from games involving their wieners to power games, while the rhythm is dictated by the game of stone-paper-scissors. Their positions in the next scene are always, so it seems, bound to who wins the round. This game is popular and global, and comes with a whole bunch of strategies on how to humiliate the opponent. Kaurin and Weis master extremes, excess, suspension, the timing, mortal combat, dying, victory and loss, subordination and domination… In one of the scenes, they are freezing, and one hero is warming the other with the golden foil in an attempt to save him… Competitiveness is ingeniously illustrated with stag fights and rutting. Oh, the amusement in the rubbing of the antlers against the wall and the thumping of “stags” among the audience, not to mention the “loud” scene of free-style burping on the microphone. Their thematisation of all possible relationships seems occasionally almost banal, taken from posters and advertisement boards. Expressions of love and hatred, betrayals, humiliations and offers of support and encouragement, closeness and drifting away produce an even more Manichaean, more fateful effect when we stop using words. And the reduction of our means of expression surprisingly offers more, not less.

We are increasingly made to feel particular rounds-scenes as the growing gap between the winner and the loser. In the end, Vito abandons his friend, leaving the set and joining the audience. He just watches the impotent play of his colleague, who cannot stand up on his own two feet. Literally and metaphorically. He is degrading himself, trying to seduce his colleague, only to go even lower. In one of the scenes on the wet podium, they are waltzing lying down, wearing rags. The association with Edward Klug’s Le Sacre du Printemps was certainly not conscious (probably wholly mine).

Constant competition between the heroes is ironised throughout the performance and is perceived all the more intensely due to the use of non-verbal strategies. The concluding scene is of course happy-endish: in spite of everything, the heroes join forces and clean the stage together. Regardless of the random and unpredictable outcome of the game stone-paper-scissors, what finally wins is their decision for reconciliation, harmony and friendship. Almost fairytalish. Weis and Kaurin have proven once again that they are masters of minimalism, proficient in using all theatrical and non-theatrical tools. Although the dramaturgy (Katarina Stegnar) at first seems a bit haphazard and loose, in the end it turns out to be very consistent.

When an actor discards their strongest weapon, they have to be seriously good to hold the attention or even win over and enchant the audience. The two heroes succeed every step of the way. It is uncertain where else one could go. For now, they have cleared the way behind them. To blinding brilliance.

More or Less Beyond Words / Melita Forstnerič Hajnšek, Večer, February 7 2020

The Scope of Heroism / Samo Oleami, Radio Študent, February 27 2020

In their previous joint project, Hero 2.0 – The Show of All Shows, Vito Weis and Uroš Kaurin acted out and performed all registers and contexts of theatre – as long as what we understand under this term, “theatre”, is actually drama as ingrained into theatre artists by the Slovenian Academy of Theatre, Radio, Film and Television. In the course of doing this, they also made a step further into performance and a step away into dance, in order to prove to each other and the audience that they may be the very best of the best. And I imagine that later the following debate took place over beer: “Hey, matey, do you know how we could really show that we are first league actors? We could make a whole performance without text!” This mental image is probably only a figment of my imagination, but it is a potential vector of transition from the previous performance to the present one.

Hero 3.0 – More Than Words takes place without a single word. It develops some themes that we have encountered in the previous two Heroes. We saw it on 21st February at the Dance Theatre Ljubljana (Plesni Teater Ljubljana). In the absence of any social contexts, playing with the medium, or forming a narrative, the performance’s silver thread becomes all the qualities that determine the heroic trilogy anyway: the competitive who-will-outdo-whom relationship between the actors, the chemistry between them, humour and attempts to capture the audience’s attention. This journey beyond words reveals the limits of the dramatic theatre, which, in spite of the elements of performance and contemporary dance, fundamentally determines the performance’s coordinates. In other words: it is easier to get an actor out of the dramatic theatre than the dramatic theatre out of the actor. Nonetheless, mapping the scope of the theatre background is not necessarily something negative, since it can bring out the process of growing aware of one’s own performative repertoire.

The performance is conceived as a series of loosely linked situations or stage pictures. As expected, the actors are naked for the most part: first with a towel around their buttocks, and then with a towel across their backs, their weenies freely flapping around. This light childlike playfulness, with which dance, performative and acting scenes follow each other, is slowly giving space to the struggle for domination. The game of scissors-stone-paper is used to determine who will play the role of the dominated one, which is becoming increasingly humiliating – for example, Weis is riding Kaurin and spanking his bottom, which is followed by the expected payback. What comes next is almost a rape, excruciating pain, death by hypothermia, resuscitation with the help of beer, resentment, and diarrhea in the underpants … up to the final reconciliation, which sees the two actors, now wearing cleaning cloths, sliding across and wiping the wet dance podium with the whole of their bodies.

The first part of the performance uses associative leaps between stage pictures to suggest the possibility of a dramaturgy which could transcend words by way of removing the linear logic or realism – for example by using montage procedures, dream sequences or any of the contemporary dance aesthetics. But since the onstage action remains stuck at the level of the physical tangibility of two kids and their relationship, the effect is, above all, that of easy-going playfulness and, ocassionally, childishness, which includes flipping the weenies. The performance’s slow tempo prepares the ground for the conflict later on. Various stage approaches are integrated into this tempo: empathetic dramatic acting, humorous flirting with the audience as well as elements of performance. Traces of the Via Negativa can be observed in the scene of the performative provoking of the audience in which the actors, both carrying real stag antlers on their shoulders and an erect dildo under the towel, paw the ground and loudly signal to the audience that they are looking for a mate. What gets articulated in this triangle of tragedy-comedy-performance is the perfect range that supposedly characterises an accomplished actor.

When Weis and Kaurin venture into the non-verbal territory beyond drama, they enter a field already occupied by other staging traditions. Their non-verbal tangle of dramatic, performative and dance registers creates an approximation of physical theatre. When this is underlined by the frequent use of low status and the distinctly humorous undertone of the performance, the effect resembles a kind of conceptual clowning or: clowning for the educated class. Unlike Hero 3.0, physical theatre employs the bodily and emotional means of expression for constructing a plot and characters that lead the audience into this plot. However, caring for narration does not seem to be identified by Slovenian drama actors as part of their responsibility – as it is by clowns, street actors and theatre improvisers. The performance also does not offer any characters – the actors are roleplaying themselves. In the lack of a content that would expose itself either at the level of actors’ choices or at the level of the directing strategy, the backbone of the performance becomes the relationship between the performers, and the latter is supported by emotional expression.

The relationship between the stage versions of Kaurin and Weis can be seen as the content of the performance, i.e. a kind of bromance in which the heroes learn, through the consequences of their actions, the basic rules of being ethical, and realise the power of true friendship. Even more cringey than this tired cliché is the fact that the performance fails to grasp a relationship between two men as more than a one-dimensional struggle to subordinate the other and get more attention than them. Whereas the rule of the physical and improvisational theatre is that actors form a community with the viewers, there is distinct separation between the heroes and their audience, occasionally manifesting in slight provocation. For the majority of the performance, we experience the feeling of being lured into the emotional trap of likeability, which is supposed to offer a sense of affirmation to the performers.

In conclusion, we should highlight the commendable qualities of the performance. Kaurin and Weis are noticeably in sync: they have a stage feeling for each other, gained through long-time cooperation, and common performative habits, which can only form through creative processes and spending time onstage together. Kaurin demonstrates his dancing and performative stage range, which includes the trademark scene of falling on the floor. Weis surprises with a few scenes – especially with the belching solo -, in which his striking emotional expression, free of realistic characters, merges with the body into an effect that evokes Grotowski and the experimental theatre of the 1960s. He thus reveals a potential for possible further research. We can also note their marked feeling for the audience, the timing and dosing. The dramatic and provocative scenes last long enough to cut into the audience, but not too long to interrupt the light tone of the performance. This sense of true artistry produces a raging applause at the end of the show, yet the enthusiasm is starting to slowly slip through the fingers once we think through what we have seen and realise we have found ourselves in the trap of likeability and the actors’ will to self-affirmation.

In a performance without a story or content, a performance which does not take risks and which is about nothing in particular, what gets revealed is the question of the scope of drama. Hero 3.0-like approaches of the non-verbal physical, street and improvisational theatre also create performances which are accessible to the wider public, but nonetheless establish either some narrative or a sense of community – they do not steal smiles, instead, the laughter, present in them, belongs to everyone. The next stage of the heroic saga will face the question of the duo either persisting on the path of moving beyond drama – and here they might need someone to consult, or returning into the arms of drama. But perhaps they could also found their work on the potential of Weis’s emotional-physical intensities.

The Scope of Heroism / Samo Oleami, Radio Študent, February 27 2020

From here, there and everywhere


The Actors of All Actors from the Show of All Shows - Portrait of the Week / Melita Forstnerič Hajnšek, Večer, November 3 2018

Uroš Kaurin and Vito Weis are multifunctional artists, who do not mind walking on the edge and going all the way, heroically, with a passionate insight into the essence of theatre and acting.

Rarely does a tandem of actors receive a prestigious award together. Uroš Kaurin and Vito Weis from Maribor won this year’s Borštnik Acting Award, as a superb duo, for their brilliant onstage performance in a personal story, which includes virtuoso solo passages, punctilious co-acting and improvised segments. We get all of this and more in their copyrighted performance – Hero 2.0 in the coproduction of the KUD Moment and the Zavod En-knap. This is mesmerising primal theatre, witty, full of almost boyish grace, and facing the shadow to the point of pain. The best portrait has already been created by themselves, in this performance of all performances. They go all the way, heroically, with a passionate insight into the essence of theatre and acting.

They begin with diploma theses from the Slovenian Academy of Theatre, Radio, Film and Television: the audience is picking the passages from their theses to be read, and the two actors swap their theses. This makes for a stunningly funny reading, which introduces the autobiographies of both, starting with their first memories of performing onstage, their first mentors, their mothers – who were also sewing costumes and texts –, their failed attempts to get the main part. Vito began his career as a cricket, his next role was zebra etc., while Uroš did not play the main role even in his mother’s text. Vito seems impossible to work with, while Uroš has found existential shortcuts by working for institutions, though he still considers himself to be an alternative type – he is a self-proclaimed non-institutionalist.

Research, experiment, putting things under question

They both attended the II. Gimnazija Secondary School in Maribor, they both gained some experience in the theatre group Gnosis, and they were both linked with the group Prvi Oder, too, though this is more true of Vito than Uroš. “I was drawn to theatre by the work done by the Mladinsko, Matjaž Pograjc, Betontanc, the Via Negativa, Wim Vandekeybus,” says Uroš. Vito: “What attracted me to theatre was the freedom and limitlessness I felt when watching or making performances, starting with the ‘cricket’. I’ve always felt that theatre can be more real than life. I wouldn’t say I’d had any special preferences in terms of favourite artists, performances or theatre houses before my academy studies, I guess there was most affinity with the SNG Maribor, with which I had been in contact the most when still in high school.”

They are interested in everything, drama, moving theatre, musical and puppetry theatre, performance, film. They are really multifunctional, and this comes in handy in contemporary times. Distinctions between drama theatre, dance, and performance are slowly being erased and are ever more elusive. Research, experimenting and questioning things is what they find crucial in making theatre.

The award went to the independent, non-institutional scene, the theatre practice that they are most committed to, though they also both work in institutions. Kaurin was a member of the Mladinsko Theatre for nine years. Since the beginning of this season, he has been employed in the Maribor Puppet Theatre. Weis is a freelancer, working on almost all Slovenian stages – from Nova Gorica in the west to Maribor in the east.

They are actors, movers, performers, versatile artists, who have already been awarded several times. They both received the Borštnik Young Actor Award: Uroš in 2010 for the role in the performance Damned be the Traitor of His Homeland! (Preklet naj bo izdajalec svoje domovine!), while Vito won the award three years ago for the roles of Leon and Rodolph in the performance Madame Bovary (Gospa Bovary) by the SNG Nova Gorica. They also share a highly developed moving-choreographical literacy; they have both studied dance.

No censure

They have cooperated with almost all of the main institutional and non-institutional houses, institutes and projects in Slovenia. With their performances they toured the country and travelled globally, either as actors or creators of performances. They worked successfully with many established artists; the Via Negativa, headed by director Bojan Jablanovec, seems to have been especially significant for their careers. They also both participated at the Gibanica, the Plesna Nacionala and the Maribor-based international festival Prestopi – Crossings.

How do they perceive their Borštnik tandem award? “This is an award for the type of theatre the two of us are able to do. Without any conditions, limitations, censure or requirements. Our play, according to our rules,” they say. “We feel a great sense of responsibility toward this award, but the responsibility toward our work has remained unchanged. The responsibility that comes with an award goes beyond the field of art. By being publicly exposed, you have some responsibility toward this public. The field in which we are active is public, and if we feel responsibility towards every viewer of the performance, we feel the same toward every human. This award is the result of all the group work so far. It is an award for every glued piece of sellotape, every hung stage light … We got it for everything that is already going on with this performance (festivals, guest performances…) and for what is lying ahead. At the same time, this is a big thing for us, as it affirms us as performers and positions us into the theatre space in Slovenia and abroad as relevant artists.”

The courage to live in Maribor

In the correspondence I had with Uroš in 2010, for our weekend supplement, he shared: “Unfortunately, no deep metaphysical ideas about the world, art and theatre, which we so often read in interviews with actors, seem to grow inside me. Don’t get me wrong, the people responding are my friends and colleagues. It is just that I don’t see any reason for this stupid mystification of actors.” And: “I would really like to have the guts to move to Maribor.” He has finally mustered up the courage.

Uroš is generation 1985, he finished his drama studies in 2009, and this was also the year he got employed by the Mladinsko Theatre, immediately after he received further training at the SNDO – School for New Dance Development – Choreography, at the Theaterschool in Amsterdam. He started to work in the non-institutional scene already in his student days. In his hometown, he is the producer of the KUD Moment. From 2010 to 2012, he was the head of the independent theatre festival Prestopi / Crossings. He was also featured in a youth blockbuster Gremo Mi Po Svoje (Let’s Go Our Own Way), where he appeared in the role of a scatterbrained scout.

Vito, generation 1986, graduated from drama at the Academy of Theatre, Radio, Film and Television eight years ago. He sought additional training in contemporary dance at the Dance Theatre Ljubljana (Plesni Teater Ljubljana) and at numerous workshops in classical acting, the Grotowski technique, performance, and different contemporary dance techniques. As a student, he started to cooperate as a guest in performances of the repertoire theatre, the Ljubljana Drama, and in copyrighted performances, the Glej Theatre. Since finishing academy, he has been self-employed, working for repertoire theatres, the independent scene and different theatre groups – Via Negativa, Betontanc – and directors: Janša, Jablanovec, Divjak, Horvat, Pograjc, Roschina, Đilas, Jelen etc. He is also the (co)creator of many performances, for example 365 Falls and 6 – with both he participated at this year’s Maribor Theatre Festival (Festival Borštnikovo Srečanje) in the accompanying and competition programme, in addition to Hero 2.0. This probably makes him the most engaged actor of this year’s festival. Two years ago, he won the Golden Lion Award in Umag.

And what is their favourite line from the Heroes, which has almost become part of the folk heritage? “We care about everyone. From Kungota to Brussels.”

They are couragous enough to go all the way

Zoran Petrovič, a friend and a colleague: “Vito and Uroš are friends. Very good friends. They are different both by character and looks, but have a lot in common. They are both loving parents and have as many as four children together. Each has two. Three girls, one boy. They both love theatre, although at least one of them at some point in their life denied that out loud. And though that was meant honestly, one could not believe the guy even at that moment. They like to create honest theatre and like it best when they are doing it together. They love doing this so much that, when necessary, they are ready to invest their own funds into this activity. And this was exactly what enabled, among other things, the performance which at its very origin started out as wanting to be crème de la crème. They named it Hero 2.0 and labeled it the show of all shows. Uroš and Vito are able to enjoy their work, they are able to give themselves a pat on their backs and have fun, they are able to get on each other and other people’s nerves, they are able to quarrel. Uroš and Vito are bold enough to go all the way in what they are doing. And when one gives one’s all, this leaves a mark, a trace. People either love you or they don’t. But on the stage, in the theatre hall, when they are trying to address each of us, we are mostly willing to go all the way with them, too.”

The Actors of All Actors from the Show of All Shows – Portrait of the Week / Melita Forstnerič Hajnšek, Večer, November 3 2018

Let’s Go Get Coffee: Interview with Uroš Kaurin / Miha Dajčman, Večer, January 29 2020

»I don’t subscribe to the idea »we are Maribor«; I prefer »all of us are Maribor«

Uroš Kaurin is a member of the KUD Moment and the ensemble of the Maribor Puppet Theatre

The Maribor-based actor Uroš Kaurin has returned to his hometown, Maribor, after a decade of working for the Mladinsko Theatre in Ljubljana. Actually, he has been active in Maribor for a number of years in the KUD Moment, a non-governmental and non-profit organisation where they are creating and developing independent theatre (they are part of the GT22 community), and since the 2018/2019 season he has been a member of the Maribor Puppet Theatre. Many recall his role in the youth film Gremo mi po svoje (We’ll Go Our Own Way). We met the Borštnik prize winner (he won the Young Actor Award and the award for an exceptional collective creation in 2010, and the Acting Award for the performance Hero 2.0 – The Show of All Shows with Vito Weis in 2018) over coffee in Bona Dea, a cafè near the GT22. »Perhaps it’s not a fancy place, the coffee may not be the best in town, perhaps, but we spend the majority of time here when we’re at the GT22. I know Tjaša, Miranda and Dule here, and I feel very much at home«, Kaurin explained his choice of the cafè. He was drinking espresso.

Why have you returned to Maribor?

Right after finishing my studies at the Slovenian Academy of Theatre, I went to Amsterdam and studied choreography for one year. I came back to Ljubljana, got a job at the SMG, and stayed there for ten years. In the beginning, I was very active in the independent scene. Three years ago, we at the KUD Moment started to think about applying for a public tender with a programme and I found myself pulled in. And since Nika Bezeljak joined our team, I have felt more of my mission here. My partner and I started considering buying a house, and discussed how we want to live. You can stay in Ljubljana and moan all the time about how you’d really want that and how expensive it all is, or you can come to Maribor, where you can get what you want for considerably less money. The pragmatic part played the major role. I also knew that a post opened up at the Maribor Puppet Theatre, and it was tempting because I knew I could also work for the KUD Moment.

What does this pragmatism of choosing Maribor really imply?

I have actually come back. In the beginning, I would say that I wasn’t led by pragmatism alone, but that this was an ideological choice. And it was: I really wanted to move from the centre, away from Ljubljana. Also due to the saturation of the theatre scene, which is greater in Ljubljana. In Ljubljana, you always encounter the same people, you always talk to the same people. Though it’s a bigger town, the little balloon around you is more solid. In Maribor, I don’t feel a balloon around me at all, though my social circle is mostly confined to my coworkers. In Maribor, you have to work on multiple levels. In Ljubljana, you’re quickly satisfied with a few friends who come to see your performances, and the rest can simply be labeled off as dumb for not coming. While there is a different line of thinking for me in Maribor: »I am the one who’s stupid for not being able to attract people to the theatre, to make them see the performance.« From this point of view, I enjoy being here. I’m fighting more.

So you’re saying one has to fight to achieve any results in Maribor?

No, I wouldn’t say that. I’d say that in Ljubljana it’s taken for granted that a project or performance you make is considered art. After a performance, you hear people say: »cool, dude, cool«, but you don’t have the slightest clue about what you’ve seen, why, and who it is meant for. In Maribor, we get more quickly to »it’s cool, man, but I don’t get what this is«, which is liberating. You don’t have to worry if you don’t understand something.

In December, Vito Weis and you presented the third part of Heroes (Hero 3.0 – More Than Words) – on Saturday, there will be a repeat performance at the II. Gimnazija Secondary School. The first two parts of the series were a great success – why?

During the greatest part of the creative process, we were talking about why are we doing theatre in the first place, what we find cool, how could people think about theatre. This showed. We are the ones to usher people in, we give out tickets, we rip them, we greet people, we sell T-shirts, we give a nice farewell to everyone. Moreover, the performance is good, witty, open, one doesn’t have to be linked with theatre to get it, in this sense it is human, but at the same time, I feel, it does keep up the quality. We don’t »spare ourselves« in any way. We show respect to people, the audience. This is not »you’re dumb because you don’t get it«, we prefer »hey, we would like to tell you something, come and we’ll try«. Tjaša and Miranda still haven’t come to see the performances, I’ve been massaging them for quite some time, but they won’t give in.

You lived in Ljubljana. In some aspects, the municipality of Maribor follows the policies of the municipality of Ljubljana. Do you think this is good?

Not at all. I’ve read a few interviews in »Grema na kafe«. I’ve read about people missing the development in tourism. And I ask myself if these people have stayed in Ljubljana for more than two days in the last year. I really wouldn’t want this to happen here. Let’s be a small city in which people from different parts of town, for example Limbuš, Tezno and Nova vas, know that they have their place in this town, that they mean something. Because the industry has gone to dust, tourism will save the day? It won’t, because it will destroy the town. I would leave the town centre just as it is. I would invest into Tezno, Pobrežje, these outer parts of the town, I would make sure there are good kindergartens and parks in these areas, I would take care of the forest Stražun, and the sewer in Limbuš. I don’t care about facades, we need to take care of the basic stuff. People need to feel equal, they need to talk, which doesn’t mean they should necessarily agree. And I wish people wouldn’t say »I won’t go to Bona Dea, it’s a shithole of a bar«, because it’s my shithole, both waitresses and the boss are nice to me. The gentrification of the town centre isn’t something desirable. In a column in the newspaper Večer, somebody has made a good paint when they argued that it wouldn’t be a good idea to close the town centre for cars but leave it open for electric ones – what we’d actually accomplish would be making the centre accessible to people with more money. When there were elections for the town mayor, we heard that Arsenovič had a taste for art and the love for cultural heritage. If you’re a businessman and you are in the hospitality industry, you may set up a fancy establishment in order to get an added value. The added value will give the whisky or beer in your restaurant a higher price. It doesn’t matter whether you have a great feeling for art, this is a strategic decision so you can sell your services for a higher price. It’s great that cultural heritage gets to be preserved, but we shouldn’t mix these things. As if the care for cultural heritage automatically meant charity. It doesn’t, it’s an investment. But nothing’s wrong with that, basically, either.

We can’t allow ourselves to think about town in anything but »our« terms – the terms of all of us. »We are Maribor« isn’t the best message, because all of us are Maribor. If you want to separate people at this moment, you can do that in a second. But the fact remains that we all are Maribor. At the KUD Moment and the Puppet Theatre, we keep that in mind a lot. We can’t allow, we can’t let ourselves think about this town as anything else but the whole, all of us equally. Even if we consider the municipality as the town service that takes care of the town and is thus above people, we are mistaken. If we say »all of us are Maribor«, we mean we are all on the same level. We’re equal. Somebody who thinks they are above us would be mistaken, and if we are the ones who think there’s somebody above us, we’re mistaken. We should help each other, be kind. Then things can change easily enough. And of course I could have the same thoughts in Ljubljana, but here in Maribor I am more motivated to have them. I will now be made fun of and called a local patriot, but there’s not only some kind of backwardness in this, it’s also a matter of the slow tempo and tranquillity. In small towns, people know each other, they stop when they meet in the street, sometimes you sit down for coffee though you haven’t intended to. This also means you are relaxed and you don’t think about your work all the time, you’re not all about productivity.

What are your wishes for Maribor?

My wishes for Maribor and Ljubljana are the same. I would like people in Baghdad, Ljubljana, Ptuj, Ciringa to know that they are not alone and to enable others to be kind. Which means you need to be kind yourself, because by being kind, you are giving all the others the permission to be kind to you, too. What we are doing in life is always addressed to others, because we are never alone. How will anyone be kind to me, if I am not kind myself. And we would like to live with this feeling ,characteristic of dogs – a dog is always happy to see his human companion, and always respects them. This is why I wish the same for Maribor and Ljubljana.

Let’s Go Get Coffee: Interview with Uroš Kaurin / Miha Dajčman, Večer, January 29 2020