Susan Sontag

Alice in Bed

Slovenian National Theatre Drama Ljubljana


20.06.2021, Sunday / 19:30 / Old Hall /

Opening night November 8th 2020, Small Stage 
Running time 1 hour 20 minutes. No intermission.

Director and Set designer Dorian Šilec Petek
Translator Darja Dominkuš
Dramaturg Staša Prah
Costume designer Tina Bonča
Composer Mitja Vrhovnik Smrekar
Language consultant Tatjana Stanič
Lighting designer Andrej Hajdinjak

Alice James Maša Derganc 
Nurse Myrtha Sabina Kogovšek 
Father Vojko Zidar 
Harry, Alice's brother Saša Tabaković 
Margaret Fuller Iva Babić 
Emily Dickinson Eva Jesenovec 
Kundry Veronika Drolc 
A Young man Timon Šturbej 

Alice in Bed is the first and the only fully published play by the famous American philosopher and literary icon of the 1960s, Susan Sontag. In her play, Sontag reflects deeply on women, their pain and self-awareness. The play, which Sontag divided into eight scenes and described as fiction, is based on a real person, Alice James, the only daughter and youngest of five children of an extremely prominent American family in the nineteenth century. Alice’s father, the heir to a large business estate, became famous as a writer on religious and moral topics. The eccentric man of strong will, who lost his leg in an accident at the age of thirteen, was the foremost teacher of his children and took them to Europe several times at an early age. When Alice James was thirty, she was said to confront her father with her desire to commit suicide. He severely scolded her at first, but then he gave his consent. In 1884, she moved to London, where her brother Henry (Harry) had settled down. There she spent the next seven and a half years, chained to bed, until her untimely death from breast cancer. Interestingly, Alice James received the same education as her brothers, although this was not common in the 19th century. Despite seemingly equal opportunities to develop her own potential, she remained numb and petrified in her room. She simply did not know what to do with all this knowledge, with her brilliant mind and incredible sense of humour – ultimately, her genius was her own undoing. 

Directed by Dorian Šilec Petek, the performance accurately captures the quiet, intimate, melancholic and sad, but at the same time calm, philosophical tone of drama. Sound and lighting are minimalistic, complimented by soft, unobtrusive light and almost silent staging approach. Bright and almost sterile costumes provide "a clinical" undertone of the play and dictated "pathology" of Alice's condition. Directorial convincing departure from this narrative becomes evident with the unfolding of the performance when Alice's perspective appears less and less "pathological" and more and more credible as one of the possible alternatives. The key to this approach is the excellent performance of Maša Derganc; her acting, complimented with such a minimalist sound, lighting and stage movement, becomes the focus of the performance. Her leading role requires masterful transitioning between various complex psychological states; Derganc convincingly puts them into practice - not only through words but also through her facial expressions. Alice in Bed is a balanced, harmonious stage work with a good rhythm and the atmosphere.

Anja Radaljac, Delo, 19. 9. 2019






Dorian Šilec Petek (b. 1995) creates in the field of theatre direction and scenography. His works have been presented at Triennale di Milano, FLARE – Festival of Radical Theatre (GB), Istropolitana Theatre Festival (SK), Maribor Theatre Festival (SI), Operadagen Rotterdam (NL) and Watermill Centre, New York (USA). He directed several original theatre projects such as Stabat Mater: Passion; The Others, the Blind; At Least I Need not Kiss; You Need the Glass and You Need the Milk. He designed sets and visuals for several performances in SNG Drama Ljubljana (SI), Ljubljana City Theatre (SI), SLG Celje (SI), SNG Opera and Ballet Ljubljana (SI), Carmina Slovenica (SI) and Watermill Centre (USA). In SNG Drama Ljubljana (SI) he directed Mary’s Tears (by P. Voranc, 2018), Amelia E. (based on the play The One Who Survived by M.G. Štromar, 2019) and Alice in Bed (by S. Sontag, 2019).


SNT Drama Ljubljana is the central drama theatre in Slovenia, with the largest, most recognizable and respected ensemble, which consists of 43 actresses and actors. Drama's repertory includes classical, contemporary and experimental theatre productions.

Alice in Bed <em>Photo: Peter Uhan</em>
Photo: Peter Uhan
Alice in Bed <em>Photo: Peter Uhan</em>
Photo: Peter Uhan
Alice in Bed <em>Photo: Peter Uhan</em>
Photo: Peter Uhan
Alice in Bed <em>Photo: Peter Uhan</em>
Photo: Peter Uhan