Maribor Theatre Festival

55th Maribor Theatre Festival

12th – 25th October 2020 | Maribor, Slovenia

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55th Maribor Theatre Festival

Thursday, 6 June 2019

Festival Preparations in Full Swing

With the theatre season drawing to a close, the programme for the 54th Maribor theatre Festival is ready. In the second half of October, Maribor will once again be the epicentre of the theatre (and related) meetings and exchanges, and also ofcritical reflection about the actual state of theatre and society. Conceived to be international and inclusive, the Maribor Theatre Festival remains, after decades that also included tumultuous spells, the mainSlovenian theatre festival and competition, and a platform that is increasingly developing in the direction of international affirmation of Slovenian theatre, training, audience development, and connections. New and expanded contents dictate that we retain the fortnight format we introduced last year, expand the content once more to a number of venues around town; along with its home stages at the Drama SNT Maribor, an important part of the programme will take place at the Maribor Puppet Theatre and elsewhere in the city.
The Competition Programme this year will present twelve productions, the choice of the festival selector – a playwright, director and theatre educator Matjaž Zupančič – and an extensive selection of Slovenian and international producers in the Accompanying Programme. The programme follows the principle that any selected production is selected for an important achievement, a noticeable shift in the theatre season, and that the competition and accompanying programmes together allow us a relatively comprehensive insight into the actual state of the Slovenian theatre art. The performances in the Competition Programme and both selections for young audiences will be followed by discussions with artists. Honouring its mission, this year’s edition of the festival is emphasising the complexity and breadth of theatre creativity, offering a wide range of aesthetics and different approaches, and with that trying to encourage diversity and connectedness in our theatre space and expression.
Recently, we’ve also been trying to take advantage the ever increasing international facet of the festival and use it as a showcase, a platform to promote and assert Slovenian theatre to foreign selectors, artistic directors, critics and journalists, therefore, the majority of the performance will be surtitled in English.
Development of new audiences and inclusion of international students were styled into a permanent programme segment last year, Young and Student Theatres will be expanded and joined by foreign partners, and in collaboration with the Academy of Theatre, Radio, Film and Television, University of Ljubljana, we’re developing different ways to actively include students. Together with the Association of Theatre Critics and Researchers of Slovenia, we are preparing an international symposium about theatre criticism, with the International Theatre Institute, an important regional meeting with a number of foreign guests. Once again, the festival and the Slovenian Association of Dramatic Artists will prepare the Day of Slovenian Theatre Artists, a day of encounters and meetings, but also, on this occasion, the Association will organise a conference about the situation of actors and the measures to improve the working conditions of theatre artists.With the Contemporary Dance Platform we will host a dance performance and two performance pieces, and programme-wise, we’re connecting with the Maribor Puppet Theatre and the City of Women. Maribor Art Gallery will host the Maribor edition of the Slovenian theatre Exhibition The Space within the Space: Scenography in Slovenia before 1991. A book dedicated to the last year’s Borštnik Ring winner Janez Škof is about to go into print, the second one in the new festival book series Borštnik Ring, and a bilingual photo monograph presenting the artistic portraits of the Borštnik Ring Award winners (photographed by Primož Korošec) will round up the publishing endeavours. It will be accompanied by a photo exhibition at the Razstavišče Vetrinjski venue.

All this (and more) will be this year’s Maribor Theatre Festival, the festival team is looking at some intense months to prepare, but we’re also already looking forward to the festival meetings! 

Aleš Novak, Artistic Director

A report about the 53rd Maribor Theatre Festival in 2018

Between 15 and 28 October 22018, the 53rd Maribor Theatre Festival addressed 7,591 spectators, a number of viewers of the live television broadcast of the closing and awards ceremony and fourteen foreign guests of the festival. Eighty-four events included 31 theatre productions in five different programme segments, international projects, debates, round tables, symposia, workshops, trainings, concerts, exhibitions and publications.
The core of the 53rd festival were the 10 productions in the Competition Programme, chosen by the selector, a dramaturg, theatre critic and researcher Zala Dobovšek. The Accompanying Programme also consisted of 10 performances, and they were completed by 4 international performances (from Croatia, Macedonia, and Italy), among them Compagnie Pippo Delbono with the productions Vangelo/Gospel and La Gioia/Joy. The productions graced 6 theatre stages and 9 Maribor venues hosted additional 53 events.
We added an introductory part to the Festival and aimed it at young people and developing new audiences (Young Theatre). We expanded the inclusion of students into an international student platform (Student Theatre), where foreign theatre academies participate. Together with the Slovenian Association of Dramatic Artists, we celebrated the Day of Slovenian Theatre Artists, and with the International Theatre Institute their high jubilee. We also introduced the new book series Borštnik Ring, with the first book dedicated to the 2017 Borštnik Ring award-winner Saša Pavček.

We introduced several other organisational changes:
Talks about the performances were scheduled immediately after the performance and were moderated by Rok Bozovičar, a critic, author and the selector of the 55th Festival.The presentations of new books on performing arts were concentrated into a single day, and the connections to the International Theatre Institute and European Theatre Convention were strengthened, and we also realised the first practical festival training project, which receivedEuropean funding. We shot a daily video journal of the festival events. We brought in a specialist for working with youth, who took over the coordination, and 30 volunteers were strategically included in the 53rd Maribor Theatre Festival.
The expert jury for the Borštnik Ring Award, consisting of Aleš Novak, Saša Pavček, Blaž Lukan, Mojca Jan Zoran in Barbara Orel decided that the Ring should be awarded to Janez Škof.
The award of the Association of Theatre Critics and Researchers of Slovenia for the best production of the previous season went to Together, performed by Leja Jurišić and Marko Mandić (Pekinpah, Via Negativa in CUK Kino Šiška).
The expert jury for the Competition Programme consisting of Simona Hamer, Goran Ferčec (CRO), Nika Arhar, Marko Sosič and Uršula Cetinski bestowed 12 awards:

  • Borštnik Award for Dramaturgy Matic Starina for dramaturgy in the productions A Midsummer Night’s Dream performed by the Ljubljana City Theatre and The Visoko Chronicle performed by Slovenian National Theatre Drama Ljubljana.
  • Borštnik Award for Set Design Branko Hojnik for the set design in the production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream performed by the Ljubljana City Theatre. 
  • Borštnik Award for Music Branko Rožman for the music in the production Our Class co-produced by the Prešeren Theatre Kranj, Ptuj City Theatre and Mini Teater Ljubljana, A Midsummer Night’s Dream produced by the Ljubljana City Theatre and The Visoko Chronicle by the Slovenian National Theatre Drama Ljubljana.
  • Borštnik Award for Young Actress Tamara Avguštin for her performance in the production The Visoko Chronicle by the Slovenian National Theatre Drama Ljubljana.
  • Four Borštnik Awards for Acting: Uroš Kaurin and Vito Weis for their performances in the production Hero 2.0 – The Show of All Shows coproduced by KUD Moment and EN-KNAP Institute; Matej Puc for his performance in the production A Midsummer Night’s Dream by the Ljubljana City Theatre; Aljaž Jovanović for his performance in The Visoko Chronicle by the Slovenian National Theatre Drama Ljubljana; The ensemble of the performance Our Class, co-produced by the Prešeren Theatre Kranj, Ptuj City Theatre and Mini Teater Ljubljana.
  • Borštnik Award for Best Directing Nina Rajić Kranjac for directing Our Class, produced by the Prešeren Theatre Kranj, Ptuj City Theatre and Mini Teater Ljubljana
  • Borštnik Jury Award Together for a unique performative gesture; in the co-production of Pekinpah, Via Negativa and Kino Šiška – Centre for Urban Culture
  • Borštnik Grand Prix for the Best Production 6 directed by Žiga Divjak and co-produced by the Mladinsko Theatre and Maska Institute

Alongside the Ministry of Culture and the Municipality of Maribor, who are the main financiers, 45 public and private organisations, supporters and sponsors have supported this year’s Festival, many of them for the first time. The Festival also generated over 40% more of its income than a year before, and increased its media visibility by 10%.

Competition Programme

Programme (by the date of the première)

  • Ivor Martinić, based on the screenplay by Luchino Visconti, Enrico Medioli and Nicola Badalucco: THE DAMNED. Director Dalibor Matanić, Drama SNT Maribor.
  • Simona Semenič: NO TITLE YET. Director Tomi Janežič, Mladinsko Theatre.
  • Tena Štivičić: FIREFLIES. Director Nina Rajić Kranjac, Ljubljana City Theatre.
  • Nejc Gazvoda: A SILENT BREATH. Director Nejc Gazvoda, Ljubljana City Theatre.
  • Anton Podbevšek: INVENTOR ON EARTH. Director Bara Kolenc, Anton Podbevšek Teater.
  • Ivo Svetina: ON THE NAME OF THE MOTHER. Director Ivica Buljan, SNT Drama Ljubljana.
  • William Shakespeare: MACBETH. Director Janusz Kica, SNT Nova Gorica.
  • Ivan Cankar: AT DAWN. Director Žiga Divjak, Prešernovo gledališče Kranj.
  • Based on motifs from Dane Zajc’s play Children of the River: RIVER, RIVER. Director Dragan Živadinov, Delak Institute.
  • Molière: THE MISANTHROPE. Director Nina Rajić Kranjac, Slovene People’s Theatre Celje.
  • Rainer Werner Fassbinder: ALI: FEAR EATS YOUR SOUL. Director Sebastijan Horvat, SNT Drama Ljubljana.
  • Boris Nikitin: THE OPPOSITE. Director Boris Nikitin, Jan Krmelj, Mladinsko Theatre.

Explanation of the Selection for the Competition Programme of the 54th Maribor Theatre Festival in 2019

For a while now, the selection of the productions for the Maribor Theatre festival has been considered an authorial act of each current selector. This fact has made my decision to accept the invitation to be this year’s selector somewhat easier. Of course with the consciousness that every freedom – even authorial – means responsibility. The central national theatre festival is not understood simply as the review of the most interesting, high-quality and breakthrough theatre events of the past season; it also has a competition charge. An interesting question arises: if it’s a competition, what are the rules? Who can participate, what gets compared, what is the discipline? Although the statute of the Maribor Theatre Festival lays some ground rules, the question actually remains open. And among other things reminds us that contemporary theatre is a wide palette of stage practices, where things are not merely good or bad, but above all diverse. Hard to compare. Therefore I am aware that it is not just the right, but also a duty of each current selector to set clear criteria for the competition programme. Criteria that of course change, just as the gauge and the taste of every year’s selection change. On the other hand, it is not wrong to be aware that competition in the field of art is always problematic, and that theatre is not mathematics. Art has always been, first and foremost, also breaking directives and rules. It is therefore necessary to look at the festival as a whole. I believe that every performance selected for the Maribor Theatre Festival is indeed a festival performance; regardless of which programme it has been selected into.
My selector’s agenda is based on three fundamental and interlocked categories. I call them acting, thinking ad staging. For the competition programme of this year’s festival, I thus select theatre which links its creative endeavours to theatre acting. This decision of mine is not unconnected to the namesake of the festival and its prestigious award. Theatre acting changes, develops and is today of course different than it used to be. And theatre festivals are also different – but it is hard for me to imagine the Maribor Theatre Festival that has lost its interest in acting, actors, and superior achievements in contemporary art of acting.
At the same time, exciting and quality theatre is, to me, always also a place for thinking. Primarily theatre thinking, which means that a thought can be staged in its own co-genial theatre language. It’s about both: thinking and staging. Theatre without thought is empty and theatre that does nothing but think is inefficient. As theatre. Only a staging can, in the theatre field, create foundation for every thought, concept, intellectual endeavour. Loosely paraphrasing Hegel, I could say an idea that has to point at itself from the outside doesn’t hold as an idea that can reveal itself. This thought is not meaningless for my understanding and evaluation of theatre art. Creative processes in contemporary theatre are undoubtedly guided by theatre directing. The latter’s innovative approaches are not without risk: those who fear mistakes will never find anything new. I paid attention to the performances that were brave in this sense. Regardless of the idea and the main point of the theatre production – an original interpretation of a drama score, and engaged attitude to social reality, searching for pure theatre madness and poetry and so on –, its thought must always, in the end, also catch its theatre sense. And finally, everything can be staged in two ways: the interesting one and the not interesting one. If I had to decide between several performances of equal standing according to these criteria, I – consistent with my authorial freedom – chose the performances I deemed produced in a more interesting way.
But within this framework, my selection offers very different and diverse productions. For a competition programme on the national level I thought it productive to have several different theatre poetics meet. Of course, with the understanding that theatres start working from very unequal footings and production scopes. For me, this was not about the review of one, but a confrontation of the different. It was about the creative polemics between different performance concepts, aesthetics and strategies. Which did convince me on an objective level as well – regardless of whether any of the selected productions might be a little closer to my private theatre taste. And it is also for this reason that eleven different poetics will be presented at this year’s festival. I am also pleased that I could, among others, include interesting stagings of new Slovenian texts into the selection of the national theatre festival. In the times of the postmodern recycling of the old and the déjà vu, I find original writing for theatre a transfusion of fresh blood into the body and soul of the current stage practices. And no less important than the one that innovative production of a superior classical drama texts brings. And all their translations. Speaking of which, I believe that a new translation of an author as demanding as Shakespeare is a worthy event in itself. Although at the same time I notice that this type of act resonates far less in the local theatre and media landscape than any stage improvisation.
I believe that there is an exciting and full-blooded festival in front of you, which will among other thing testify that contemporary theatre artists are in good shape. Top shape even, at times. I think that in the light of all the actual troubles and problems in which not only theatres, but contemporary art and culture in general, find themselves, this must be emphasised. This emphasis of course doesn’t cancel the critical self-reflection, which must problematise the obsolete patterns of cultural and political self-evidencies. But if anywhere, the reform is needed in the part that would interrupt, stop – and above all, simplify – the over-bureaucratisation that is increasingly smothering the agility and artistic ambitiousness of the Slovenian theatres. The illogical bureaucracy forces theatres into a situation when they have to busy themselves with themselves and the regulations that in theatre are absurd, rather than working on producingliving art that is their only objective and mission. Everybody knows that what’s good for museums is not necessarily good for the theatre – and yet everybody must follow the same regulative. Reforms are necessary, but they must be well thought through, so that we don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.
Why well thought through? Because there is not any doubt that Slovenian theatre, when it comes to talent, creative thinking, and sometimes also to production standards, is high up within the European theatre production. And that at the same time we have no guarantee that it will remain so. Even though today we’re talking about a national festival, we must state clearly that Slovenian theatre and drama have been for years experiencing glorious and resounding success all over the world. So, personally, I wish that the time of this year’s festival would also be the time of theatre self-confidence. We can have different opinions about whether art can change the world, but there is no doubt that it is making it more humane. Which, considering the times that we live in, is not at all unimportant.

Matjaž Zupančič, Selector of the Competition Programme of the 54th Maribor Theatre Festival

Accompanying Programme

  • Manlio Santanelli: QUEEN MOTHER. Director Damir Zlatar Frey. Theatre Koper and Ptuj City Theatre.
  • Duncan Macmillan: LUNGS. Director Žiga Divjak. SNT Drama Ljubljana.
  • THE RITE OF SPRING. Director Matjaž Farič. Ljubljana Puppet Theatre.
  • GROSSE ERWARTUNGENǀGREAT EXPECTATIONS. Director Beton Ltd. Bunker, Ljubljana.
  • IMAGE SNATCHERS. Emanat (co-produced by Klub Gromka and Maska Ljubljana).
  • EXPOSED. Choreography and concept: Rosana Hribar. Flota, Ljubljana and Flota, zavod, Murska Sobota (co-produced by Dance Theatre Ljubljana and Orlandina Institute).
  • ALIEN EXPRESS: SECOND FLIGHT. A project by Gašper Kunšek and Žigan Krajnčan. Flota, Ljubljana in Flota, zavod, Murska sobota (co-produced by Kino Šiška and Dijaški dom Ivana Cankarja).
  • Amit Lahav: THE WEDDING. Director Amit Lahav. GECKO (UK). Opening performance of the 54th Maribor theatre Festival.
  • Daniele Villa: OVERLOAD. Director Daniele Villa. Sotterraneo (IT).
  • Milena Bogavac: JAMI DISTRICT. Director Kokan Mladenović. Bitef teatar, Beograd (RS), Tivat Centre for Culture (MNE), Festival MASZK, Szeged (HU) and Think tank studio, Novi Sad (RS).
  • Ivan Penović: THE CATALAN. Director Ivan Penović. Umjetnčka organizacija RUPER and Teatar &TD (CRO).
  • Based on motifs from Hannah Arendt: EICHMANN IN JERUSALEM. Director Jernej Lorenci. Zagreb Youth Theatre ZKM (CRO).
  • SONG. Concept and choreography Mala Kline. ELIAS 2069, Mercedes Klein (co-produced by Pekinpah, Španski boric Culture Centre/EN-KNAP Institute, Platform 0090 Antwerpen, CUK Kino Šiška and Nomad Dance Academy /CoFestival/). Performed in cooperation with the Contemporary Dance Platform.
  • DE FACTO. A project by Leja Jurišić and Milko Lazarj. Pekinpah and Leja Jurišić (co-produced by Cankarjev dom). Performed in cooperation with the Contemporary Dance Platform.
  • THE SELFIE CONCERT. A performance by the author Ivo Dimchev. Performed in cooperation with the Contemporary Dance Platform.
  • GEORGES. A project by Julika Mayer (DE) and Mylène Benoit (FR). Contour Progressif (coproduced by SACD, Festival d’Avignon). Performed in cooperation with the Maribor Puppet Theatre.

About the Opening Performance

Gecko is an internationally acclaimed physical theatre led by the Israeli performer, choreographer, director, writer and lecturer Amit Lahav. Their latest show The Wedding is inspired by the complex human nature in constant battle of opposites. An intertwining of culturally and geographically diverse wedding ceremonies and alienated contractual obligations shows a dystopian world in which we are all brides in an arranged marriage to a social system. What are the fundamental conditions? Is it even possible to think about a divorce?

The message is importantly defined by the sound and the music – a clever synthesis of familiar tunes and authorial pieces articulates and emotionally builds the story and collates it into a performative whole. The soundscape is co-created by a mindful breath and the use of twelve languages (Basque, Serbian, Cantonese, Norwegian, English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Georgian, German, Welsh and Russian) – at no time does anybody in the theatre understand everything. The closing thought about the connected community as a hope for the future is expressed through a chorus singing in the thirteenth language – Esperanto, the hopeful.

Young Theatre , 14 to 16 October 2019

This programme segment creates a platform to confront the views, needs and questions that emerge at the crossing of quality culture and art and contemporary education. It invites young viewers and their educators to the theatre.

  • THE RIGHT TO BE A HUMAN. Authorial production of young people14+. Director Marko Bulc. Theatre laboratory of the Ljubljana Puppet Theatre. A practical introduction to the discussion The Right to Theatre.
  • Matija Solce on the motifs of M. A. Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita: SEANSA BULGAKOV. And object-and-puppet brainstorming 16+. Director Matija Solce. Ljubljana Puppet Theatre.
  • MANKIND. A dance between lightness and dark 6+. Choreographer Jack Timmermans. De Stilte (NL).
  • WAVES. Stage surfing 14+. Concept and direction Agnès Limbos and Gregory Houben. CIE Gare Centrale (BE).
  • Nassim Soleimanpour: WHITE RABBIT, RED RABBIT. A theatre experiment 13+. Nassim Soleimanpour (IR). Performed by Uroš Kaurin and Vito Weis. Maribor Theatre Festival.
  • Jack London, Tomáš Jarkovský, Jakub Vašíček: WHITE FANG. A multimedia adventure 10+. Director Jakub Vašíček. theatre DRAK (CZ).
  • The right to theatre. An introductory debate about the contemporary performing practices for and with young people.
  • Pedagogical principles in theatre. Presentation of good practices. Theatre DRAK, De Stilte, STI, FBS.
  • A performance under a magnifying glass. A guided viewing of the performance Seansa Bulgakov. STI.
  • 5 workshops: Theatre communication 1 and 2 (First scene, Drama SNT Maribor), Theatre of objects (KUD Moment), Acting with the camera (Theatre DRAK), 1‒2's (De Stilte).
  • Talks about the performances

The programme is co-created by the two project of cultural and artistic education in the field of theatre First Scene: Theatre as a space of learning of symbolic languages (Drama SNT Maribor) in Gleda(l)išče (Slovenian Theatre Institute). The projects are co-financed by the European Union from the European Social Fund and the Republic of Slovenia.

Student Theatre

The programme segment is formed into two work groups consisting of the representatives from the MTF and UL AGRFT, where in the collaborative thinking process, new student festival content is born.

  • Gabriel García Marquez: SHE ONLY CAME TO USE THE PHONE. Director and author of adaptation Rajna Racz. Production of the 3rd year of theatre directing and radio ADU Zagreb (CRO).
  • CASTLE. KAFKA. Production of students of acting (class of Prof. Olega Kudryashova) GITIS Moscow (RU).
  • Dino Pešut: OLYMPIA STADION. Director Maša Pelko. Production of the VII Semester ofSA, TD and DPA UL AGRFT.
  • Authorial performance based on the motifs from R. Vitrac and D. Jovanović: POWER TO THE CHILDREN. Director Luka Marcen. Production of the V semester of SA, TD and DPA UL AGRFT.
  • Based on the motifs of The Bald Soprano by Eugène Ionesca: FIRE. Director Živa Bizovičar. Production of the IV semester SA and TD UL AGRFT.
  • Talks about the performances. UL AGRFT.
  • Borštnik Experiment: WHITE RABBIT, RED RABBIT. Maribor Theatre Festival and UL AGRFT.
  • A three-academy workshop. ADU Zagreb, GITIS Mocow and UL AGRFT.
  • Gecko’s world. A seminar with the GECKO artistic ensemble. Maribor Theatre Festival.
  • A minute drama. International project. UL AGRFT and Maribor Theatre Festival.
  • Borštnik blog. Maribor Theatre Festival and UL AGRFT.

About the blog
The blog is a new feature of this year’s festival. The initiative came from the festival and conceived by the students of UL AGRFT, who will also edit it together with their mentors Tomaž Toporišič and Aldo Milohnić, with the support of external experts. The blog will include texts of different styles, genres and roles (in collaboration with the Department of Film and Television, UL AGRFT), photography, artistic reflection of the festival etc. The purpose of the blog is a live and lively festival reflection, fresh in its thought and sovereign in its stance.

Expert Programme

We create the expert programme with a number of partners, including the Association of Theatre Critics and Researchers of Slovenia, Slovenian Association of Dramatic Artists, International Theatre Institute, Slovenian Theatre Institute, City of Women – Association for the Promotion of Women in Culture,Scientific Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Nagib Association, Goethe-Institut Ljubljana, Austrian Cultural Forum Ljubljana.

The calendar of events with participating expert with be available in September.


Borštnik Ring
This year’s edition is dedicated to last year’s winner of this prestigious lifetime achievement award for acting, the actor from the SNT Drama Ljubljana Janez Škof. A comprehensive, rich and revealing read was edited by Ksenija Repina, the authors of the texts (as they appear in the book) are: Aleš Novak, Saša Pavček, Vilma Štritof, Tea Rogelj, Melita Forstnerič Hajnšek, Vito Taufer, Blaž Lukan and Aljaž Jovanović.

Portraits of the Borštnik Ring Award winners
In the last two years, the photographer Primož Korošec created a cycle of artistic portraits of this most prestigious award for acting. A monograph with expressive photos speaks about the diversity of the expression of Slovenian theatre actors, their multi-faceted appearance and at the same time, humanity. The publication is an acknowledgement and a bow to the great creators of the Slovenian theatre space and an imprint of their eternal acting genius.


54th Maribor Theatre Festival

Artistic director Aleš Novak
Managing director SNT Maribor Danilo Rošker
Competition programme selector Matjaž Zupančič

Artistic board
Neda Rusjan Bric, Nenad Jelesijević, Tina Kosi, Tone Partljič, Tomaž Toporišič


Jury of Experts for the competition programme
Uršula Cetinski, Andreja Kopač, Dora R. Podolski, Aldo Milohnić and Giorgio Ursini Uršič

Jury of Experts for the Borštnik Ring Award
Tea Rogelj,Barbara Orel, Tomi Janežič, Janez Škof and Aleš Novak

Production team

Assistant to artistic director and public relations Mojca Kolar

Executive Producer Daša Šprinčnik
Programme associate (Young Theatre, Student Theatre) Mojca Redjko
Project consultant Miha Marinč

Designer of Festival visual identity Radovan Jenko
Publication and web content editor Ksenija Repina
Location assistant Ana Gabrovec
Volunteer coordinator Marja Guček
Technical manager Matic Gselman


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