Meta Hočevar: Play Spaces & Spaces of my time

Book presentation at the Maribor Theatre Festival


22.10.2020, Thursday / 18:00 / Chamber stage /

Discussion moderator Petra Pogorevc
Featuring Meta Hočevar, Tomaž Toporišič, actresses and actors of the Maribor Drama 

Running time of presentation 1 hour. No intermission. 

Immediately after its publication in 1989, Meta Hočevar’s book Play Spaces changed the views and interpretations of the phenomena of the Slovenian, Yugoslav, and also European theatre. It showed and illustrated that scenography is no longer a separate space element, to be added add to the production, a part of scenery, a painted back wall, an interior – quite the opposite! It is something that blends with other elements and includes other components that make up a performance. Theatre space – Meta Hočevar would call it "play space" – is a space in which everything merges and in which we need all our senses. It is also a space which we need to understand – just like Paul Klee must understand a painting – as something that is also a temporal marker. For Meta Hočevar, the play spaces are thus no longer scenography. The second printing of this book is for all the spectators who wish to understand and read theatre through its spatial and temporal components. These are linked to the stories of dramatic and non-dramatic texts and with the live presence of the actor who is only just setting up theatre space. This seminal book will – together with the new book Prostori mojega časa (The Spaces of My Time), which is dedicated to the phenomenology of spaces of theatre as the creator’s time – form a whole which will help us enter the spaces and times of theatre, and at the same time allow us to think these spaces together with the author who creates and explains them. 

Prostori mojega časa (The Spaces of My Time) uses selected examples of drama texts which display and demand different methods of approaching the creation of play space, researches relationships and mutual influences between the text – the spoken thought – and the space, between the actors and the space and other relationships in the staging. In the book, Meta Hočevar studies the space and the time in different situations, particularly in theatre and architecture. She tackles the space in connection with time, the space-time, chronotopos. In a theatre production the starting point is a story, that is, a play or any other action that determines the length of the look. The staged story defines time in space. The difference between other spaces and the play space is that the time flows differently and that it is somehow denser. With short-term interventions into space, such as staging of an event, or permanent ones, such as architecture, we change the space: "Space. It is always present, in thoughts, in reality, in fantasy. Without it, there’s nothing. It’s a proof, an alibi, a perpetrator, a saviour, and it terrorises people. When you enter a forest or a house, it shows you where you are and directs you where you can turn, where you can go. 
The space limits and liberates. Every production creates its own system of relationships in the time of action between the story, space and spectator, between the audible and the visible. The space doesn’t speak, but it is very eloquent."

Meta Hočevar is a renowned Slovenian architect, stage designer and theatre director. After qualifying and working as an architect, she started out as a theatre director and scenographer. She is the author of a number of acclaimed theatre productions in Slovenia and abroad; some of the most important ones are those produced as a part of the Wiener Festwochen festival (Dušan Jovanović: Antigone, the adaptation of Ibsen’s The Wild Duck: Family Album and Jukio Mishima: Visit), as well as her directions and stage designs at the SNT Drama Ljubljana, predominantly the works by Dane Zajc, Gregor Strniša, Dominik Smole and Dušan Jovanović. As a scenographer she has worked in theatres in the United States, Germany, Austria, Italy, Russia, Greece and elsewhere. She received numerous awards for her work, the most important among them are the Prešeren Award for lifetime achievement, several Borštnik Awards, several Sterija Awards and in 2005 a stage design award in Greece. In 1998 she published her book Plays Spaces in which she studies the problem of space in performing arts, the book has been translated into Serbian and English. She was a professor for scenography at the UL AGRFT and a visiting professor at the master degree programme at the University of Arts in Belgrade, in Skopje and Novi Sad. She is also professor emeritus at the University of Ljubljana.

Meta Hočevar: Play Spaces & Spaces of my time