Theatre from the Passage is a community-based theatre, being the only one in the Slovak context which works with mentally handicapped people. The theatre is trying to bridge the culture (by creating the stagings and theatre performances) with artistic and social sphere, and has been working in Banska Bystrica since 1995.
Theatre from the Passage employs fourteen people and fifteen actors, including staff from the Day-Unit of the Theatre, and the Sheltered House. These three organisations are connected, and neither of them could exist separately.
Since we were founded, we have rehearsed 17 performances, made two full-length films From a Diary of a Carriage and the documentary Protected territory about a tour of a theatre through USA, made 5 TV-documentaries, organised four editions of international biennale theatre festival of community-based theatres, participated in international festivals, theatre exhibitions, and workshops in Denmark, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Germany, Portugal and France. Having been invited by an American theatre director, we accomplished a three-week theatre tour around the United States (Iowa, Texas, New York), during which we performed 6 theatre pieces and carried out 10 workshops.
We created our own system of artistic education for mentally handicapped people and helped to establish an organisation DOM, the purpose of which was to create protected accommodation for mentally handicapped people. Our theatre, being the only organisation from Slovakia within the European Union, has been awarded Citizen of the Year Prize 2009, and in January 2010, we’ve become a municipal theatre.
Theatre has come through its own development process and created the professional art ensemble formed of actors with the mental handicap. Theatre performances are therefore not only the art testimonies but also a strong human messages.
Theatre from the Passage is a community theatre engaging for the groups of people who need real help. It’s a form of theatre of the oppressed that was developed as a help in the fight against the oppression of poor and sensitive, to change the society that created and still causes this oppression.
In the context of Theatre from the Passage we perceive as the oppressed not only the people with handicap, otherness, but also the creative people who feel the oppression of consumerism supporting the spreading impassibility and the lack of solidarity. This society then without any remorses pushes away the voice of conscience. Actors with mental handicap lost in the past their natural right for self-determination, the right to express their needs and stances and have become a small closed community in the bigger and more closed society. After the velvet revolution this society moved fast forward – but not towards the democracy, but consumocracy.
Our theatre shelters the members of different marginalized groups – actors with mental handicap, fugitives, gypsy communities, people with the physical and sensuous handicap – all of those, whose presence remind us that our country needs to revive its conscience and solidarity.