TYPOGRAPHY - SIGNS - IMAGE

The Language of the Theatre Poster II. / The Slovak Theatre Poster after 1989 (from the collections of Theatre Institute in Bratislava)

By The Theatre Institute

Production billboard, Rastislav Ballek: Tiso (2005) by Tom Ciller, Ateliér 3The Theatre Institute

A legend of Slovak acting, Marián Labuda, on the billboard promoting the play about Jozef Tiso, the controversial president of the war-time Slovak State. The author paralleled the actor’s distinctive face with an appropriately chosen typographic and meaning.

TEXT and TYPOGRAPHY

Production poster, Rastislav Ballek: Tiso (2005) by Tom Ciller, Ateliér 3The Theatre Institute

The poster as an announcement of a theatre production taking place. Text and typography have been part of the theatre culture since its beginnings. Text posters are artistically valuable if the text follows typographic principles, or if the author deliberately violates some of the principles to create an aesthetic effect.

Production poster, John Osborne: The Entertainer (1988) by Čestmír PechrThe Theatre Institute

In 1988, the famous Slovak poster artist Čestmír Pechr created lettering reminiscent of the neon tubes from the façade of the variety version of John Osborne’s play The Entertainer.

Authorial poster, Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky: Idiot (2006) by Dušan JunekThe Theatre Institute

Some graphic designers like to create their own compositions on popular themes, so-called authorial posters. The poster composition for Dostoyevsky’s Idiot can be interpreted as a formal typographical game – however, it also displays elements of theatrical, spatial, and plot-related symbolism.

Production poster, Martin Burlas: Coma (2007) by Tom Ciller & Ateliér 3 (collaboration: IQ Design Studio)The Theatre Institute

The poster for a Slovak chamber opera which takes place in a hospital was created by the stage designer Tom Ciller. The typography of the title was composed from elements typical for the environment in question: hospital beds.

Production poster, Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol: Marriage (2002) by Ján NovosedliakThe Theatre Institute

The posters containing fragments of human bodies and faces take into account the curiosity of spectators who always try to fill in the missing parts, thus making the posters captivating. A similar principle can be applied to posters imitating the diagnostic tools used when testing the sharpness of vision.

Production poster, Ödön von Horváth: Kasimir and Karoline (1992) by František Kudláč Jr.The Theatre Institute

The initials of the protagonists of the play Kasimir and Karoline, filled with rainbow colours containing the portraits of the main characters, imply the possibility of hope and ethereality of romantic relationships during the onset of Nazism. The contrast is brought about by combining a drawn black-and-white background and retro scenes of folk entertainment.

Programme poster, Slovak National Theatre (1989) by unknownThe Theatre Institute

The programme poster of the Slovak National Theatre, which contains added hand-written text, is an example of aesthetic interference with the poster text, even though the adjustment was not made with an artistic intent. 

The changes in programme lists were made by an employee of the National Theatre’s documentation department and now offer a unique commentary on the events in November 1989:
Performance cancelled! Velvet Revolution! (in Slovak: Nehralo sa! Nežná revolúcia!)

Production poster, Pavel Zelenka: Tales of Ordinary Madness (2002) by Pavol BálikThe Theatre Institute

SIGNS

Signs and symbols are the key means of expression when creating theatre art. Theatre posters often use the language of signs. In this case, the author created characteristic pictograms of the individual (adults only) stories in the play.

Production poster, Viliam Klimáček: Chekhov – Boxer (2001) by Juraj Sukop, Juraj DemovičThe Theatre Institute

Slovak playwright Viliam Klimáček’s ironic play features the character of Chekhov as well as other characters from his plays – doctors. A simple medical kit with the clear symbol on it, the red-and-white colour contrast, and a plain typography – these are the strongest visual features of this poster.

Production poster, Ladislav Mňačko: The Purge (1993) by Vladislav RostokaThe Theatre Institute

POLITICS

Theatre has always been political. Therefore, politics is an important element of theatre posters. The red star alludes to the period before 1989 in the countries of the Eastern bloc. For many years to come, the works of playwrights and designers will reflect on the post-communist legacy of the history of these countries.

Production poster, Roman Polák: Robinson in Search for a Ship to be Wrecked (1997) by Ján ZavarskýThe Theatre Institute

A poster for the metaphorical story of the complex personality of Slovak poet and politician Miroslav Válek, who was the Minister of Culture in the socialist Czechoslovakia for twenty years, including the so-called normalization period in the 1970s.

Production poster, Peter Pavlac: Partybr(e)akers (2007) by IQ Design Studio (Jakub Hauskrecht, Eva Kašáková)The Theatre Institute

A 2007 play about the loss of historical memory. “The red star” features on the poster only as an implication seen in the inverted colours – it is displayed as a crack in a champagne glass.

Production poster, Janusz Głowacki: The Fourth Sister (2002) by Marek OrmandíkThe Theatre Institute

IMAGE

The status of the theatre poster was built throughout the 20th century. The medium of the poster was affected by thousands of creative ideas. If the poster is separated from its functional context, all that remains will be an image, an artistic element with a much longer tradition. The author of the poster for the production The Fourth Sister used his own painting as the central visual motif.

Production poster, Jules Massenet: Don Quichotte (1995) by Ján KrížikThe Theatre Institute

The collage technique allows the artist to combine various visual styles and periods.

Production poster, STOKA Theatre: Nox (1995) by Matej PlekanecThe Theatre Institute

An image evoking woodcarving, the visuality of the 1990s, and the influence of DIY aesthetics.

Production poster, Ilja Zeljenka: Bathory (1996) by Ľubica ŠkrinárováThe Theatre Institute

The relevance of photography for the art of the theatre poster was already mentioned in reference to the use of the portraits of actors and actresses. The poster for the opera Bathory makes a different, more visually artistic use of photography.

Festival poster design, Touches and Connections (2009) by Roman MackovičThe Theatre Institute

A student experiment using photography on a poster which resulted in a surprising and witty image combination.

Production poster, Satores: DELTA, physical theatre (2006) by Marcel BenčíkThe Theatre Institute

Materiality and immateriality in abstract images used on posters for physical theatre productions.

Production poster, Viliam Klimáček: Fiery Fires (1996) by Emil DrličiakThe Theatre Institute

The author of the poster, Emil Drličiak, is one of the most outstanding talents of Slovak visual art. He did not become a painter, but a designer – however, his visual art dominates all his work.

Credits: Story

The Language of the Theatre Poster II.
The Slovak Theatre Poster after 1989 (from the collections of Theatre Institute in Bratislava) 
Author: Mária Beňačková Rišková 
Slovak proofreading: Mária Kvaššayová 
English translation: Ivan Lacko 
Editors: Vladislava Fekete, Dominika Zaťková 
Production: Marko Popović

The Theatre Institute has made all possible efforts to identify the authors of the graphic or photographic works used in this publication, as well as to obtain legal permission for their use. If you are the holder of the rights to any of the works used herein, please contact the Theatre Institute: du@theatre.sk.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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