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Slovenia's oldest play celebrating 300 years

Škofja Loka, 12 March - The Škofja Loka Passion Play, Slovenia's oldest play originating from the start of the 18th century, celebrates its 300th anniversary this year. The tricentennial will be marked by on-site and virtual events dedicated to the play and its heritage, however the traditional staging has been postponed due to the epidemic.

Škofja Loka
The manuscript of the early 18th-century Škofja Loka Passion Play, housed at the local Capuchin monastery.
Photo: Tinkara Zupan/STA

Škofja Loka
The manuscript of the early 18th-century Škofja Loka Passion Play, housed at the local Capuchin monastery.
Photo: Tinkara Zupan/STA

Škofja Loka
The manuscript of the early 18th-century Škofja Loka Passion Play, housed at the local Capuchin monastery.
Photo: Tinkara Zupan/STA

Škofja Loka
The manuscript of the early 18th-century Škofja Loka Passion Play, housed at the local Capuchin monastery.
Photo: Tinkara Zupan/STA

Days of Škofja Loka Passion Play kicked off today and will run through April with the programme observing Covid-19 prevention protocols.

From today to 25 April, the central City Square in the northern town of Škofja Loka will host a large-scale exhibition on the topic. Moreover, a screening of the play will be staged at the Okno Loške Hiše venue.

The local cultural centre Sokolski Dom will hold two exhibitions, open until 14 April and focusing on intangible heritage of the play and its 20 scenes.

The Škofja Loka parish will display the Passion nativity scene at the Nun's Church on 20 March. Workshops marking the anniversary will be held in the town's central square on 27 March, epidemiological situation permitting.

On 2 April, observing Good Friday, the Stations of the Cross procession will go through the town. The organisers also intend to hold an anniversary event in April to unveil a memorial honouring the tricentennial.

The planned staging of the play, which is otherwise held every six years in the town's medieval centre between Lent and Easter and features hundreds of performers, making it the largest open-air theatre production in Slovenia, has been pushed back to 2022 due to Covid-19.

Days of Škofja Loka Passion Play will also deliver online events, presentations and debates, including a discussion with the superior of the Škofja Loka Capuchin monastery Jože Smukavec this evening.

On 26 March, the third tableaux of the Škofja Loka Passion Play will be displayed online, whereas Romuald's feast day, 22 April, will be marked by a reflection on the dialect and discourse of the play.

The Škofja Loka Passion Play or Škofjeloški Pasijon in Slovenian is considered one of the oldest continually staged procession plays in Europe.

The original text was written between 1715 and 1727 by Capuchin monk Lovrenc Marusič, also known as Father Romuald, who lived for a while in the monastery, where the play's manuscript is now housed. The play was first staged on Good Friday in 1721.

The work is not only the oldest completely preserved Slovenian play, but also the oldest preserved director's book or storyboard in the world.

In 2012, the play was declared a living masterpiece of national importance in Slovenia. In 2016, it was listed on UNESCO's representative list of intangible cultural heritage, becoming the first example of Slovenian heritage to be awarded this honour.

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© STA, 2021