Pupilija, papa Pupilo and the Pupilceks – 1969

Theatre Pupilija Ferkeverk


Knight's Hall, Križanke
Premiere: October 29 1969

Directed by: Dušan Jovanović
Performed by: Manca Čermelj, Meta Gorjup, Milan Jesih, Matjaž Kocbek, Žarko Kozina, Ilonka Kranjc, Goranka Kreačić, Barbara Levstik, Ferdo Miklavc, Junoš Miklavc, Dušan Rogelj, Ivo Svetina, Monika Žagar, Jožica Avbelj, Slobodan Valentinčič, Tomaž Kralj (one of the manuscripts also mentions J. Primožič, M. Smolej, B. Oblak).
Musicians: Lado Jakša, Tomaž Zorko, Milenko Arnejšek Prle

The performance Pupilija, papa Pupilo pa Pupilčki was performed in 1969 by a group of poets, visual artists, musicians and amateurs. It consisted of twenty scenes, including elements of everyday life, popular culture, folklore, children's games, contemporary dance, performance and improvisation.
The performance begins with children's games, succeeded by a scene, when two actresses facing one another enact the Snowhite scene ("Mirror, mirror on the wall"), and a choreography, when the actors imitate the interiority of a computer. The subsequent scenes originate from the media and popular culture, among others, an advertisment for the women's magazines Elle is enacted, an ad for milk from the Alps, a product put on the market in 1967, the reading of a horoscope, the enactment of a photonovel and a scene from a letter from Lonely Hearts Club.
The scenes are intertwined with interpretations of folklore dance, revolutionary songs or an improvised concert, the actors employing objects from daily life as instruments. The performance presents us with complex, in places Fabrian, choreography of insects, as well as with an antology scene of an intercourse with a globe. Pupilija, papa Pupilo pa Pupilčki ends with a cold, nearly ritualistic slaughter of a hen along gentle hotel music.

The performance is an iconic event of Slovenian theatre neoavantgarde and one of the most influential experimental performing works. It introduced an interdisciplinary approach into Slovenian theatre and constituted the grounds for the understanding of performing arts as an area, where different artistic and social practices come together. Pupilija included elements of happening, body art, performance, improvisation, contemporary dance, everyday life, pop culture, ritual theatre, cabaret and political protest. It is constructed as a collage of twenty scenes in the length of a video, the scenes being divided by strong cuts. Such fragmented structure later on becomes the foundation of postmodernistic performances.

After two premiere performances (October 29 1969) at Križanke the director of the Festival of Ljubljana renounced hospitality.
The re-run at the students’ campus was seen by approximately 1200 to 1600 people.
Re-runs from 1969 to 1970: Student's restaurant on the campus, Ljubljana, Home JLA, Maribor, Theatre Gavella, Zagreb, Reka, festival of student's theatres MSFK in Zagreb, a show of amateur theatres in Belgrade.
On December 14 1969 Pupilija was performed for Television of Ljubljana in the then Viba studio. Only a 40 minute recording is preserved (last five scenes missing).
Pupilians had to defend themselves in front of a misdemeanours judge. Seven of them were fined since the event had not been reported (Svetina, Jesih, Jovanović, Kocbek, Kralj, Rigl, Rogelj). Others were charged with breaching moral norms but were acquitted due to »their subordinate position«.

“After his repeated requests, I handed over the entire documentation about the activities of Theatre of Pupilija Ferkeverk to Marko Pavček, a student of the Academy, in early summer of 1979, for the seminar paper he was writing about Pupilija. With his death (suicide) in September later that year, all the collected material sources of the Theatre disappeared. A year or two later I delivered the rest of the material – some of the documents had copies – to Primož Kozak, the then dean of the Academy, who was preparing a paper on experimental theatre in Slovenia for the international theatre symposium in Venice. With the sudden death of Primož Kozak the remaining part of the sources, which could give evidence for an accurate reconstruction of the time and activities of the Theatre of Pupilija Ferkeverk, took the same path, the path of oblivion and eradication.”
Ivo Svetina, A Contribution to the History of Theatrical Movement in Slovenia – Pupilija Ferkeverk, Maska 1986, No. 4–5, p. 96–101.

The name of Pupilija Ferkeverk appeared in public in May 1969 on posters for the performance of the theatre of poetry of the group 442, which took place at the Small Stage of the National Theatre in Ljubljana. The title of the performance was ’’Noble Mould of Pupilija Ferkeverk”. The names, which were later on used as the name of the Theatre, were for the first time noted in one of the poems by Milan Jesih, published in a thematic issue of Problems Srh (November – December 1969). The verses are as follows:
“/…/ if you will you will take the name Ferkeverk or Pupilo or Stemsnon
you will be Jake or Judas
if you will you will rhyme or relish something else
you will do just all  /…/”.

Noble Mould of Pupilija Ferkeverk is a poetry performance, performed on May 16, 20 and 23 1969 at the Small Stage of the National Theatre. The group (Svetina, Kocbek, Iucundus) is joined by new members: Milan Jesih, Tomaž Kralj, Andrej Brvar and the director Dušan Jovanović, and later on also their partners: Katja Boh - Pupa, Manca Čermelj, Žarko Kozina, Monika Žagar, Bojana Klemenčič and others. The stage is empty, the emphasis is on the expressivity of the body, movement, gesture. The actors do not become one with their roles, it is their energy and presence, their movement and speech, which is important. The performance consists of rather fixed improvisations, allowing for changes in each repetition.
Roasted Brain of Pupilija Ferkeverk. Performed by: Milan Jesih, Matjaž Kocbek, Tomaž Kralj, Ivo Svetina, Bard Iucundus, Manca Čermelj. Script: Dušan Jovanović and Karpo Godina. Directed by: Karpo Godina. Eleven-minute film, shot at the abandoned Saline near Portorož in 1968. Static camera presents different “ads”, performed by five poets in different weather conditions and parts of day, on the left side of the screen Manca rocks on the swing throughout the film.

Between April 14 and April 19 1971 Tomaž Kralj stages “An Interesting Afternoon (Journey) of Pupilija Ferkeverk and Gas Masks”. The day following the premiere the performance is also held in Novi Sad.
Tomaž Kralj and some of his earlier and new members create a performance “Pupilija Ferkeverk and Sleepyhead Curlyhead” based on Hofmann’s “Struwel Peter” in summer of 1971 on the island of Vele Srakane. The premiere takes place in Belgrade on the invitation of BITEF festival in September 1971.
Dušan Jovanović starts directing in professional theatres, the poets have their own projects, the members of the group scatter around.