We are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the first play being put on stage in BTC City Ljubljana by Teater komedija BTC. With the staging of the monodrama Shirley Valentine, Ljubljana gained one more theatre, while BTC started to actively contribute to the development of theatrical activity in Slovenia. In 2008, Teater komedija became SiTi Teater BTC, which continues to stage its own productions as well as host other events, always making sure that their programme includes popular works by different producers.
On December 8, 2000, the stage actress Polona Vetrih performed Willy Russell’s monodrama Shirley Valentine in BTC City Ljubljana’s renovated Mercurius Hall, which marked the beginning of Teater komedija BTC. At the start of the new millennium, BTC wanted to expand its activities beyond business and shopping. The company wanted to give their customers the opportunity to come together and mingle while attending novel, culturally rich social events. Under the conceptual leadership of Jože Mermal, the then Chairman of the BTC Management Board, Mitja Rotovnik, who was the Director of Cankarjev dom at the time, and Polona Vetrih, a renowned stage actress of the Ljubljana Drama, a new theatre, Teater komedija BTC, came into being.
Raising the cultural awareness of visitors to BTC City Ljubljana, the theatre’s reputation grew until it became a brand in itself. Until 2008, it was led by Polona Vetrih, who was in charge of its artistic direction. The theatre’s audience spanned a broad range of people, who admired the performances brought to the stage by outstanding actors featured in excellent plays.
“I remember writing to Mitja Rotovnik in 1999 how excited I was about all the people who would come to BTC because of the cultural happenings there, how happy I was about the theatre, the comedy and the acting, which would excite not only the imagination but also BTC itself. I truly believed in the project. But even I couldn’t have imagined what joy and what richness of spirit the theatre would bring to BTC City Ljubljana. This theatre is certainly our greatest contribution to culture. With over 300 performances a year, it brightens the nights of many people. With its superb programme and outstanding performers, it has become a veritable temple of culture for all generations, and I do believe that it will keep fascinating and inspiring audiences in the future as well,” said Jože Mermal, Chairman of the BTC Board of Directors, upon the theatre’s anniversary.
In 2008, Teater komedija BTC underwent an upgrade on the initiative of Polona Vetrih. It became SiTi Teater BTC, which has been led by Ana Kajzer and Uroš Fürst ever since. Under the new name, the theatre found new ways of expression and tackled new genres, from musicals to dramas, comedies, monodramas, plays for children and music performances, further growing its audience and raising its popularity.
By the end of 2020, SiTi Teater BTC will have prepared 22 in-house theatre productions and co-productions, including the smash hits Fotr, Star fotr, Divjak, Tak Si, Mame and many more. It has also hosted over 2,200 events on the home stage and performed over 1,300 times as the visiting theatre company in other theatres in Slovenia and internationally.
Ana Kajzer, Managing Director of SiTi Teater BTC, said: “Although I wasn’t there at the founding of the theatre in Mercurius Hall, the photos alone can tell you what development BTC’s theatre has undergone in these two decades. With the kind of quality programme produced in the days of Teater Komedija by Polona Vetrih and in the past twelve years by the team of SiTi Teater BTC, an assembly hall has become a theatrical and concert venue, whose stage has seen productions by the most prominent Slovenian drama and music creators. Twenty years of dedicated and focused work has brought about huge improvements in the theatre’s visibility and popularity. BTC’s support and its trust in our vision have enabled us to erect a cultural space with an ongoing programme that can satisfy the wishes of diverse audiences, which further enriches BTC City Ljubljana and the whole of Slovenia.”
Even in 2020, when the SiTi Teater BTC auditorium had to close its doors for the first time, the theatre lives on. The “new reality” didn’t bring with it only limitations or restrictions, but also the wonderful new summer venue SiTi Teater pod zvezdami (“SiTi Teater beneath the stars”). In the summer of 2020, this venue saw no fewer than 20 performances. With its outdoor programme, SiTi Teater BTC was the only Slovenian theatre with a regular theatre and music programme during the times of loosened coronavirus restrictions.
The daring plans of SiTi Teater BTC extend into the 2020/2021 season. On the initiative of Lado Bizovičar, for example, they are already participating in the production of the web comedy Optimisti, which will include performances by Lado Bizovičar, Janez Hočevar – Rifle and Goran Hrvaćanin – Gojko Ajkula. The comedy, which is set to appear at the beginning of next year, will provide the audience with an interactive experience of entertainment, accessible from the safety of one’s own living room or office to everyone.
Culture has always held a special place at BTC. Ever since the company’s foundation in 1954, BTC has helped numerous artists and supported countless cultural events, endorsing creativity in many different areas of artistic expression, including music, theatre, art, design, architecture, and others. Throughout the years, BTC City Ljubljana has become a meeting point of creators, supporters and fans of creativity, and as such a place of culture and art.
20 Years of Theatre in BTC City Ljubljana
PHOTO: BTC Archive