SLOVENIAN DRAMA GROUP MELBOURNE
All the members of the drama group believe that the work and performances are of great importance in the Slovenian community in Melbourne, Geelong and Sydney, where the group also performs. The performances are in Slovenian language, bringing laughter and joy to the audiences. The second and third generations of Slovenians are involved as well, giving them the opportunity to perform in Slovenian language, assisting with their new sound and lighting skills, including directing ideas, ideas for props and sets.
Slovenian Drama Group Melbourne was formed as an independent group, with the current name, in 2012 in Melbourne.
From years 1997 to 2011 the group performed as a Drama Group of Slovenian Religious and Cultural Centre Kew.
For 5 years, from 2006 to recent the group is the only Slovenian Drama group in Australia. The leader, Draga Gelt OAM, is also a scriptwriter and director. In year 2011 Ljubica Postružin became an assistant director and in 2014 Anita and Andrew Fistrič also assisted.
For a short period, a Working Committee was active, including not just the actors, but technical assistants, promotion – Public Relation Officer, hall assistants, video and photography persons.
Designs for posters, programs and desktop publishing have been completed by Draga Gelt.
Over the years the directors active in the drama groups include: Ivan Mihelj, Elka Mesar, Ivan Valenčič, Ljubo Pirnat, Draga Gelt, Sister Silvestra Ifko, Angela Škofic, Elica Rizmal, Anita Fistrič, and from 2008 Ljubica Postružin.
Individual members of the drama group have also performed in earlier comedies:
1969 - 1970 Pri belem konjičku, directed by Ivan Mihelj
1975 Ta veseli dan ali Matiček se ženi, directed by Ivan Valenčič
in years 1965 to 1978: Sneguljčica, Mačeha in pastorka, Rdeča kapica, Slehernik, Mihec se ženi, Regrat, Miklavževa operetta, operetta Planinska roža, Špelca v Ljubljani directed by Anica Srnec, Sister Silvestra Ifko, Lucija Srnec, Angela Škofic, Elica Rizmal and Anita Fistrič.
In years 1997 to 2007: Martin Krpan Partljič's parody adptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo in Julija, Miklavž, Mali čudež, Jaslice, Sveta noč, Brat v Avstraliji, Pametni kmet, TV Slovenija, Mojca in Blaž, Trije pijančki, Mi Slovenci vinca ne poznamo, Gospodinji sanjata, There is a Hole in the Bucket (directed by Anita Fistrič), all others directed by Draga Gelt, assisted at times by Ljubica Postružin.
Draga Gelt coordinated and put forward ideas for these productions and over the years has written the narrative texts for cultural programs – anniversaries and special celebrations, Slovenians Cultural Days, Mothers' and Fathers' Days, as well as some Youth Concert narrating text at the Religious centres Melbourne, Canberra and Adelaide until 2012.
From year 2008 the following one or two act comedies were performed by the drama group:
2008 Začarana Ančka
2009 Končno na dopust, comedy in 2 acts
2010 – 2011 comedy in 2 acts Poročni list and short comedy Pošteni sosed
2011 Comedy with singing Kje je meja?
2012 short comedy Moderni zakon and comedy Ali bo poroka?
2014 comedy Vražja slovenščina
2015 comedy Oh, ta ljubezen!
2016 comedy Joško in Micka
The text for many of the comedies need to be adapted, depending on the availability of actors and at times additional roles have had to be invented.
The script for the comedy Vražja slovenščina was thought off mainly by the members of the drama group. They supplied humouristic scenes and ideas; the scenes and final script was written by Draga Gelt.
The Drama group always participated, or organised, the Slovenian Cultural Day in February, Mothers' and Fathers' Day cultural programs at the Slovenian Mission, together with the Slomšek Slovenian school until 2011, but very unfair, and public cruel accusations, lead for the Drama group to become independent. G. B. Shaw, an Irish Nobel Prize Winner wrote: “It is easy -- terribly easy -- to shake a man's faith in himself. To take advantage of that to break a man's spirit is devil's work.”
Slovenian Drama Group Melbourne prepared and performed at cultural programs including Slovenian Cultural Day in February, Mothers and Fathers Days at the Slovenian Association Melbourne in 2013 and 2014.
The comedies are usually selected by Draga (some via contacts in Slovenia and different libraries, and Slovenian cultural groups), depending on available text, and the selection is often decided on participating available actors.
Actors come from three generations of Slovenians in Melbourne: the migrants and the second and third generations of young Slovenians, who practice and successfully perform on stage in the Slovenian language, some of them student of the Slovenian Adult Language classes.
Music is prepared at times by Lenti Lenko OAM and Katarina Vrisk.
The technical staff: lighting and sound, are second generation Slovenians as well: Simon Grilj, Anita Fistrič, Zvonko Kostov and Daniel Šuber in Sydney.
The special effects technicians are two young students, both third generation Slovenians: Frances McBean and Leah Fistrič.
Andrew Fistrič has constructed most of the props, but some were printed panels on canvas orgamised by Draga. Set designs by Draga, were constructed by Andrew and assistants, for 2015 Anica and Lojze Markič, Frank Pristov and Peter Lenarčič. Costumes are always organised by the actors.
Anita Fistrič is as well full of ideas for directing, special and sound effects, being a stage manager for many cultural programs and plays as her job and involvement with the Australian Parish. In 2015 the stage managing was by Anica Markič and Romana Žetko.
The drama group holds practices at the Slovenian Religious and Cultural centre at Kew - located under the Slovenian church. Both, the church, and the hall, were built by Slovenian volunteers, for Slovenians (and other cultural groups) - for religious services and cultural performances. Thank you to the late Fr Basil Valentin OFM MBE (prior to 1997), Fr Metod Ogorevc OFM (1997 to 2001) and Fr Ciril Božič OFM OAM (2001 to recent).
The Premieres - the opening performances, and sometimes repeat performance of the plays, are at the Slovenian Religious and Cultural centre church hall at Kew; with guest appearances at the Slovenian Association Geelong; Slovenian Cliub Jadran, Diggers Rest; Slovenian Association Planica, Springvale; Slovenian Association Melbourne, Research; sometimes at the Slovenian Association St. Albans; at the Slovenian Mission in Merrylands, Sydney, and Slovenian Club Adelaide.
The Slovenian Drama Group Melbourne has donated quite a substantial amount of money to the Victorian Black Saturday Bushfire Appeal, to the Slovenian Chapel at Ta Pinu (suggested by the then member of the drama group, AnaMaria Cek); contributed to the purchase of new, black stage back and side curtains for the church hall, payment for printing and painting of the canvas props, and for the partial travel costs to actors for the performances in Sydney.