Ján Šimko

    is a theatre scholar based in Bratislava. He studied psychology at the Comenius University and theatre studies at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava. He co-founded M.U.T., an international intercultural theatre association that operated in Prague from 1999 to 2005. In 2007 in Bratislava he founded Tucet (Dozen), a theatre association focusing on original playwriting. He has worked as dramaturg at Theatre Studio 12 and the Akropolis Palais in Prague, directed plays for the Nitra Theatre Festival and took part in the Prague German-speaking theatre festival. Since 2010 he has held the post of chief dramaturg at the Literature and Drama Centre of the Slovak state Radio and TV and has curated the international project Parallel Lives – 20th century through secret police eyes (six productions from post-communist countries presenting stories that illustrate the practices of communist secret services). “Theatre is a kind of social medium, which by definition possesses the instruments required to analyse situations involving dialogue, contradictions and group dynamic linked to problem-solving. I believe it is important not just to explore past narratives but also to reflect on how they are used nowadays (…). Truth is always problematic. Art is not capable of offering objective truth. However, it can help us by telling stories from a clear perspective, revealing it as well as the position of the person who tells the story. That, I think, is only fair. (…) I speak from experience gained through this project. For example, there was a problem with the story of a Stasi collaborator: some of the media refused to interview him, arguing that they didn’t want to spread news of evil because what we need to hear these days are the voices of the victims. I largely agree but the question is: can society ever come to terms with its past if it refuses to talk to the so- called dark side? Does it make sense to cover up a complex reality by statements of positive heroes?”