20 years

When, some twenty years ago, we were considering a new international festival of theatre and dance, we probably didn’t imagine that the festival would ever become this old, and even less that we would stay together as a team for so long. In fact, milestone anniversaries are interesting only insofar as they remind us of the fact that there was once a beginning and that there is continuity. They remind us that we had dreamt about something, and that we have never given up on this dream. What were we dreaming about? We were dreaming about an international festival with contemporaneity at the heart of the action, the driving force of change. About the possibility that we would not have to visit foreign cities to see the shows that are currently trending, but would be able to bring them here. We were dreaming of a festival that foreign artists would love to come to and share their dreams and explorations, and show us how they see and experience the world, both personally and socially. We wanted to create a festival that would be an oasis of freedom where contradiction could be confronted and intertwined: the international and the local, the old and the young, the bold and the conventional, the different and the common, the utopic and the dystopic. We were interested in cooperation, partnership, coexistence, joint exploration, visions. We want to create space for experience, where it only matters how much we are touched, stimulated, surprised by something, how much it made us think, opened up new perspectives, maybe even made us angry, mad, or gave us a new idea for action. The city has long since become our stage, we have discovered and revived numerous corners and new venues, conquered by both well established and non professional artists. Since the very beginning, the Mladi levi festival is considered, both home and abroad, to be an innovative festival of engaged content, of theatre performances and other hybrid art forms. Important current topics are being debated here, and the place glows with hospitable atmosphere and socializing. We have successfully voided the danger of commercialization, and even though we have expanded our scope of activities and interests, we are more interested in incisiveness, with and within the society, we want to ask the right questions and look for new forms of solidarity, both locally and globally.

Every year, we are reinventing ourselves, and at the same time we are shaping the same fabric of human destinies, their stories of love and struggles. This year’s festival is made of the same fabric. From the stories that we thought were no longer taboo, but may well still be after all, and that desperately need to be discussed: abuses, old age, illness, the fate of refugees, the foreign, energy, globalization, rebellion …

We are more interested in future challenges than in the past – what is the future of festivals and who are they intended for. We want a more responsive cultural policy that is able to separate the wheat from the chaff. We know enough to be aware of the fact that there are many more performances and artists out there that we would love to have as guests, but we cannot afford them, even though our audience deserves them.

And it is the audience, our faithful companion and active participant, that this festival and our future explorations are dedicated to. We are not only interested in working for and with the audience, but somehow also among the audience. How to create a dialogue, even with those who are not like us, who think differently, or those who we don’t even know yet. After 20 years, we have not run out of breath or momentum, on the contrary, we are even more present, always on the lookout. Long live the festival! Long live the artists!

Long live the audience!



International festival Mladi Levi is one of the more prominent annual events of the Bunker Institute, bringing the most current stage performers from all over the world to Ljubljana every end of the summer, since 1998. It bears a mark of a demanding artistic profile, placed within the arena of contemporary progressive theatre and takes pride in its reputation for discovering young talents. The Festival has a distinctive atmosphere, marked with creativity and vibrant spirit, curious audience and social nature.

Festival Mladi Levi inhabits a place of encounters and surprises, continuously opening up to foreign artists and guests, who take pleasure in art and spread contemporary artistic or social topics in front of one another. It is a place of exchange as well as a cradle of new ideas, friendships and co-operations, which frequently extend beyond the local concepts or borders in the process of their growth.