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SELECTED CRITICAL RESPONSES TO STAGE PRODUCTIONS WITH SENSORIAL ELEMENTS

  • 2021 SCENTED SECRETS co-production SSG Trieste, AGRFT, Sensorium
    The whole performance was a special olfactory experience that enriched the set, the costumes and the acting. /…/ The ocular reality is merged with a new sensory element, namely the smells, which play a major role in every single historical and contemporary scene. The scents evoke the atmosphere of each historical period and accompany the space and time along with the set and costumes. Smell becomes a new way of communication between the actors and the audience, through a visual and auditory channel. A journey through the history of smells, Erika Labiani, 13 December 2021

 

  • Scented Secrets, a sensory performance that you look at or smell, represents a new type of theatrical seduction, which comes to the Slovenian space with Barbara Pia Jenič and becomes an art that we feel on different levels. The performance causes some tiny miracles that help us to perceive the stage of the theatre in a different and broader way than otherwise. With a wider range of senses, emotional and sensory memories and feelings are awakened in us during the performance. /…/ Scented Secrets is a surprising, historical, romantic, sensory, documentary and meticulously crafted performance where actors and audience breathe the same scented air, enjoy the same spirit and dive in the same scented pool. It is truly worth seeing! The Unfathomable Mystery of Scent, Tanisa Pipan 13 December 2021

 

  • History, romance and documentary intertwine to form a coherent whole, and it is the relationship with the viewer that gives the show its special fragrance. If Scented Secrets were a perfume, it would be different, incomparable for each viewer. (Un)Scented Experience, Helena Štoka 13 December 2021

 

  • The work Scented Secrets shows the evolution of the perception of smells throughout history – the sensory theatre approach ensures a feeling of being overwhelmed by the on-stage action. The drama relates smell to the understanding of the body, cleanliness and luxury, smell is presented as something personal, almost intimate. /…/ Barbara Pie Jenič’s text is vivid: on stage we hear the ethereal names of a wide variety of scents that have inspired people throughout history /…/ It is documentary theatre based on real facts from history and presented in the form of a stage performance./…/ Ivana Zajc, You can tell who you are with fragrance, 12 November 2021

 

  • 2018 THE PROPHET co-production PG Kranj, SMG Ljubljana, SSG Trieste, Senzorium
    The cast is excellent in their roles, and during their performance there is also interaction with the audience, which includes sharing fragrances and occasionally addressing and encouraging them to think about questions that seem so impossible and complicated to everyone, but whose answer will forever remain simple.” Karin Planinšek, Zapik 15.
    “Already in the text itself there is an exclamation that says to awaken the senses of the reader or the listener, And this is exactly what the performance directed by Barbara Pie Jenič does. If I wanted to put this production in the mould of ‘olfactory theatre’, I would be doing it a great injustice. We smell mainly quite well-known essential oils, which we also have at home. More importantly, the show speaks in many languages and touches many senses: visually, through the medium of film projection, which chooses extremely subtle images of nature, but also through the symmetrical mise-en-scene, the strong accents of colour, the apt costume design. The small stage is filled with an intense atmosphere that honours the medium of the theatre, as it truly enchants the spectator. All of this draws us into a capsule of a distant time – or not distant, since time is blurred – a zone of Mediterranean smells and noises. It is a performance of reflections and lights that also speaks with materials. These take on archetypal roles /…/ We are transported back in time to the Elysian Mysteries, which were conceived in antiquity as events involving several human senses. The performance effectively transports us to a certain shore, we become part of the local community listening to Gibran’s valuable insights. It acts on the viewer like a meditative clock, which both stirs and calms the mind. /…/ The actors stir the senses of the audience with fire, essential oils, fruit and the touch of the billowing sails, gently caressing the heads of the audience – maintaining a sense of ritual and letting time pass. This is a performance that melts into the body. /…/ It is not only the prophet’s thoughts, then, that touch the spectator with a gentle boldness, but the performance also takes his body, placing it in front of the fire and the sea, which makes sense of the objects around it through ritual acts, and thus, above all, calms it.” Ivana Zajc, The Prophet – Theatre for all the senses, Primorski dnevnik 23.12. 2018

 

  • “In The Prophet, based on the cult work of the same name by the Lebanese-American author Kahlil Gibran, director Barbara Pia Jenič , the founder of sensorial theatre in our country, continues to explore different ways of combining classical theatre and sensorial themes, which have already characterised some of her previous projects. Within this arc, the current The Prophet represents a return to more explicit sensory layers of performance, but also the first truly equal (and surprisingly effective) fusion of the textual and the sensorial into a coherent, complementary whole. /… / Both Miha Rodman (The Prophet) and Maruša Oblak (Almitra) on a uniquely designed set, placed between a video projection screen with scenes from nature on one side and the audience on the other three sides (both the set and the video were designed by the director), in a calm rhythm and without any patheticism, they navigate through the scenes of the Prophet’s Farewell (dramaturgy by Marinka Poštrak), occasionally performing various ritual acts (such as lighting a fire, washing hands, offering food), sometimes in an unobtrusive interaction with the audience; gradually establishing a sense of timelessness, which is also significantly shaped by smells, various archetypal motifs, symbolic objects and meaningfully stylised costume design (Tina Kolenik), as well as by the active presence of natural materials (wood, earth) and the highly evocative soundscapes by Petr Penk, Tinet Terlepa and Igor Meglič. Through a gentle interpenetration with all these elements, the word thus eventually becomes “flesh”, a condensed tissue of skillfully synchronised sensory messages that appeals to the viewer’s open sensibility – and at the same time offers him an unusual theatrical experience.” Gregor Butala, Thoughtful fusion of elements, Dnevnik 30.11. 2018

 

  • “The premiere audience opened all their senses and followed the action on and off the stage attentively and in complete silence throughout, and participated in the symbolic gestures of the two actors, such as the “Eucharist” of the passing of the essences of scent at the end. In this way, one could say, she also received the Prophet’s teachings. The performance of The Prophet will certainly attract a new audience to the Prešeren Theatre. Those of you who have read The Prophet will also be interested in seeing the play, and those of you who have not and have seen the play will be happy to pick up the book.” Igor Kavčič Seduction of the Senses, 22.10.2018

 

  • “Miha Rodman as the Prophet and Maruša Oblak as Almitra, with the Prophet’s voice (Vladimir Jurc) and sound support (Peter Penko, Tine Terlep and Igor Meglič) and video projections, subtly deliver Gibran’s text in a subdued rhythm in a sensual interaction with the audience (touch, smell, hearing…). Using symbolic language (apples, grapes, wine, soil, tree, curtain, ship, etc.), they take the viewer on a “spiritual journey from birth to death”, or more precisely from the mountain of transfiguration through the Eucharist, the garden of suffering to the dawn of the resurrection.” Ksenja Hočevar, Družina, 21.10.2018

 

  • After such a performance as The Prophet, the applause at the end is like a sound disturbance, because everyone wants to take away the impressions on the palm of his hand and hold them in silence before the altar of his eyes. The performance combines the power of the word and the dimensions of the ineffable, conjured up by the flawless perfection of video projection, costume design, set design, dramaturgy, lighting and sound into a whole.” Katerina Vidner Ferkov, Trust the Dream, 16.10.2018

 

  • “The production directed by Barbara Pie Jenič focuses on some thematic fragments of the prophet, such as friendship, gift, children, poverty, death and love, which are unfolded on stage in a calm, slowed down rhythm through symbolic and archetypal images, and sensually enriched. Performed by Maruša Oblak and Miha Rodman, with evocative sound support by Petr Penk, Tinet Terlepa and Igor Meglič, and video projections, the subtle message of the fundamental interconnectedness of opposites is delivered with verbal clarity and sobriety, through the effective use of scents, props and set. The meaningful spiritual charge of the Prophet, which is somehow alien to today’s age, is thus addressed and opened up through the spectator’s sensual receptivity and sensitivity, inherent in the ephemerality of the theatrical moment, which in fact makes the theatrical event unique and irreversible.” Rok Bozovičar, Radio Slovenia 1, Events and Echoes – 15:49, 14.10.2018

 

  • Brave New World 2017
    The adaptation of the text is good, concise, clear, concise and witty in its hyperpotentiation of the absurdity of this world: it parodies worn-out new age practices and combines them with established proverbial practices: “One gram of soma a day drives a doctor away.” No prior knowledge of the novel is actually necessary. Dnevnik, 4 December 2017

 

  • The production of A Brave New World is a co-production with Sensorium, where Barbara Pia Jenič has been developing sensorial theatre for more than twenty years and has recently been bringing sensorial language – which stimulates different (unconscious, sensual) bodily responses through multiple sensory stimuli and atmospheres, and supports the intimacy of inner experience – into the framework of the classical frontal theatre stage. Work 4. December 2017

 

  • Gothic Windows 2014
    The poems reached the reception of the artwork in new ways, through different senses, which may present parallels to Zajec’s poetry. Whether it is the smell of a peeled orange, which she carries, and which can symbolise sexuality, domination, even aggression, but in any case strong feelings, all of which are also elements of Hare’s poetry. The visual aspect of the performance has a similar effect. The shaded light, as well as the complete darkness that engulfs the hall at a certain moment (lighting designer: David Orešič), can thus dictate the anxiety, one could even say the blackness, of Hare’s poetry. The sound, with its indeterminacy and dark tones, evokes an impassive, fatalistic feeling (sound designer: Peter Penko), but at the same time it evokes the music of a poetic film or, last but not least, the rhythm of poetry itself. There is still the type that creeps into the performance when She and He crawl in the darkness over all the spectators seated in a circle around the stage, confirming our presence, the universal language of the text of the performance, and to some extent establishing a theatrical correlate to some of the extremely physical images of Zajec’s poetry that are meanwhile spoken on the recording. Thus, it seems that it is the introduction of the five senses that is meant to return poetry to poetry, or rather to make up for what it has lost by being transferred into the text for the performance, since it opens up five conceptual fields in which we can access the text, or rather the action within it, in different ways. All this drama about poetry, Aljaž Krivec, Ljudlitearatura, 23.12. 2014

 

CRITICAL RESPONSES OF THE SENSORIAL PERFORMANCES of the author’s processes 2005- 2019

  • Throughout Barbara Pie Jenič’s oeuvre to date, it is possible to trace a constant exploration of the limits of the “theatre of the senses”, which in almost every performance has offered new relationships between individual elements, either in the expressiveness of the different layers of sensory material or in the way the spectator is involved; this time, the sensory language is enriched with more text than ever before, which does not make it more difficult for the visitor to immerse himself in the action. Perhaps its journey through the landscapes of memory and the unconscious is a little different than otherwise, but no less exciting for that. The Blindfold Spectator, Gregor Butala 6 February 2020

 

  • The director has transformed The Divine Comedy into a condensed experience of an individual literally following Dante. Not through all the circles of hell and heaven, the stage opens up for the visitor in his or her own interior. The experience is unforgettable and profound. For a moment it may seem, “what is it to me”? Or “it’s nothing”, as the blindfolded visitor is guided through the sensorial experience of the Divine Comedy. But the performance, the stage, comes alive inside us and remains open even after we go home and sleep. /…/ The director’s approach of sensorial theatre gives us the opportunity to get to know the Divine Comedy in sections, but there in a way we don’t expect./…/ Is the scent of a rose and the gaze of an angel a worse substitute for the sticky gluttony of a demonic crocodile? Sensorial theatre, without you looking at anyone or anyone looking at you, reveals this in ourselves, and herein lies its surplus value. One Hour of Hell of Your Choice, Katarina Ferkov 7 December 2019

 

  •  … this is one of the more thoughtful and successful productions of the Sensorium Institute in recent years, and that it is a polished performance that (despite being a co-production with the Museum and Galleries of Ljubljana) is by no means a mere decorative add-on to the current commemoration of the 2000th anniversary of Old Roman Emona, but a fully independent and relatively effective sensorial event. In a fragrant time machine, Gregor Butala, Dnevnik 9 August 2014

 

  • The action itself is made up of quite simple content – movements, smells, sights. Words are unnecessary, communication is on an interpersonal, symbolic level. Once the spectator is inside the performance, as an actor and a building block of the action, the need for verbal dialogue disappears. It is replaced by a rich sensory perception that deepens and intensifies the communication. And it is this sensory perception that is the basis for two hours of action that rarely leaves anyone cold. An event that completely reinterprets the classical roles of traditional theatre and puts both performers and spectators in the same position and puts them on an equal footing as equal actors. In these roles, they then discover together the mysteries of life and indulge their senses, evoking memories and stimulating the imagination.
    Žan Lebe http://znd.maribor2012.eu/info/tekst/prikaz/article/igra-cutov-in-dozivetij

 

  • “A fine idea, fine execution, fine young people who know how to work with people and spend the summer in one of the most beautiful ways. The show could easily tour in all our communities and we wouldn’t get tired of it.” Petra Vidali, Večer August 2012

 

  • “In fact, all the senses are addressed, and because the project does not start from an exclusively artistic starting point, it manages to evoke sensibility in reality. The so-called sensorial theatre, to which the performance Between Us belongs, adheres to all the principles invented by directors over the last hundred years, but it does so in an unpretentious way, that is to say, not merely as a formal experiment, but as an actual game of seduction of the spectator. … The girls of the Sensorium Theatre have no intention of dominating or manipulating the external participants in the performance, their guiding principle is actually just an invitation to join us if you want new, different experiences” Peter Rak, Delo 12 Aug 2012

 

  • “It stirs the senses and emotions to a feverish pitch and makes one look inwards and ask whether art should be judged at all and in what way.” Igor Đukić, Siol net, October 2010

 

  • So what is happening to our civilisation, I wonder. Children who are not touched become problematic adults, who cannot be touched or who are not touched become ill; what will happen to a civilisation that has stopped touching? It is as if we were works of art that would wear out, fall apart from too much touching. That’s why the Sensorium Theatre, run with all the senses by Barbara Pia Jenič, acts as a cure. For touch in the theatre. Perhaps this is where the new theatre could compete with the new technologies.” Vesna Milek, She, March 2009

 

  • “You are used to coming to the theatre, sitting in the seat marked on your ticket and watching the show. All that the performance usually requires of you is a mental effort, a conscious monitoring. You can follow it attentively and even “fall out”, you can doze off if it is boring. But the Sensorium Theatre tries to go beyond the usual theatre and make your feet, your hands, your mouth, all six of your senses move along with your head. It pulls you by the hand and makes you participate, become part of the theatre’s inventory. Interactivity is the main word of the creators.” Ana Ivančič, InDirekt, 4. 4. 2008

 

  • “Aimless wandering in a labyrinth, another of the countless alternatives to conventional theatre or the theatrical language of the future? Sensorial theatre, with its radical dramaturgical techniques and rapid popularisation, represents a new theatrical phenomenon that, despite its lack of methodological foundations, defines a new theatrical genre.” Pina Sadar, Kultura/Theorema, Radio Študent, 1 November 2006

 

  • “Sensorial theatre is painted solitude. It is creative theatre that is not just a cultural message, but an experience that transforms, gives, changes. It is charged to the last breath with poetry. Darkness, silence, solitude, space, smell, sounds, touch. This type of modern theatre seems at first like something invaluably fresh, new. But a deepening realisation comes that in sensorial theatre we are returning to the primordial, to the archetypes of experience. Here, a language is used that is as old as man. And archetypal memory. The core of existence; the elemental, the return to the self. In a natural way.” Nina Kokelj, Nedelo 2.okt.2005

 

  • Currently, society is filled with visual information which hardly ever penetrates into one’s personal life. Still, performance can be a mystical game bringing up deep personal essences. A decade ago, Senzorium was established. Since then they suprise their audience every year, with new performances, based on one intriguing philosophical or psychological dilemma. Sensory theatre deliberately encourages active participation through all the senses of its spectators. As active participants in any performance, the spectators journey through a labyrinth offering mystical adventures on interior paths and traces of the subconscious…” Uroš Lebar, Slovenian Times, Oct. 2005

 

  • In the few years of its existence, the Senzorium Theatre has created a distinctive aesthetic, so that in every new performance it can start in medias res, without unnecessary introductions and explanations. More importantly, it has cultivated a sympathetic audience with which it can – more or less, of course – do whatever it wants. .. to lead the spectator, who unhesitatingly surrenders himself to his guide, with his eyes covered, through the space, that is to say, to lead him anywhere, metaphorically speaking, albeit to the edge of the abyss and into the middle of hell, is not something to be done lightly; conventional drama has yet to make the effort to do so. And its effect is never as material or physical, corporeal, as that of the sensorial theatre, where the spectator, especially because he “cannot see”, activates the other senses all the more strongly…” Blaž Lukan, Delo 23 June 2005

RADIO, TV and journals available online

2021 Amfiteater, Journal of Performing Arts Theory, Volume 9, Number 2, Sensorial theatre, On the Scent Trail in and beyond Everyday Life

2021 A journey through the history of smells, Erika Labiani, Sigledal critique 13 December

2021 The Unfathomable Mystery of Smell, Tanisa Pipan, Sigledal critique 13 December

2021 The Fragrant and smelly Experience, Helena Štoka, Sigledal critique 13 December

2021 Documentary Scented Secrets, Primorski dnevnik, 25. oktober

2021 In SSG Trst premiere of the sensorial play Scented secrets, Sigledal, 24. oktober

2021 The history of smells in the theatre, RAI TV, IT, 23. oktober

2021 Premiere of the sensorial play Scented Secrets at the Slovenian Teatro stabile Trieste, STA, 22. oktober

2021 Scented secrets, a special experience, Primorski dnevnik, 22. oktober

2021 A round of applause for Scented Secrets, FB SSG Trst, 22.oktober

2021 Public will really breathe with the actors and enjoy fragrant secrets, Primorske novice Kultura, 22. oktober

2021 Scented secrets, TV Koper Capodistria FB, 22. oktober

2021 A sensorial performance, that guides you through the history of smells, MMC RTV SLO, 22. oktober

2021 From Nero to Napoleon, with all the senses, Primorske novice, 20. oktober

2021 A walk throught the history of scents, Primorske novice, 20. oktober

2021 Theatre through smells, RAI, TDD Furlanija Julijska krajina, 19. oktober

2021 La storia sensoriale dei profumi,Televisione Telequattro Italia, 19. oktober

2020 Sensorial in theatre: on the scent trail in and beyond the everyday, Maribor Theatre Festival, international symposium

2020 Lalabajke  Library Novo Mesto

2020 Lalabajke, Dolenjski list

2020 Lalabajke, 120 letnica rojstva Milana Jarca, Knjižnica Novo mesto

2019 Svicarija then and now: A place where new stories are written, 16th of June

2019 Divina Commedia Theatre Senzorium,  Kultura National TV – RTVSLO, Meta Česnik

2019 One hour of hell by your choice, Zdravo Slovenia, author: Katerina Ferkov

2019 Moellhausen Magazine, Scents as “atmosphere creators”: Recent experiences of a stage director, by Francesca Faruolo, 31st of October

2019 RTVSLO, Smell Festival Bologna, 28. May

2019 RTVSLO Švicarija, documentary, direction Amir Muratovič, 14. May, 22:14 – 24:39

2019 Sensa, Sensorial touch, 8th of March

2018 Primorski dnevnik, The Prophet or theatre for all the senses, 23rd of December

2018 RAI Furlanija Julijska Krajina, Sensitive and emotional Gibran, video, 20th of December

2018 Primorske novice, Cure for this era, 19th of December

2018 Delo, Sobotna priloga: Intervju Barbara Pia Jenič, 8th of December

2018 Dnevnik kritika: Premišljeno zlitje elementov, 30th of November

2018 RTVSLO Kultura video, 20th of November

2018 Zdravo Slovenija, Trust your dreams, 15th of October

2018 SI21, After the premiere of The Prophet, 15th of October

2018 Radio Slovenia First program, Dogodki in odmevi, 14th of October  (od 18’28”-20’25”)

2018 Mmc Rtvslo The prophet, … a cure for this era, 13th of October

2018 Sigledal The Prophet, 5th of October

2018 Gorenjska TV, Before the premiere of The Prophet, video, 2nd of October

2017 Govori se: Scent has a power of atomic bomb, 13th of May

2017 RTVSLO: A guest in a studio – Poletna scena, video 27th of July

2017 STAmisli: In Slovenian national theatre Drama, Huxley’s world with sensorial theatre tools by Barbara Pia Jenič, 30th of November

2017 RTVSLO: Kultura video,  4th of December

2017 Dnevnik:  Brave new world, 4th of December

2017 Govori se: More than 20 years of life with theatre, 26th of December

2016 RTVSLO: About sensorial language in theatre, lecture performance APT, 26th of October

2016 Radio Slovenija, Oder: Senzorium 20 years, audio, 25th of October

2016 Kozjansko – Svečana Akademija 40 let knjižnice Šentjur, 21th of September

2015 Delo – Reading, 13th of April

2015 Radio Študent – About Touch, audio, 12th of March

2014 RTVSLO – Gothic windows, video,  23rd of December

2014 Dnevnik – Life is more important then intellect and concept, 22nd of December

2014 Radio Slovenija, Night visit, audio, 24th of November

2014 RTVSLO, Scents of Roman city Emona, Poletna scena, 5th of August 2014

2014 RTVSLO, Sensorial soundscapes, Poletna scena, video, 8th of Julij

2013 RTVSLO Slovenian magazine, video, 2nd of December 2013 (from 11′-15’36”)

2013 Žurnal24 – Theatre, which tastes, smells and touches, 23rd of October

2012 Dnevnik – Generous senses 4th of August

2012 SIOL net – Vulnerability is our biggest strength, 21st of October

2011 Cosmopolitan – Keep dreaming, 23rd of August

2010 Mladina  – Barbara Pia Jenič, 4th of November

2010 Finance – Economists do not (yet) see the goldmine in culture, 7th of November

2002 Dnevnik – Smell reaches deep   7th of November