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THEATRE: Atentat [Attentat / Assassination or Close Quarters]


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The typescript is a Slovenian translation of the theatre piece Attentat by a German author Willy Oscar Somin from 1935, which had a Slovenian premiere on June 10th, 1953, under direction of Balbina Battelino Baranovič (1921 – 2015). Battelino Baranovič, born in Vienna, was the first Yugoslav female director, with an academy degree. She later became known for her modern experimental theatre. 

The unusual theatre piece, which was written in 1935 and was soon banned by the Nazis, only involves two actors – a political radical, who receives the news of assassination of the dictator naming him as the suspect, and his wife. At the end they commit suicide and after their death the radio announces the error in the search for the killer.   

The author of the piece, Willy Oscar Somin (1898-1961), also known as Oscar Simon, H. C. Stevenson, H. C., H. Catwil and Willy Oscar Simone, was a German author or Jewish origins. The play Attentat was put on the list of banned texts by the Nazis. Somin immigrated to the United States, where he died in San José in 1961.  

In 1935, the theatre piece was adopted for the English stage by Gilbert Lennox and titled Close Quarters, instantly becoming a major hit. The play was also performed in the US.  

The text was translated by Bojan Stupica (1910—1970), a Slovenian architect, who spent most of his life working in the theatre as a director, stage designer and actor. Stupica spent most of WWII in the Fascist concentration camp. After the war he travelled to Moscow and Leningrad to learn about the Soviet theatre and eventually settled in Belgrade, running city’s main theatres. A Serbian theatre award is still named after him.  

This is an example was made as a record of the performance a week after its premiere, on June 17th, 1953 by an actor Vlado Novak.

References: John M. Spalek – Joseph Strelka, Biographisches Handbuch der deutschsprachigen Emigration nach 1933–1945, 1989, XXVIII.

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