Is this an enchanted country, do whole regions of this kind exist? Since the late nineteenth century people have been leaving what is now eastern Slovakia in search of work. While their first destination was America (Andy Warhol was the son of Ruthenian emigrants), present-day caravans of guest workers commute to Switzerland, Austria as well as Slovakia’s capital city, Bratislava.
The welfare system of these Western countries, Austria in particular, would collapse without Slovak carers and nurses, while the Slovak system, too, would also be severely shaken if an entire army of domestics, nurses and builders stayed away. Two separate worlds linked in existential terms. Two week-long shifts, weekend marriages and families. The promises made by two prime ministers of the newly independent Slovakia, that the country would soon turn into a second Switzerland, sound laughable today. Instead, Slovakia has turned into a kind of service station, while the domestic situation, especially in the east of the country, has hardly changed at all. This is the theme of Zuzana Uličianska’s documentary play Tagebuch, based on diaries of Slovak carers and nurses. Any similarities between the play’s characters and the depressing reality are intentional. The names of the protagonists – Ľubica and Rozália, two Slovak carers, exploited because of their pre-pension age, and their Austrian patient Hanneich, an Alzheimer’s sufferer and alcoholic to boot – are interchangeable as the audience recognizes their own acquaintances in their stories.
Theatre critic, journalist and playwright. Since 2004 she has been a staff writer for the daily SME, mainly covering the arts. After graduating from Technical University in Košice, from 1992 to 1994 she studied public administration at Academia Istropolitana. She took a course in political science at London University’s Birkbeck College. A brief stint at as Head of the Culture Desk at Košice Town Hall was followed by the Slovak Ministry of Culture and several years at the Slovak Theatre Institute. She has also taught at the Theatre Department of the Academy of Performing Arts in Slovakia. In 1996 she studied at the International Summer School for young playwrights at London’s Royal Court Theatre. She has also worked for the theatre journal Teatro, Divadlo v medzičase as well as the weekly Domino. In 1996 she initiated the Dosky (Boards) theatre award, which she continues to curate. She chairs the Slovak section of the International Association of Theatre Critics (SC AICT). Her first radio play, Ak bude pekne, pôjdeme von (If It´s Fine, We Shall Go Out) won the main prize at the 1993 international Prix Futura festival in Berlin. In 2000 her play Citová zmes (Emotional Mix, 1999) was shortlisted at the international Prix Italia festival. Her plays for Slovak public radio include Rádio Labyrint (Radio Labyrinth, 1992), Myš (Mouse, 1997), Marta a Martina (Marta and Martina, 1996), Čarodejník z krajiny Ost (Wizard of Ost, 2003), Para (2004, Steam), Za vodou (Confortably Off, 2006) and Začiatky koncov (Beginnings of Ends, 2007). She is also the author of a number of dramatisations.