Although the tradition of theatre in Koper goes back to the times of the Venetian Republic in the 15th century, the Koper Theatre is the second youngest professional theatre in Slovenia. Established in 2001 as one of the two theatres in the coastal region of Slovenia, the theatre is praised for its stagings of comedies as well as performances for children.
The theatre is the main co-producer of the Primorska Summer Festival, which during the 1990s was actually its spiritual predecessor. Since 2003, together with Obalne galerije – Coastal Galleries the theatre publishes the Gledga magazine on cultural events in the city.
The Koper Theatre has since its inception in 2001 consolidated its reputation as a theatre open to various creative approaches and directing poetics, more recently also to the production of musicals. Its repertoire consists of stagings of contemporary and classic texts, especially comedies, known for their authentic use of ethnically-marked dialects, as well as baptismal performances of Slovene dramatic texts intended for the youngest viewers. The theatre’s small ensemble often features guest artists from fellow theatres and collaborates with renowned Slovene theatre directors, such as Vito Taufer, Jaka Ivanc, Katja Pegan, Ajda Valcl, etc. The theatre’s productions regularly appear at Slovene theatre festivals and have, among others, received awards at the Days of Comedy festival in Celje, the Maribor Theatre Festival, and the Slovene Festival of Chamber Theatre (SKUP) in Ptuj.
The theatre runs several educational programmes for children and the youth in the form of a theatre school and workshops as well as presents theatre-related contents to the youngest readers in the magazine Svetilnik (Eng.: Lighthouse), a joint endeavour of five local cultural institutions: besides the theatre, also the Koper Regional Museum, the Regional Archives Koper and the Srečko Vilhar Public Library, Koper-Capodistria.
The theatre co-produces the Primorska Summer Festival, an international theatre festival that takes place throughout the coastal region of Slovenia and occasionally also in Italy and Croatia, and co-operates with the Portorož Auditorium and the University of Primorska.
Since 2011, the Koper Theatre, the Slovene National Theatre Nova Gorica and the Slovene Permanent Theatre in Trieste present the Tantadruj Awards, which honour creative excellence of artists in the coastal region in the categories of life’s work, best acting role, and special achievement.
Collaborations and international cooperation
More than half of the theatre’s post-production programme is hosted by fellow institutions in Slovenia and abroad. Koper Theatre’s programme also regularly hosts performances by other Slovene (mainly) institutional theatres, as well as enters co-productions with these theatres, particularly with the other two theatres in the coastal region, the Slovene National Theatre Nova Gorica and the Slovene Permanent Theatre in Trieste.
Koper Theatre differs from other Slovene theatres by making use of its geographical position to foster international cooperation, especially with festivals, theatres and associations from the ex-Yugoslav countries. The theatre thus regularly cooperates with Atelje 212 in Belgrade, Serbia; Chamber Theatre 55 in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina; National Theatre Kikinda in Serbia; and the International Children’s Festival Šibenik in Croatia, etc.
In 2009, the building which houses the Koper Theatre was renovated in the frame of the project Cultural Revival of the City Core, funded through the Norwegian Financial Mechanism, as part of the effort to promote economic and social cohesion in the EU member states.