“I’m always ready for new challenges and broadening my horizons, because I am aware that my newly acquired knowledge makes my work easier.”
Q: How would you describe your position at Cankarjev dom?
The most important tasks of the Technical director position are planning, organising, managing, coordinating and supervising work in the technical sector. Alongside this is the coordination of work with other sectors and organisational units, which can include the planning and implementation of financial plans, investment programme and personnel policy in the sector. One also has to have an up-to date awareness for the technological development of the institute, which helps in the preparation of a strategy for the working area.
Karmen finished her postgraduate studies (Master of Arts) at Middlesex University (London) in the field of stage production / technology and event management. Employed at Cankarjev dom since 1992, from 2007 she was engaged as head of the technical implementation for the programme and more recently, from 2014, in the role of technical director. In addition to the tasks of technical director, she also leads the most demanding in-house projects in terms of organisation and logistics, as well as technical and operative terms. On projects she cooperates with external creators and performers right through from concept to content and the design idea process. In her long-standing practice of managing theatre, dance and music projects she has worked with some of the world’s most prominent artists and artistic groups. From 2007 to 2013 (end of the programme) she was a lecturer at the Institute and Academy for Multimedia (IAM) and from 2009 to 2012 also at the Academy of Visual Arts (AVA).
The successful operation of individual areas of technical performance depends on teamwork and mutual communication
Q: Did you always want to work in stage production / technology and event management?
I have always been attracted to the world of theatre; it seemed to me very mysterious and this probably made it even more attractive for me. My early career in Cankarjev dom was developed through different working duties, so by becoming a technical director I did not want to give up the direct contact with the theatre.
The areas of technical theatre interact mutually, simultaneously and interdependently on each other. Thus, the successful operation of individual areas of technical performance depends on teamwork and mutual communication. Each new show or event triggers this and knowing and exploring the possibilities of implementing individual areas provides a great deal of creativity and ingenuity, and here is where you find all of the job’s charm. How good you then feel when you come up with the answer for the technical implementation of an artistic concept!
Q: What gives you the most motivation at your work?
Work in a cultural-congress centre really doesn’t have particular time parameters, so work can be set back until late at night and might continue bright and early the next morning, and yet all of this is of minor importance against the joy that this job offers. Of course it therefore requires a substantial level of self-organisation and I can honestly say, for myself, that organisation is really my virtue, both in my private as well as my professional life. I’m always ready for new challenges and broadening my horizons, because I am aware that my newly acquired knowledge makes my work easier and of a better quality.
I am deeply committed to my work and it is also very often the necessary priority in my life. The strategy of my work is based on setting a specific goal and then realising that goal as soon as possible. I work with different groups of people all the time and often lead these groups, so the ability to plan, coordinate and monitor the work is necessary. The theatre and everything connected to it is obviously the one place that makes me happy, where my life begins and ends, so to speak. It is here that I feel home, and where every new day is different to the previous one.
Taking responsibility for assignments, searching for and implementing good solutions, working with experts in the technical field and with artists in the performing arts are, in short, my challenges and the driving force behind the implementation of my goals.
Q: What has been your star moment so far and your favourite project at Cankarjev dom with which you would praise yourself most highly?
Taking on the role of the technical director was my long-time desire, the fulfilment of which represented the pinnacle of my career, at least until now. Of course, the realization of the vision and goals makes me happy every day, brings joy and gives me new strength to achieve my objectives. In all of the years working here there have been so many big projects and performances…but of all these I would like to highlight the Iliad by director Jernej Lorenci and, of course, our latest co-production, War and Peace.
Q: Working in the event industry is one of the most stressful jobs one can do. In what way do you deal with the stress?
It seems to me that most of the stress caused by my work is a positive form of stress. I actually work best when I’m full of adrenaline – I need it for my work! When I find myself already jogging down the hall (and no longer walking), I achieve the highest level of excitement and this initiates real, creative work. Otherwise in my spare time, I enjoy reading and different sport activities.
Q: What will be new in 2017 in your area and what are your main challenges for 2017?
My main challenge will be the staging of the theatrical performance War and Peace in co-production with SNG Drama Ljubljana and Ljubljana City Theatre. Then there is achieving our annual challenge of implementing our programme at the highest level of professionalism and the on-going concern for the functioning of every vital part of our house. I am especially looking forward to new purchases of technical equipment, which will lift the level of performance of various events.
Q: You have mentioned that you are currently co-producing Leo Tolstoy’s great novel War and Peace. This is a huge project for you, so what are the main challenges involved and how important is this work for Cankarjev dom?
I think that the desire to use as many segments of stage technology as possible and their seamless operation is the biggest challenge, of course in terms of technical and operative performance. For me, working with the set designer Dragos Buhagiar has been one of the high points of my professional life. We started looking at implementing options at the end of September 2016 and I must say that he has been extremely receptive to all of the proposed solutions and the suggestions on how to carry out individual scenographic-directed moments. It is with certainty that I can say that this is the show of the decade. The performing images are stunning and will require a certain time and level of reflection to fully comprehend them in all of their magnificence.
Q: What would be the first thing you would show every visitor to your country?
I would try to present to them the sights of our country that are not in all the brochures, those pearls that are often overlooked. In addition to this I would want to show them and let them feel the pulse of life, benevolence and openness of Slovenians. And, of course, I could not look up the chance to let them visit the only cultural and congress centre in the country with an exclusive opportunity to peek behind the scenes, which guests to our events otherwise don’t get to see.