The man who needs no introduction, Tomaž Pandur, kindly invited me to join him for a cup of tea while packing for yet another business trip, this time to Madrid. His apartment, filled with treasures he collected over the years, indicates that this is a home of an artist. A dreamer! An enormous bookshelf covering an entire wall filled with enviable collection of books and DVDs is the first thing one notices upon entering.
The smell of his Avignon by Commes des Garcons perfume leads us down the pitch-black wooden floor corridor to a white, almost lab-clean, kitchen where he is making tea. The statues of Alexander the Great and a sound of Max Richter’s tranquil music in the background of the cosy circular-shaped home office, where we now sit down to talk, fill the space with warmth and positive vibrations. Tomaž, wearing his signature white trainers and black tailored blazer, spoke of his dreams, fears, milestones and his age of innocence.
Venturing to Spain again. How do you feel upon every return back to Ljubljana? What emotions surface when you think about home?
Through the years I have realized that the meaning of my life is in permanent motion, therefore (due to my geographical, physical and spiritual migration) I have completely lost a sense of what home actually means. For me, home is where a person can start building something by oneself and, as woeful as it sounds, I have built that place, the notion of home, inside of me. Because after all, I am a person that is always able to adapt to the environment, wherever that may be.
Living in both states (Yugoslavia and then the newly born Slovenia) I somehow never felt that apparent, exceeding attachment to my home country.
What were your childhood dreams and in what manner did you face your fears and insecurities growing up?
I never had any problems with dreams, and setting my goals; they have always been gigantic and substantial. I just wanted the whole world… I wanted everything.
What’s curious is that up to the age of 16 I actually had no fears at all. The fears as such have eventually and inevitably appeared many years later. I never wanted to change the world, to change the unchangeable in order to achieve my dreams and to avoid and conquer my fears. Instead, I’ve built my own world. A world where I can create, reshape or demolish everything – the theatre.
By some means I got a feeling that you were some sort of an outcast. Could that be true?
Yes! Completely! I was an outcast by all means. I never wanted to be the same as everyone else, therefore I never followed trends, and what other people were doing for that matter. That never really interested me. I simply wanted to be different. I could, in a way, describe it as the age of innocence.
What was the hardest thing growing up?
It was challenging and demanding to maintain and nurture my own distinctiveness, my dreams, aspirations and most importantly – my individuality.
And also the fact that I have always been stigmatized by society as a result of coming from a small, narrow-minded country where art and theatre have never really been properly appreciated.
In your work you always show an amazing amount of creativity and a sense of aestheticism. So, what I’m asking is, how would you describe the word “beauty”?
I would describe beauty as feelings that are quite hard to describe. They can be memories, cosmic moments that you want to pause and preserve. It’s about building an emotional memory, so that one can relive it time and again.
The bravest thing you’ve ever done?
When I was 33 I left everything I had, everything I was, and moved to New York. That was the bravest and one of the best decisions in my life. I had a noticeably successful career here as the director of The National Theatre, but I decided to leave and for five years or so, I’ve placed theatre to rest. That was quite a radical decision, because I’ve experienced the change from being a somebody, to being a nobody. I’ve put everything on the line, but I’m happy with the direction my life has taken.
What is the most precious thing in your life?
Oh, that one is easy! Max, my dog (golden retriever).
If you could meet any historical figure, who would it be?
Nikola Tesla. Because he completely changed the course of history with his work, mindset and inventions.
What’s your favourite movie?
The tree of life by Terrence Malick.
“I would sell my soul for a moment of infinite happiness.”