They are greeted at the entrance to the gorge by ice-clad trees, branches, rocks and sculptures arranged by Pavel Skumavc, the heart and soul of the ice nativity play. The battle against nature and increasingly warmer temperatures is hard, but Pavel is patient. “I get virtually no sleep, all I do is think about what more could be done”, said Pavel. Each ice creation requires thorough planning, and the result is nothing short of a true ice masterpiece.
“It’s a shame that people usually rush directly to the play, consequently overlooking plenty of things, which they later regret”, explained one of the directors and screenwriters, Nataša Cotman.
And this is exactly what the shows in Mlačca are all about – to stop for a moment and take the time to look inside as well as outside ourselves. According to Cotman, the meaning of the ice kingdom nativity play is not at all strictly religious. The cast is very diverse, too, since it doesn’t consist only of Christians, but at one point also included a Muslim. “I remember a boy who wasn’t religious and was assigned the role of a prophet. Since he knew nothing about it, he asked his Grandma to go through the Bible with him, and he studied his role”, explained Cotman.
“Everyone can relate to our stories at a certain point in their lives”, she added. Pavel remembers a man who was so touched by a particular accompanying story about the relationship between a husband and wife that he stormed out of the gorge, “ranting” because they told “his” story.
Special bonds form between the actors and the audience that are best described by the director of the Biblical part of the spectacle, Elizabeta Skumavc. “There was once a power outage during the play. The actors and audience spontaneously sang Silent Night together and kept singing until the power came back.”
In short, the Live Nativity Play in the Ice Kingdom is a gift that leaves a strong mark even if you can’t take it with you physically, and it lights hope in the heart of everyone that enters the ice kingdom of the Mlačca Gorge.