We have to be honest with children, not ignore them

We have to be honest with children, not ignore them

We have to be honest with children, not ignore them

We were enchanted by the first competition performance of the Novi Sad Theater Festival - "Ronia", and its wonderful actors from the Skopje Theater for Children and Youth. Among them is Nikola Nakovski. The guest of our city and the festival of the best European plays for children and young people, which takes place from May 8 to 15 at the Youth Theater, Novi Sad spoke about overcoming prejudices and the wonderful friendship that was born from that – exactly what "Ronia" is teaching us, about how to talk to children today - in the theater and beyond, how to teach them some new tenderness, because the old one has obviously faded, or - obviously - is not doing its job well...

What does that brave robber’s daughter Ronia teach us? What does that story tell the children, what values does it convey to them?

It talks about two conflicting families who hate each other, about hatred that is passed down from generation to generation... A familiar story, right? We have it a lot and often in our lives. At home, around us but also everywhere in the world it is a common story. We witness the hatred and we suffer because of it. Our heroes Ronia and Birk are new hope. Children are our new hope, they have the opportunity to break bad old traditions and stereotypes that are already deeply ingrained in adults. Children open our eyes to change some habits, modify them, and make them positive.

These days in Serbia, we witnessed one child failing to open the eyes of adults as you say, but additionally showing us that we obviously do not see well and do not acknowledge some things in our society. What should you we be saying to children, here in the theater?

My sincere condolences to all those who lost their loved ones. We in Macedonia felt devastated by what happened and we are very shaken. As cultural workers, we have been having the problem of how to initiate and maintain children's attention for some time now. Their concentration is weak and short, in general, it is not much better even among us adults. The new generations are connected to the Internet day and night, and it is very difficult to convince them that the theater can give them some other sensations, that it can trigger their adrenaline in other, more essential ways. We in the theater are constantly under pressure to create the magic we create on a new level that will be interesting and exciting for new generations that will keep their attention. Those children, the first few things they learn about life - they learn with us in the children's theater, through performances, and for us it is not only a challenge, but a serious responsibility. I think that we can no longer, nor must we, lie to ourselves, we who work in the theater must ask ourselves how to approach all this thoroughly and more seriously. I too was a boy and a teenager, and not so long ago I went through various difficulties growing up, through bullying. However, an important difference was the absence of that magical and tragic aspect of freedom called the Internet, that boon of our time which is also and a great monster if it escapes the control of the one who consumes it.

It is obvious that, especially here in the Balkans, we have to start learning some new tenderness, some new communication that will make people emotionally aware. It's paradoxical that after everything that happened here, we are so callous. What have we been taught wrong?

Yes, we are becoming more and more callous, both adults and children. It is very visible and felt. Children get used to living in a kind of ignorance, left to their own devices. Adults justify their emotional absence with chasing financial security, the daily grind, the speed of life, but it's all an excuse. Time must be found. We brought children into the world. We did not ask them if they would come. I can't blame the parents, everyone has their own story and reason, but everything starts from home. In my opinion, that is the base. If you get the right guidance there, you won't be any different outside the home either.

It is also important how many times someone close to you asks you how you are, how you were doing at school, at work, and that instead of the shooting range, they take you to the theater, the park, to some picnic spot...

True, but even when you take your child somewhere, it must not be just the form, a way to fill his time, to do it just for the sake of doing it. You have to make the child experience the importance of seeing the show, of chasing the ball around the park... That kind of communication is another level of art and education, and getting new information in this way means revealing new possibilities, and at the same time discovering new affections. I think it's also very important that both parents, and we in the culture, actually everyone who deals with children, start to take a little more serious approach towards them. We no longer see children as children. We expect them to be adults. I notice this when I talk to the children after the plays. They talk to us like adults. Therefore, we should also have to talk to them with no pretense because children see that, see through us. We often say that children are the most sincere audience, but we say that so naively. And that is the blessing of our acting profession that children express their like and dislike for something and can talk about it. So it shouldn’t end just with - I liked it, I didn't like it. No, that is only a start of conversation, there should be further questions, what they didn't like, why, what they would change, to develop a discussion. In this communication, in this honesty, we must also be very careful, because these are children. But we must be honest as they are to us. And by no means should we ignore them.

 Snežana Miletić