Exciting measurement of the immeasurable

The performance "Geometry of the soul" was a magical journey through the thoughts of a young artist, magical and sublime, completely gentle, at once witty, completely poetic, above all healing and finally cathartic. We attended a real artistic act, unpretentious, but significant in the European framework. It was a thrilling measurement of the immeasurable and a true taming of the untamed. An epiphany that was greeted with a standing ovation.

The performer and author of the idea for this play, Alek Ćurčić, who was educated in Bulgaria, where he studied puppetry, while today he lives and creates in Gijon, Spain, was the absolute star of the evening among the audience.

What kind of mental preparation is required for this performance? We heard during the conversation with the participants of the Drama Studio that it takes seven hours to set it up. It takes so long to arrange all its elements, and does it need another seven hours to get it right in the head?

It's not easy. It is a rare occasion when we can have a day before in some theater to set everything up. Apart from physical time, I need to prepare mentally. With time I learned to adjust so it gets easier. In performances like this one, you can clearly see when you are not prepared. Something small is enough to go wrong and it's not the feeling that the audience should actually have. If you are tired, ok, you perform, but you are not completely there. If you don't have time to rest before the performance, to arrange your thoughts, you push yourself, you force yourself to do everything you need to do, but in the end it doesn't go very well. People may enjoy it, because they don't know the true potential of the play, but I do, and that's why it's important to calm down fifteen minutes before the performance, to be calm.

You measured the soul with objects on stage. And man has a soul, which, admittedly, he loses more and more. Is there anything that could prevent, or at least slow down the process?

Yes, we are losing our soul. And that is one of the reasons why "Geometry of the Soul" was created and how it was created. I noticed that people don't think about details, about small, tiny things, movements... People do something big and visible, but they don't pay attention to what else is there. They just don’t connect in any segment with the little things and I wanted to focus on them. I wanted little things on stage to have meaning and for the audience to see and feel that in every movement. In collaboration with those little things I set in motion on the stage I tried to find the soul of the audience, feel it and tame it.

When did you realize, at what stage of rehearsals, what age audience is this play for?

We haven't figured it out yet. That range is quite wide, it seems to me. We put it as eight to nine years old, but once we were at a festival back in Spain where it is a tradition to bring very young children to the performances, so we had children as young as two or three years old at one performance. They watched it with interest, they were calm and attentive, however, I think it would be good that "Geometry of the Soul" is watched by those who have an idea of what geometry is.

A child who has love - spreads it, the other one - seeks it

Actor Nemanja Oliverić is a grandfather in the play "Heidi". The story that caresses every childhood was performed by the "Boško Buha" Theater, and it earned a touching applause from numerous children in the audience.

When did parents stop telling stories to their children?

They didn't stop. I am a parent, they didn't stop. Stories are the best thing you can convey to children, the best thing you can do with children. And it's even better if you make up your own stories and let children be creative also. That way they can learn what a story is, how it starts, that it has elaboration, a plot and an ending. If they learn some lessons from it, then that's the real thing. I believe that real parents have not stopped telling stories.

What topics are important when it comes to children coming to your theater?

We had a period when we rushed to entertain the children, and it seems to me that this is not the right way. I think that children like emotions, they like to feel something, and "Heidi" is the play that brought that back to our theater. It is the right story for them, and the right story is the one that touches them, with which they identify and learn from it, no matter if it is happy or sad - because sometimes sadness is healing. There should also be sadness in the theater so that children can experience it, think about it, and be prepared for it in life. It is also important for them to know the difference between sadness and happiness, and to fight for their happiness.

We often tend to hide behind time, the system, the time we live in, justifying excuses why we don't spend more meaningful time with children... Is there some common denominator around which we should gather and unite?

There is, of course. It has always existed. It's love. It is the starting point of everything, including life, and we know how life begins. There must be love that grows into a kind of responsibility towards another person, children, partner... A child who feels love, who has love and receives love, is happy to give and share it, because he knows what love is. A child who doesn't have love is looking for it. Now, there are different ways to find it. It can also be aggression, the need to be in the center of attention, but that's where we have to work, to react appropriately and there are no excuses. We have to create a core of love in families and outside of them. Everything is a matter of keeping the conversation open and reaching agreement, understanding and tolerance.

A series of curious questions

A series of curious questions awaits the authors of the plays at this year's Novi Sad Theater Festival. They were prepared by young critics from the Drama Studio of the Youth Theater who are loyal audience of this year's festival, in the same way as last year. Under the watchful eye of their pedagogues, actresses Slavica Vučetić and Neda Danilović, and host of the Round Table of Young Critics, Divna Stojanov, they learn everything that helps them understand a theater play well. The authors of the plays we see during the festival, must seriously get ready for a series of curious questions that have been prepared for them by inquisitive young minds...

People make a festival

Each festival is designed with the idea of presenting and seeing the best, newest and most current works of the human mind. Festival creates a place of meeting, talking, thinking, exchanging opinions, but also a place of sharing the joy of socializing. In the theater club, the atmosphere is exactly like that... The ensembles that come to the Youth Theater these days are dear guests of the host cast, who are there to welcome their colleagues openly and with a smile: Mihajlo, Slavica, Neda, Sloba, Saša, Kristina, Jelica, Aleksa, Sanja, Ivan , Emilia, Ervin, Marija... There are also those who work tirelessly, making sure everything is on time, without tension and in the best possible order. They are called the red festival team: Sava, Ivana and Lola. Radmila and Ruza ensure there are full halls. Everyone is working together to ensure that the festival is heard of far and wide, as far as Israel, Macedonia, Croatia, Germany, Montenegro, Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina, where this year's performances come from... We are all at Ignjata Pavlasa street every day of the festival until May 15...

Telling stories that give hope

The world is not a place only for man, others should live too. Hey man, get that. This is what the play "Do Birds Have the Capacity for Fun?" of the Bitef Theater speaks about - about the future, a grain of hope and a warning on this island of hopelessness of ours called planet Earth. The play, which was based on the text by Tijana Grumić, was directed by Nikola Isaković, and the children of Novi Sad have never seen anything like it before. Drones were flying around them, the vacuum cleaner was talking, the computer screen was moving, the light bulbs were turning on and off by themselves, some healing, beautiful music could be heard... We talked to Tijana Grumic about the play "Do Birds Have the Capacity for Fun?" which talks about the apocalypse we are spiraling to, and which, after the tragedy that happened in Belgrade on May 3, seems to us only as hope.

How to humanize a man, that's what your play is about, that's what we're talking about these days, confused and terrified by what happened in Belgrade on May 3rd?

By giving him the opportunity to be with other people, to share time with them, to share love, support, compassion and to be present in the stories that still give hope.

How to tell stories to children, we asked ourselves even before May 3rd, and now we are asking the same thing even more and louder? How to tell them stories in the theater?

In the most serious way possible. There is often an idea among creators that children should be patronised, that they should talk about topics in a certain, perhaps more specific way... I actually think that they deserve the same seriousness as adult audience. That's how they should be approached. Children sometimes understand more than we objectively give them credit for. And in this sense, I believe that children's theater must also talk to children as if they were our equals. That's the only way we'll get to some dialogue, teamwork, that's the only way we'll understand what they need and what's important to them.

How did you come up with the idea for this play? It's amazing how many associations there are, what you thought of, what was loaded onto the scene...

Director Nikola Isaković had the idea of doing something in the form of a theater object. It is a subtype of puppet theater in which objects are used, and Nikola wanted to use discarded objects, some household appliances that no longer have a use or purpose, but were discarded as scrap, waste. From the very beginning, I knew about it, about the form, however, the director insisted that it is very important that I do not write taking that into account, but that I write a story that will be told by people, about the ecological disaster and the disasters that happen to this world, which were caused by us humans. The director insisted that I keep my authentic language and poetics, but try to tell a story about ecology. I liked the idea of writing a monologue that might be spoken by a vacuum cleaner at the end. This is how this play was born, in the contrast of inanimate objects that were given life through puppeteers. This is how the play was created, which tells that this world was not created only for man, but that he must live on it with animals and plants, and various species, that we are here in coexistence, and not that everything is subordinate to us - humans.

Did you have contact with children and parents while working on the play?

In several stages, we had open rehearsals, to which we brought children of different ages, as a kind of focus group, to see where we were going, whether we were going in the right direction, if we managed to get the communication with children going. There were elementary school students, high school children, students, colleagues, and they all reacted very intensely to various parts of the play. The children, for example, were surprised by the story about chickens and how they were reared in the past, and how they are reared today and how the meat comes to them in the form of chicken nuggets. Grown-ups have gone back to some authentic memories that today's children may not have. For example, I had a grandmother who lived in the countryside and raised cattle. I saw animals that lived in a different, more humane environment, while today we witness that these animals are bred in an inhumane way. In today’s mass production, genetic selection is used, animals are fattened with who knows what, everything is less healthy... In the play there are several aspects of our ecological unawareness and everyone finds something that is important to them. This play is not only for young people, or just for children but for anyone willing to delve into any of the ecological aspects on offer.

 

Theater is a mirror of society and life, this is often repeated. Life, however, has become dramatically intense and the question now is whether theater can explain all that is happening around us, help us understand it?

The theater constantly tries to do that, but sometimes life denies it, completely overpowers and invalidates it. Some things around us are so terrible and big, that if we put them on stage, they would not be believable.

Recognizing beauty in others makes us human

A terrible lion from a drawing, which was actually created from the letters that the great writer Duško Radović put together so expertly, was the inspiration for the director Nikola Bundalo to tell a story in Banja Luka, at the Children's Theater of the Republic Srpska, that begins with the words: "Once upon a time there was a lion". Talking about how the story unfolded on the stage, the young director talked about all our fears and worries, not only those that are part of childhood, but also the lives after that, and he also talked about the importance of recognizing every particularity of every person around us, appreciate it and cherish.

What was your initial idea that you wanted to develop in this play and tell the children?

We started with a drawing of a scary lion, and we were inspired by a song. We were interested in why always, whenever that song is talked about, that lion is imagined as scary? Is he really scary, or has society made him scary? Usually, when we see something strange and different, something out of the ordinary, we always give it some negative sign and it stays that way almost forever. And so, a lion that is not terrible at all, but special, remains a terrible lion. Few people think that this lion might just be out of sorts. We started from that premise, that the "horror" of the lion is the child in us, some talent, some creative dislocation from the system. The terrible lion is when you are a little different. And then we decided to observe the lion as such in various situations: in nature, in society, in the city, in various places, how he manages, even with his best of intentions to get labelled. We went through verses that are not the cause, but the effect.

Can it be defined, who is the terrible lion for today's children, or what is he?

I would not name any personality, nor any phenomenon. That "scariness" is any strangeness or insecurity that a young person has, whether it's something physical, whether it's some interests that are not standard. The fearsome lion is what makes us taller and I think that's the beauty.

Are children better than us, or do they consciously or unconsciously take over the matrices that we, again consciously or unconsciously, impose on them?

They are better, but they certainly take over their parents' matrices, which again depends on the parents, how they deal with their matrices. When we make a play for children, we also communicate with parents in a way, we address them as well because we convey the message on multiple levels. For example. the objects we use in the play are intentionally some that have been discarded, second hand, because the point is to say that everyone has the right to imagine, that everyone has some potential, undiscovered, and it's up to us to spot it and ignite it. It is important that children believe in the infinity of imagination, that they have faith in that imagination.

Does children's theater have enough imagination to be as creative and relevant as the Internet, which excites the senses in unfathomable ways?

I'm looking for that answer, I'm young, I've just started working, I'm fresh out of school. I'm looking for that answer, because I think it does exist. Theater has existed for more than a thousand years, in the East even longer. People have needed it for so many years...The theater searches, makes mistakes, but also manages to awaken something in people, and to each of us and at least once in our life, theater has offered  an experience that was not to be had anywhere else. That is the flame we keep searching for.

As a young artist, do you have an answer to the question we are all asking these days - what should we tell children after what happened on May 3rd in Belgrade?

Like many people, I felt helpless and terrified because of that tragedy. But I also felt anger because of the cacophony created on the networks and in the media. After the horror at the school, we can only pray for the souls of those children, stop and be silent, look at each other. And we didn't stop, we didn't shut up, we didn't look at each other, we started to blare out our “wisdom”. We started to be loud, to give diagnoses to society, so that we all now know why it happened and what it was. And not even a week has passed. Let's see what happened there - because we are all guilty. Let's get together and see if we can fix things. It is customary here for people, whenever something happens, to air everything out without thinking about the other person next to them, those who suffered, to spit out everything regardless of the consequences. That's not good. Too many people who are not competent get involved in something that is very delicate, that has caused a great shock. Unfortunately, something like this had to happen so that we would start talking about violence and aggression. During my first year of studies, I dealt with the topic of violence among young people and it's incredible what I found out, what kinds of violence exist in schools. If the system was doing its job, we might not have come to this. There were so many indicators that it was going to explode somewhere, and we did nothing.

Maybe there should be a campaign about the importance of people turning to something that makes them leave their phones, that is, to connect with themselves at least once during the day instead of the phone. To connect with other people. It may sound quixotic, but the book itself could be the reason for a person to disconnect from all connections...

Of course it would be better if people could connect with the stories in general. Stories develop empathy, imagination, creativity, thinking, I just don't know how to change that, to convince people to go back to reading books.

And why don't directors and actors read. One gets the impression that they don't read anything after the academy, they only recite Shakespeare, Chekhov and Dostoyevsky, clinging to them as a safety net. Have there been no writers after them? Isn't that something like trying to play safe? For example, in Banja Luka, the fantastic Stevan Grabovac wrote an exceptional novel "Mulatto Albino Mosquito", Banja Luka's "Imprimatur" published Slađana Perković's book "In the ditch", which has fantastic dramatic potential. It is totally Nušić of the 21st century. And no cares or dares to put them on stage...

I agree that it's a big problem, because it's like there is a catalog of I don't know how many writers that are constantly used to put on performances, and there are so many young contemporary authors, our colleagues who graduate from the academies, not only in Belgrade. But it's all up to the director and the theater. Why not give them a chance, let them take risks, and let them make mistakes... The theaters don't even have the understanding to give them a small stage to work on. Our repertoires are Sterija, Nušić, Kovačević, for which I have immense respect, but we cannot perform them all the time. There are Biljana Srbljanović, Milena Marković, Tanja Šljivar, and there are many others. While I was studying, the professor once introduced an excellent Romanian director from Bucharest to us. This director only stages contemporary texts. One of the students asked him to send us some of the texts, and he said - no. He believes that more than 50 percent of the director's work is looking for right books. He told us that it is our duty to, by reading those texts that haven’t been staged yet, look for and find those with which we will connect and thus discover our theme, a new writer, a new reading material, a new angle.

Dreaming through movement structure

The Central European Dance Theater from Budapest arrived at the Novi Sad Theater Festival with Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream": a project (work in progress), a dance performance in which the dancers revealed emotions and states through play and association. Last night’s performance had a lot of things happening during a midsummer night in the collaboration of Budapest dancers - desires, longing, light, but also the dark worlds of man when light defeats darkness within him, burst forth. After the performance, we spoke to László Madi, the artistic advisor of this troupe...

What does Shakespeare mean to young people today, how do they understand him?

We wanted to show them the different layers of Shakespeare that carry different associations. We didn't want to digest anything Shakespearean and hand it over to them as a legacy, but to reach a state where they are able to think through dance, and not just dance for the sake of it.

Do younger Budapesters go to the theater?

Our experience is that young people enter the theater less and less. For example, young people learn Shakespeare in high school, but the stories from Shakespeare's plays are mixed with other reading material and do not have enough space, so that what Shakespeare would like to give us as knowledge and experience does not come to the surface. Today's youth do not connect with Shakespeare’s work. So, our idea is to offer connection, to make them aware of that contact and its importance, to introduce the young to Shakespeare’s world through dance.

How to open young people's hearts to theater, how to get them interested in stories from real life?

It is too difficult to answer that question because there is none. We, theater people can't solve it at all, at least not 100%. We have, for example, some performances in which the audience becomes part of our troupe. They dance with us. And this play has one such variety where we involve them in the stage events. After the play, we have a conversation with a drama pedagogue, who specializes in communication with young people. I think such conversations are important because they help us make a good show that is understandable for young people. It is very important not only to attract them to the theater, but to teach them to master the vocabulary of the theater, theater signs, because that is the only way they can read the theater correctly. Without that, they won't understand anything and the theater won't be interesting for them.

The Three Graces of the Novi Sad Theater Festival

This year's Novi Sad Theater Festival jury panel that will evaluate the performances with utter attention and diligence grace three talented ladies: a costume designer Milica Grbic Komazec, an actress and director Maja Lucic and a journalist and theater expert Olivera Milosevic. This inseparable trio is a regular feature on both stages of the Youth Theater these days.

Who reads, lives a hundred lives

Instructive, playful and fast, artistically interesting and musically impressive, that's what "The Goat Trial in Višnja Gora" was like. The performance of the Slovenian National Theater Celje introduced us to six skilled actors, among whom was Urban Kuntarič. Tired, but satisfied with the reaction of the audience, he spoke shortly after the long applause, about how to communicate with the audience today, especially the young, why comedies are so marginal and underrated and how, even at the family level, we have replaced the common good with individualism...

How should you address the young audience today?

For all audiences, especially the young, it's important not to underestimate them, to give them something that's easy for them to watch, but tell them important things. In our play, it was done by speeding everything up, in the rhythm of the generations for which it is intended: there is a quick sequence of stories, a narrative, then there is a joke, a stunt, then music, then again like layers, stories, jokes... The young are used to Tiktok speed, they don't react to anything slower. And this is one of the ways to get closer to them, to introduce them to what you actually want to tell them. You have to think of a way to tell them some stories, it's not enough just to tell them. That's just the way it is, that's the way this time is. You have to combine science and comedy. It seems to me that comedy is a good way to communicate with them. I like comedy. It is always a good way of communicating something about the world.

And why are comedies so marginalized and underestimated, the profession itself underestimates them and looks at them with suspicion, both in the theater for children and in the theater for adults?

I don’t know. We had a comedy festival in Celje some time ago, I had a podcast with the best Slovenian comedians. We agreed that comedy was underrated, that there weren't enough good comedies being made, but basically we didn't understand why. We only concluded that the problem of theater space is that everyone would prefer to do art, to be special, to do some contemporary theater all the time. But I like performances made for the masses, which does not mean commercial or cheap theater plays. People like comedies, they like to laugh, and it's easier to swallow some dangerous things through comedy, things they wouldn't want to hear otherwise. Laughter is what brings us together and it's a fantastic feeling when I'm in a full hall and we're all laughing together. It's so cathartic and wonderful.

What do the children ask you after this play?

Not much, but they are always enthusiastic about goat masks, they want to try them, they really like how we sing.

The Slovenian folk tale, based on which the play was created, teaches us to distinguish good from bad, what is bribery, self-interest. Why, even in a time when everything is much easier to find out than, for example, when children were raised on folk tales, that difference must be constantly taught, pointed out, even to mature generations. Life is fast, liberal capitalism grinds us, and yet, how did we become so terribly alienated from the good?

The problem is individualism. We are a society of individuals. Just me, me, me, me... And we have forgotten about the welfare of the community, the welfare of the society. And that individualism now starts in the family. The violation of the core of the community, the common good, begins in the family. If a family unit works, children can get security, self-confidence, courage, joy, curiosity, that is, all those values that help them, when they go out into the world, to spread values they took and learned from home. Equipped with those values, they will not go astray. But since those values are undermined in the family itself, children do not have a healthy base or support. Because of the constant pressure on people, the need to prove things, to make money, everything has been distorted and shaken. I'm not a parent yet, but people I know who are parents already have problems communicating with their children, because of phones and the Internet. That absence of communication and awareness of the need and importance of that communication makes this world alienated as it is today.

 

How do you personally resist that rush, the pressure of speed, the imperative of living in two realities - real and online? As an actor, you have to absorb everything, and as a living being, you have to have some normal, safe base...

I have always saved myself by doing sports, riding a bicycle. And I like to read books. I like the saying: the one who doesn't read - lives one life, and the one who reads - lives a hundred. Those are my two bases and they are good for an actor. Because if you live a hundred lives in books, you might be able to live some in the real world.

Snežana Miletić

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

Novi Sad Theatre Festival is open

Novi Sad Theatre Festival, the second international festival of professional theater for children and young people, opened on Monday evening at the Novi Sad Youth Theater. With a minute of silence, without pomp and celebration, and under the shadow of recent tragic events, the festival opened with the premiere of the play "Coraline", based on the novella by Neil Gaiman, and directed by Jakub Maksimov. The festival was opened by Dalibor Rožić, the city's Minister of Culture.
 
Koralina2



"Coraline" at the opening of the Novi Sad Theatre Festival

Czech director, puppeteer, Jakub Maksymov, who directed the highly successful play "On the walfs trail" at the Youth Theater a few years ago, is back in this theater this spring. In the new play "Coraline", inspired by the mega-popular horror story for children, written by Neil Gaiman, the director has assembled a team of actors, seriously excited and curios, who tirelessly develop and realize the director's ideas during rehearsals. The title role in the play "Coralina" is played by Kristina Savkov, and the entire cast of the play consists of: Neda Danilović, Slavica Vučetić, Jelica Gligorin, Saša Latinović, Slobodan Ninković, Aleksa Ilić, Darko Radojević and Aleksandra Lazin. The music, composed by Lazar Novkov, is performed live by: Aleksa Ilić, Darko Radojević and Aleksandra Lazin, while the choir is the complete cast. The premiere will be on May 8, at the opening of the 2nd Novi Sad Theater Festival.

Selection without restrictions

Having seen 67 performances, some submitted for the festival, some by personal invitation or at other shows and festivals, in such colorful and diverse offer, whether it is about the level of production, text, theme, technique, and the way of performing the plays in question, my observation is that in a qualitative sense, at least to my knowledge, sensibility, and ultimately taste, there haven’t been any significant changes compared to the previous year.
With that in mind, my selection of the 2nd Novi Sad Theater Festival will consist of 12 plays that would be in the official competition.
I am not one of those selectors who find a common title for the selected plays, nor was I guided by a given theme. The concept of the festival, without a title, is specific to the Novi Sad Theater Festival, and the basic guideline in the selection of performances was a good performance - that's how I came to this selection.
While watching all those performances, I noticed that the basic guidelines regarding the staging of the plays that are offered to children and young people has not changed. We are still heavily influenced by Covid; it is still used to blame our theatrical failures on it and has remained a basic tool in the defense of lower quality, superficial, ‘safe’ ways some plays are being delivered.
This year's selection of NTF differs from other festivals with a concept of no restrictions, be it in terms of production, genre or anything else. It is important that every play captures the attention of the audience: children or young people. Each of the twelve performances is in itself different from the others and brings some peculiarity that we can hardly see anywhere else. Naturally, they haven’t been chosen just because they were different from the others, but they imposed themselves, whether they brought with them some new skills, techniques, virtuosity, aesthetic experience, innovation, or simply love for the theater.
Mihajlo Nestorovic, Selector and Director of the Novi Sad Theater Festival

"Gerda's Room" absolute winner of the first "Novi Sad Theater Festival"

"Gerda's Room", a play by Osobnjak Theater from Saint Petersburg, is the absolute winner of the first "Novi Sad Theater Festiva". The wonderful play, the wonderful lead actress Alisa Oleynik, pushed the boundaries of experiencing theater magic...
Grand Prix - the prize for the best play is awarded by the jury to the play "Gerda's Room", produced by Osobnjak Theater, St. Petersburg, Russia
The play "Gerda's Room" is uniform in all segments and showed the possibilities and beauty of a theatrical fairy tale by uniting all the components important for the quality of a play: light, music, acting and direction.
The award for the best director is awarded by the jury to Yana Tumina, for directing the play "Gerda's Room", produced by Osobnjak Theater, St. Petersburg, Russia
The award for acting bravura is awarded by the jury to Alisa Oleynik, for the role of Gerda in the play "Gerda's Room", produced by the Osobnjak Theater, St. Petersburg, Russia
The prize for mastery of animation is awarded by the jury to Irena Bausović Tomljanović for several roles in the play "Caffe kingdom", produced by the puppet theater Zadar, Croatia
The jury awarded the "Future of Acting" award to Dominik Karakašić for multiple roles in the play "Cafe Kingdom", produced by the Puppet Theater Zadar, Croatia
The prize for scenography is awarded by the jury to Kira Kamalidinova for the play "Gerda's Room", produced by Osobnjak Theater, St. Petersburg, Russia
The prize for costume design is awarded by the jury to Anisa Kornidova for the play "Gerda's Room", produced by Osobnjak Theater, St. Petersburg, Russia
The special prize for collective play is awarded by the jury to the ensemble of the play "Silent Boy", produced by the Children's Theater Kragujevac, Serbia
The special award for the original director's approach to the theme is awarded by the jury to Tin Grabnar for the direction of the play "Silent Boy", produced by the Children's Theater in Kragujevac, Serbia
The special jury award for innovation goes to Sandrin Lindgren and Ishmael Falke for the play "Invisible Lands", produced by "Livsmeldet" (Grus Grus Theatre), Turku, Finland
The international festival of professional theaters for children and young people "Novi Sad Theater Games" was held as part of the program "Fairy Tales of the Future" Novi Sad - European Capital of Culture 2022.
Congratulations to all awardees.
Photos: Vladimir Veličković

Ready… Steady… - questions...!

Children of the Drama Studio of the Youth Theater – Pozoriste mladih, primary school age from first to fifth grade, were part of the "Young critics" workshops, designed to be one of the supporting programs of the "Novi Sad Theater Festival". During the workshops, after the plays, the children discussed the topics and dilemmas of the authors, the way of working, understanding the text and craft.
 
The participants of this studio are usually taught about acting and theater by actresses: Neda Danilovic and Slavica Vucetic, and at the workshops held during the festival, the guest educator and moderator was Divna Stojanov.Very interesting, open and witty questions were heard in the meetings of the youngest critics and creators. The children were able to find a way to articulate their feelings about the play they had seen and it seemed that in this pure effort they were more precise than the great critics.
 
"The workshop 'Young critics' is a kind of introduction to theater art," says Divna Stojanov. "It is intended for preschoolers and younger elementary school students, and its goal is to teach them basic theater concepts and provide tools with which they can watch, understand and analyze the play, and later discuss it. The idea of the workshops is for the youngest viewers to build critical thinking skills, to gain the confidence to express it and to learn to explain why they like the play or not," said Stojanov, who specifies that they always watch the plays together, and then try to go into as much detail as possible, breaking down a complex system such as a theatrical performance. Stojanov believes that children's meetings with artists at the "Novi Sad Theater Festival" are a valuable opportunity for children to ask the authors about their doubts and to exchange impressions and observations.
 
"Through the workshops, the theater takes on an educational role in a broader sense. In addition to being a place of performance, it also becomes a space for discussion, reflection, learning and exchange of opinions," concludes Stojanov. In addition to all that, after the play, the children also filled out questionnaires in which they wrote down their impressions of the play.