There is much to see, experience and hear over the last weeks in theatre for children and young people in Serbia. With the end of the year coming closer, it almost seems the theatre makers in Serbia are racing with time, hurrying to achieve everything that they have planned and not yet managed to fulfill for 2015. The small amount of funds, which our state allocates for culture, delays in its fundraising system and its practice to subsidize only one-year programs make any long-term planning of programs and festival impossible. The lack of finances, which is becoming more and more serious with the emerging global problems that we are facing, represents one of the main threats to TYA in Serbia. These factors have already led to two important theatre festivals for children and young in Serbia being put on hold: International Theatre Belgrade Adventure TIBA and the national festival FESTI?. Lets hope that this is only a temporary situation. On the other hand, this situation that we find ourselves in has already influenced significant shifts in the calendar of festival events. It so happened that instead of having festivals proportionately distributed throughout the year, those festivals that were able to gain the finances and survive are now squeezed together in only a couple of weeks.
And so, on the same day in Belgrade, a regional festival of professional theatre for children De?ji pozorišni festival Pozorište Zvezdarište closed with the awards ceremony, and only one hour later a regional festival of socially engaged theater OFF Frame festival opened. The OFF Frame festival lasted until November 30, and only a day later, on December 1st the 46th Festival of Serbian Professional Puppet Theatres began. This festival is held in a different city every year, and this year it will be hosted by the Puppet Theatre Niš. Although it is first and foremost a national festival gathering the members of UNIMA Serbia, it is also a valuable opportunity to host the puppeteers from around the region.
If we add to our list of festivals the Mater Terra festival of school theater, held as one of Pozorište Zvezdraište’s side programs, all those who are not familiar with the Serbian theater reality will get the impression that circumstances for practice and development of TYA in Serbia are more than good. However, it is quite the opposite. In reality, thanks to the incredible energy and enthusiasm of persistent and diligent individuals, TYA in Serbia is able to offer small-in-quantity but rich-in-content productions to its audiences. Judging by what we saw on the recent theatre festival Pozorište Zvezdarište, the professionals are addressing the young audience with revitalized sensibility and diverse, genre, aesthetic and theatrical languages which convey messages of lasting values such as humanity, love, compassion, friendship, honesty, support. Despite the threat of alienation in our daily life, and the seeming lack of interest of young audiences to anything except for amusement provided by new technologies, a great curiosity for stories and fairy-tale motifs from the past is noticeable among the children and young audiences. This further highlights the urgent need for finding more serious, long-term solutions to overcome the hard feelings such as anxiety, fear, uncertainty and loneliness, existing among youngsters. If one can judge by the reactions of the festival audience, the children in Serbia love and rejoice in theater, and both Croatian and Serbian theater makers and artists selected for this festival obviously found a good approach to their audience.
ASSITEJ Serbia is present and actively engaged in these festivals through the creation and implementation of workshops and round tables, through participation of its senior representatives in the programs and debates, as well as through different kind of support to its members.
Workshop for emerging artists and young professionals in TYA at Pozorište Zvezdarište festival
ASSITEJ Serbia traditionally addresses young and emerging professionals with workshops created within the framework of Pozorište Zvezdarište festival’s side program. A series of workshops aimed at presenting and introducing specific practices in TYA was imitated for the first time 6 years ago. Up to now ASSITEJ Serbia has organized 16 different workshops that have explored various fields in TYA, such as: directing, dance, lightning, site specific, physical theater, role of cultural management in creating programs for young audience, etc. The intention of this year’s 17th workshop, entitled What young artists can do for themselves, was to raise the interest for ASSITEJ mobility programs, particularly the Next Generation (NG) Placements program, and to bring them closer to our young professionals. Diana Kržani? Tepavac, EC ASSITEJ member in a charge of NG Placements, gave an overview of the work of ASSITEJ and introduced the participants to the Next Generation individual and residency mobility programs. In addition, young Serbian drama writers Iva Brdar, Jelena Paligori? and Bojana Babi? shared their personal experiences from the Next Generation Residency in Berlin, Germany (2015); NG Placements in Starke Stücke Festival in Frankfurt, Germany (2015); Interplay program in Bergenz, Austria (2014); Studio European program at La Chartreuse in Avignon, France (2015); Directors seminar in Manheim, Germany (2015) etc. www.facebook.com/events/1727274947500819/
Round table “Parallels, a review of recent developments in puppetry in the region” at Puppets festival in Niš
Intended as a platform for the exchange of information on the new developments in puppet theatre in the region, this round table will provide an opportunity for festival guests from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Slovenia, to share the news from their countries in the field of puppetry, as well as their strongest impressions and observations from various festivals throughout the region. Furthermore, the need, efficiency and best practice examples of mutual exchange of experience and knowledge will be discussed, as well as the opportunities to establish such programs as the constant practice in the frame of the side program of UNIMA festival. The moderator of the round table is Diana Kržani? Tepavac.
“The circumstances, challenges and importance of working with children and youth in the field of drama art”
MATER TERRA theatre festival for children and youth from the fields of ecology and “ecology of the soul” in cooperation with CEDEUM/Idea and Pozorište Zvezdarište festival hosted a round table that explored the present situation and existing problems in this important area that should be addressed in the future joint work of representatives from the fields of theater, culture and education. The moderator of this round table was Sanja Krsmanovic Tasic director of the Mater terra festival.
The 5th OFF Frame regional festival of socially engaged theater
Organized by Group “Let’s…” with Boris ?akširan as its artistic director, the OFF Frame festival brings together artists who are, in different ways, dealing with the issue of identity. The festival opened with a theatre performance developed as a product of the work with children from the orphanages. By combining the forms of singing in choirs and rep music, the participants were actively engaged in the process of exploring and conquering the freedom of determining their personal identity/identities. Here is what the festival booklet says about the concept of identity: ”Identity is often promoted as a stable category. Therefore states, their administrations, various industries e.g. entertainment, systems based on maintaining capitalistic order and others, tend to maintain identities artificially, so they could use them for their own interests. Therefore, national identity, among other things, becomes the tool of maintaining “national” interest, maintenance of territorial (as well as financial) dominance. Neoliberal market profits, if any part of society profiles itself as part of a specific identity, and can make products that are, for example, primarily intended for LGBT population. Also, there is constant pressure on one to identify with a certain identity, which is offered in a specific context (for example in terms of gender). Resistance is huge when a person wants to get out of that matrix.”