From 28th to 30th November representatives from Austria, Croatia, Italy, Hungary, Romania and Serbia gathered in Belgrade for the 6th Europe 8+ network meeting of regional ASSITEJ centers, hosted by ASSITEJ Serbia. During the two days of intensive and fruitful program, participants discussed ideas for joint regional projects, plans and further steps for the Europe 8+ network.
The program included a meeting of the representatives of ASSITEJ centers with ASSITEJ Serbia members, representatives of institutional theaters and individual members who are particularly focused at inclusion and dance in TYA Serbia. Participants from Serbia presented the majority of productions and capacities of Serbian TYA to our guests from the region, thereby offering them an insight on the current situation in the field. It was particularly interesting to see the serious differences existing between institutional and non-institutional theaters in Serbia. However, their presentations have also shown that both are facing several important and common problems, which can be overcome through the development of joint programs. On the other hand, Serbian participants had a chance to learn about the structure of ASSITEJ national centers from the region, their programs, festivals and theatres, through the presentations given by participants from the region.
The regional network meeting coincided with the opening of the 47th Meeting of Professional Puppet Theatre of Serbia, a yearly national festival of the puppeteers. Therefore, the representatives of the Europe 8+ network attended the opening ceremony of the festival, and had a chance to meet with the festival guests and other TYA Serbia stakeholders from the field of puppetry.
This autumn was very active for ASSITEJ Serbia, due to its strong involvement in national and international activities through which it enables artists, theatre makers and audiences from different countries to meet and get to know more about each other. In addition to the regional meeting, ASSITEJ Serbia initiated and organized a Balkan tour of the Japanese performance Woven/Ayanasu produced by Theatre Dora and Company Ma, followed by a series of workshops run by Kenjiro Otani. Furthermore, ASSITEJ Serbia was also program partner of 17th Bitef Polyphony 2016, and organized a three-week residency of French writer Luc Tartar. All of these programs had great support from ASSITEJ centers of Japan, France and Croatia, proving the continuation of our successful and fruitful collaboration established through the previously realized projects.
At the national level, we are proud to notice the positive effect of many years of investment in the new generation of artists and theatre makers, who have recognized ASSITEJ as their gathering place for finding information on topics they are interested in, or inspiration for projects that may be of their interest. ASSITEJ started with programs specifically created for young artists within the Children’s Theatre Festival “Pozoriste Zvezdariste” in 2008, and to this date we have organized a total of 18 ASSITEJ workshops on various topics. This year ASSITEJ offered a workshop About the Theatre of Far East and organized the first staging of 2 out of 6 short drama texts created in the framework of the Small break stories program, along with a workshop for children on the dramatization of fairy-tales.
ASSITEJ dialogues project, launched as one of the programs hosted by ASSITEJ Serbia in the framework of the 17th Bitef Polyphony festival, continued even after the festival and expanded into a one-year program. ASSITEJ dialogues has been established as support to young theoreticians and critics, through the practice of establishing a dialogue with the audience right after the performances and writing reviews while taking into account the feedback from the audience. Thanks to the high interest for the initial project, as well as the determination of the young artists and others involved to continue the dialogue with the audience and younger counterparts, the project extended to the Little Experts project. Little Experts project is engaging children aged 8 to 12 years, with the goal of examining the ways to improve the quality and functionality of theatre for children and young people in Serbia. Therefore, within this project a group of 11 children guided by young theatre makers, is following selected theatre performances and participating in interactive workshops where they are discussing and evaluating the performances seen. The project is designed in order to help us see the theatre for children from the perspective of those to whom it is intended for.
Despite the intense schedule, it is always welcome to take a fresh perspective and new inspiration from the events organized by other ASSITEJ national centers. In that spirit, Diana Krzanic Tepavac accepted the invitation to participate in the Happy New Ears European International Congress of Music Theatre for Young Audience in Mannheim organized by Kinder- und Jugendtheaterzentrum Germany. One of the most inspiring experiences included the working visit to the Archive of ASSITEJ International, located in KJTZ in Frankfurt, led by dr. Jürgen Kirschner – a valuable visit that ASSITEJ Serbia highly appreciated and is warmly recommending to contact and collaborate with since the opportunities this archive provides are huge.