by: Georgina Saggiante Montero

A report on the placement realized at the

National Theater Festival of Croatia

ASSITEJ October 2016

Hello! My name is Gina Saggiante and on the next paragraphs I am going to talk about my experience at the National Theater Festival of Croatia as a part of the ASSITEJ Placement Program hosted by the Hause of Culture of Čakovec

From my perspective a placement is an oportunity to be in the middle of an artistic experience, where you will get the chance to see several plays a day, take workshops on your free time in between those plays, get to know other artists as you walk towards the theater, engage in discussion tables on certain topics of TYA and on your free time get voluntarily lost around the town.

The benefits are quite obvious, you make great connections with artists from other parts of the world and perhaps future cooperations, learn how other cultures see and do TYA and get tons of inspiration.

So this placement at the NTFC, in which I had the privilege to be part of, took place in Croatia, Čakovec to be more specific and as its name explains it was a teather festival that gathered the best performances for children and young audiences from this country. In return for this experience I made an everyday report of what was going on during the festival on their facebook page (Report that you will find under the title “The placement experience”)

For a week I got to see up to 3 plays a day for children and teenagers, take a workshop about the relationship between schools and theater, facilitated by Prof. Taube from Germany, see an exhibition of costume design, scenography and puppetry from the very talented bachelor students of the Art Akademy of Osijeck, and see how ASSITEJ Croatia organizes itself to improve and grow.

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In this report I will not go in so much detail of the plays that I saw, since you may anyway find that on my reports on facebook, with lots  but I would like to mention some of the plays that made an impression on me during and after the festival like “Pumpkin Soup” that remind me of how powerful the element of magic on stage is, and this by the way was the winner of the first  place as best play for children in this festival, and “Jonathanov flies” that inspired me to seek for  interdisciplinary work experiences.

One of the great surprises of this placement was to run into a lot of theater pedagogs that took the workshop with Prof. Taube. One, because it’s no secret I am a German enthusiast (since I am currently based there as a master student of Theaterpaedagogik) but also because he offered a very meaningful overview of the history of the school system in Germany, an analysis of the relationship (or divorce) of schools and theatre and what we as drama pedagogs can do about it.

We also got a chance to compare and analyze the school-theater system of Croatia. I must say that this workshop was really helpful, now that I am starting this master, because I have a much better understanding of   different ideas and approaches to this topic. There is still so much work to do to enrich this relationship and create future audiences but hearing the problematics that other professionals encounter as they try to do this makes me believe that we are on the right way to make it happen.

This workshop still lingers on me and I hope I get chance to talk with Dr Taube again in Frankfurt.

So me of you wonder in what language this festival was, well croatian, but yes I still enjoyed the experience, why? Because theater is obviously not all about the language and luckly there is always so much to see on the stage, that the whole experience was understandable and aprecciatable and I dont mean to get very “Boalic” here, but it is so instersting to see how a culture sees themself seeing, how they perceive themselfs as an audience and as creators. Sometimes I even forgot I don’t speak croatian! Plus on the way one gets to make  express friendships that are there to make the experience  smoother, in my case like Tanja or Davrock or Leo, who always gave me a little preview on the story of the plays, a background check on the group that performed, and  told me where to buy coffee (very important). All those little details that make you feel welcome. For one moment I though that perhaps  language or cultural barriers would be on the but as long as one speak english and have an open mind, in this net you will find open people ready to learn from you and to teach you also something in return.

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Like every theater festival they also organize a closure party in which I got to sing, by popular demand, “Besame Mucho”, and after my brief-untalented singing performance I walked back to the hotel thinking,that getting involve with this network gave me the chance to expand my idea of TYA, to make great connections  and to have a better view of who I actually am and where I stand on this field.

If you are in any way involved with young audiences I recomend you to get active on this network, because we have so much to develope, to talk about and to include.

Just to conclude I would like to thank Marissa from ASSITEJ Mexico, for the guidance, Mr Frabetti for answering very patientally all of my questions, Leo for receiving me and opening this oportunity for exchange which they care to continue and all the people from and previous to the festival that were more than lovely and helpful in their own way. Good day!

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Reports available at:

https://www.facebook.com/Hrvatski-Centar-Assitej-517581975024594/