Theatre Epicentre was founded in 2007 in Zagreb, Croatia, by ASSITEJ Croatia theatre director Ivica Šimi? and other children and young people’s theatre employees. Its mission was to establish a theatrical centre in the region of Central and Southeast Europe as a networking platform for theatre artists of all backgrounds.
It was in 2009 that Theatre Epicentre took over the task of providing administrative support to Secretary General of ASSITEJ Ivica Šimi?, who served two terms until 2014, when the Secretariat was moved to Mexico. In that period, Theatre Epicentre relocated its headquarters, which are now situated in the very heart of Zagreb, on Preradovi?eva Street, in gorgeous, city-owned premises spanning 90 square meters. After constructive talks with the members of the ASSITEJ Croatia Executive Committee during 2014, Mr. Ivica Šimi? entrusted Theatre Epicentre, with all its assets as well as the obligation to manage the association, to ASSITEJ Croatia and UNIMA Croatia as well as several individual members. Upon completion of the formal procedure carried out by the assembly organs, both of these associations have moved to the aforesaid lovely premises, where they are currently working together on creating and implementing theatrical and artistic programmes for (and with) children and young people.
Theatre Epicentre decided to change its statute in 2015, stipulating that only professional associations and organisations which promote various aspects of art for children and young people in their programmes may become its members. In addition to the existing theatre associations, we also wanted to actively involve various associations of writers, illustrators, costume and stage designers, musicians, dancers and new media. Theatre Epicentre’s mission, based on informing and connecting all artistic endeavours and tendencies aimed at children and young people in Croatia and the region, has also been revitalised in this manner.
In autumn 2015, Theatre Epicentre began with the implementation of its activities and programmes in the form of regular thematic artist meetings held on its premises. We are proud to have been able to organise art exhibitions of three renowned illustrators with the goal of presenting and connecting the artists with the producers involved in theatre for children and young people (01). In October 2015, in cooperation with the Book in the Centre Children’s and Young People’s Literature Writers Association and the festival Watch Out – Book!, we organised a round table for writers and theatre producers dedicated to improving their dialogue and mutual connections (02). As part of this collaboration, we also organised a concert reading of “Banishing the Wicked Beast”, a dramatic text by Milica Lukša, directed by young Lovro Krsnik with the assistance of the Academy of Dramatic Art in Zagreb (03,04). In November, as part of the Lutkokaz theatre festival and in cooperation with another art academy, the Academy of Arts in Osijek, as well as UNIMA Croatia, we organised a puppetry workshop for professional puppeteers and puppet designers, led by Jelena Sitar Cvetko.
In December 2015, together with the informal platform Kliker (05,06), Theatre Epicentre organised a Meeting with Dancers involved in Theatre for Children and Young People. KLIKER is the first Croatian platform dedicated to the promotion of contemporary dance for young audiences on the entire territory of Croatia, currently numbering 8 different organisations, theatres and theatre festivals. At the Meeting, the members of the Kliker network presented their new publications, created in collaboration with the regional platform Generator – A Manual for Pre-School Institutions – How to Introduce Children to the Theatre and the Theatre to Children? and Dance and Movement Exercise Book – as well as the work and development of the network itself.
In the year 2016, Theatre Epicentre plans to continue organising various meetings on its premises with the goal of establishing connections among different subjects active in the field of arts for children and young people as well as disseminating the latest information at local and regional level. The process of redesigning the website http://www.theatre-epicentre.org/ is also nearing completion. It will include an ONLINE LIBRARY with contemporary dramatic texts for children and young people from the region, available in the original language as well as in English. Theatre Epicentre can also be found on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kazalisniepicentar/?ref=ts&fref=t .
We would like to take this opportunity to invite all interested organisations involved in different aspects of art for children and young people to send us information about their programmes. We are also interested in developing joint international projects and collaborations with the aim of developing art for children and young people at local, regional and global level.
For Theatre Epicentre, Leo Vukeli?.