A year later than intended, Novi Sad is European Capital of Culture for 2022.We present a detailed guide to the theatre and performance programme for the coming year.
Novi Sad has become the European capital of Culture for 2022. Against some odds, since the Covid-19 pandemic forced the event to be moved from 2021, it takes on this role alongside two other European Capitals of Culture, Kaunas (Lithuania) and Esch-sur-Alzette (Luxembourg). Novi Sad is also one of the very few cities to hold this title that are located outside of the European Union.
The concept of the European Capital of Culture dates back to 1985 when the EU Ministers of Culture resolution established the program in order to raise awareness of common history and values among European nations, as well as to strengthen local infrastructures and (inter)cultural collaborations. A city’s privilege of earning this title should also be used in making culture more available to the wider public with a special focus on decentralization. In recent years, most of the Capitals of Culture were not the capitals of their countries, but smaller cities that nevertheless have a substantial cultural potential.
Since the official program started in Novi Sad on 13th January this year, the city has been “overrun” by a wide range of art festivals, concerts, exhibitions, conferences, workshops, educational programs and other public events – and the program has just started!
The same goes for the theatre and performance program that is very rich and diverse, showcasing everything from classical theatre to experimental forms; from contemporary dance to circus, from children’s opera to devised performances by young adults; from local to international artists.
The full programme is divided into ‘bridges’, after the bridges in Novi Sad. These are called Freedom, Rainbow, Hope and Love.
The bridges are further divided into eight ‘arches’ with the following titles: Doček, Migrations, Future of Europe, Heroines, Fortress of Peace, the Danube Sea, Kaleidoscope of Culture and Other? Europe.
It can be hard navigating through this labyrinth of a programme, so SEEstage presents a guide for this year’s performance and theatre events.
Migrations; 1. February – 20. March 2022.
11.02.2022/ Újvidéki Színház
The revival of Neoplanta (2014) by one of the most important directors of political theatre in the region, Andras Urban, adds an ironical examination of Novi Sad’s multiculturality, since the show focuses on many conflicts and bloodsheds between different ethnic groups of Novi Sad throughout history. As with many other of his shows, Urban shows us the ugly side of reality and forces us to confront it.
The Great Migration of Archivists
28. 2. 2022/ ‘Mladost’ Institute for Culture and Education Cultural Centre
The Great Migration of Archivists satirically deals with the theme of migrations. The show focuses on three office workers who have been relocated from their “natural habitat”, the office, to the warehouse in a small town where they don’t have basic living conditions, but are forced to fulfll their obligations as a condition to get back to the “home office”. The satirical reflection on reality also manifests through the characters’ conflicts who start to argue who came to the warehouse first and therefore has a right to basic living conditions.
We All Came from Somewhere, Some a Little Earlier
7. 3. 2022 / Hall 1, Novi Sad Fair
Five omnibus stories of the show We All Came from Somewhere, Some a Little Earlier examines mass media sensationalist and stereotypical representation of migrations and highlights positive changes that migrations have brought over the years. The show also involves citizens in the creative process, giving them space to express their opinions, but performers will also break the fourth wall and engage in direct dialogue with the audience.
12. 3. 2022 / Hall 1, Novi Sad Fair
The B.E.T.A Circus is meant as an event for the wider audience, since it will showcase contemporary practices of illusionism and new magic, but will also be a space for workshops for those who are interested in circus, but don’t have circus education in their communities or even the form is not recognized as art. In that way, the project aims to strengthen the local circus scene.
The Future of Europe; 20. March – 15. May 2022.
European Youth Engagement Network 2.0 (ЕYE.net 2.0)
04 – 08. 04. 2022 / Secondary schools in Novi Sad and the surrounding
The EYE.net 2.0 theatre festival is created with pupils/students from eight European countries. Their interactive performances will take place in Novi Sad’s secondary schools and will address topics of migrations, women’s rights, Euroscepticism, solidarity, fake news, ecology, antifascism and economy. The performances will also be presented in other partner countries and there will be a documentary film about the project.
09. 04. 2022 / Tavern
Tavern manual is a show analysing the concepts of nations, national identity and nationalism and its story starts at a tavern, a place where many nationalistic discourses develop. Through the form of a musical performance, Tavern Manual will examine stories of national, racial and religious intolerance, but also stories of empathy and understanding.
The ChoreoChroma Project
09. 04. 2022 / Pavle Beljanski Gift Collection
The ChoreoChroma is a work-in-progress performance of artists and young people who participate in Pavle Beljanski Memorial Collection workshop on the subject of heritage interpretation. It is an inter-media performance of live interaction, dance, painting and music, and the audience will be invited to participate in a sensorial journey that explores the contemporary artistic expression and the legacy of the Pavle Beljanski Museum.
Art in the Palm of Your Hand/ The First Festival of Applied Theatre
28. 4. – 7. 5. 2022 / Creative District
In cooperation with their professors, students on the Master degree studies in Applied Theatre are planning a three-day festival of applied theatre in non-theatre spaces. The festival will encompass drama education workshops, interactive educational performances, specialized workshops and seminars for teachers, youth leaders and young theatre professionals, but another important goal is also to present interactive theatre to citizens.
The Groovin’ Street Dance Festival
28 – 30. 04. 2022 / Creative District
This Groove Dance Association’s festival will feature educational and creative activities, where young people will learn and apply what they learned in a fun way, develop their creativity, boost their self-confidence, meet new young people and create a support system for a safe environment without prejudice. Special attention will be paid to women’s position in street dances, Roma children and youth, disabled people, LGBT+ community, the children from a Novi Sad drop-in shelter Svratište and SOS Children’s Village.
Find Your Balance! With the Circus?
30. 04. 2022 / Liman Park and Creative District
The project intends to raise the idea of introducing circuses in schools and offers children, teachers and parents a new type of mental and physical recreation based on modern circus techniques. The circus attraction will be an opportunity for residents to get involved in activities of walking the wire, on stilts and ball balancing, and for children to become active participants in the centre of the city’s cultural events.
Novi Sad Theatre Games and Gulliver’s Travels
07 – 15. 05. 2022 / Liberty Square and Youth Theatre
The first edition of the International Children’s Theater Festival by the Novi Sad Youth Theater will host professional puppet theaters from Serbia and the rest of Europe and provide some new readings of fairy tales and expedition stories. The prominent director Kokan Mladenović will stage Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift with giant Guignol puppets and the entire actors’ ensemble from the Youth Theater. Gulliver himself will be represented by a five-meter puppet and a 30-centimeter puppet, and a live actor as well.
Do You Believe in Fairy Tales?
07 – 09. 05. 2022 / Rumenka Cultural Station
This festival – inspired by a deep human need to believe in fairy tales – combines puppetry, music, contemporary theatre and dance and is meant exclusively for pre-school children. Besides the music program’s performance of suite compositions from the Nutcracker ballet by Tchaikovsky, there will be premieres of three plays as the result of residential children workshops that will adapt traditional narratives of fairy tales to comply with the contemporary values.
Duša ište pozorište
07 – 15. 05. 2022 / Barka Cultural Station
The show Duša ište pozorište (The Soul Covets Theatre) will be created by children and the Youth Theatre actresses Živanka Majstorović and Neda Danilović and will be the result of a series of workshops where pre-school and school children will take part in creative writing, directing, performing, painting, singing, playing instruments workshops and doing shadow theatre workshops. The idea of the play is to promote ecological values by making theatre puppets from ecological material.
The Falcon’s Song
13 – 15. 05. 2022/ Újvidéki Színház
The performance The Falcon’s Song is the production of the National Folk Dance and Song Ensemble ‘Kolo’ and is part of the new reading of the fairy-tales approach. The prominent director Gábor Mihályi presents the conflict between the past and the present by confronting traditional motifs from the history of this region with the modern world.
Heroines; 16. May – 12. June 2022.
Mileva Marić Einstein – A Ray of Light
Serbian National Theatre; to be announced
This partnership production of Serbian National Theatre, Sombor National Theatre and Sterijino pozorje will focus on the life of Mileva Marić Einstein, a Serbian physicist and mathematician who was also the wife of Albert Einstein. Although remembered by history mostly as his spouse, her work is often overlooked and there is fierce debate in the world of science whether she helped Einstein in conceiving his ground-breaking theories or not.
The Poetess Milica Stojadinović Srpkinja
03. 06. 2022 / Fruške terme, Vrdnik
The performance The Poetess Milica Stojadinović Srpkinja, a cooperation with two theatres, the New Fortress Theatre and the Novi Sad Theatre – Újvidéki Színház, will take place on 3 June as part of the ‘Vila’ Art Festival from 3 to 5 June in Vrdnik. The performance will tell the story of Milica Stojadinović Srpkinja, a celebrated and acclaimed Serbian poet from the 19th century.
Drama about the End of the World
10. 06. 2022 / Danube park
The performance will be written and directed by Olga Dimitrijević and deals with themes of ecology, feminism, rebellion, family and relations between friends through the story of a rebel girl Vera who attempts to reverse the scenario of social injustice, destruction of nature, cities, and an unworthy life. The performance will be site-specific, played at a city park, and wants to resonate with a kind of agora, a public space to discuss and reflect on the future.
12. 06. 2022 / Egység Cultural Station
The performance examines themes of power and autonomy by provoking the established rules within the court hierarchy as an ancient symbol of a heteropatriarchal system. The Palace features individual performances of three women artists from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in mutual interaction, led by the world-renowned artist and activist Selma Selman who uses the body space to channel the voices of the oppressed and deals with the real possibilities of women’s emancipation and their need to gain knowledge.
Fortress of Peace; 17. June – 17. July 2022.
Spots on the Heart
18. 06. 2022 / Summer stage of the Cultural Centre of Novi Sad
The play Spots on the Heart, written in 1950s by Mosha Beraha, deals with the author’s experiences in Nazi concentration camps and his love story just before World War II. Milorad Milinković directs this play tackling problems of fascism, anti-Semitism and imprisonment of Yugoslav Army officers at the camps.
03. 07. 2022 / Serbian National Theatre
The production of Mephisto marks a collaboration between the SNT in Novi Sad and East West Center, a prominent production company from Sarajevo. It is a dramatization of Klaus Mann’s novel of the same name set in the German pre-war period during the rise of Nazism. It is a story about a “common actor” who collaborates with the Nazis for the sake of his career.
The Danube Sea; 22. July – 21. August 2022.
A Cooperation Project with Galway 2020
22. 07 – 07. 08. 2022 / Štrand
The multidisciplinary event within the program arch The Danube Sea, aiming to promote the cultural heritage and the protection of natural wealth of this part of the Danube banks, will take place on the most popular city’s beach Štrand. The artist Rionach NiNeill will play her performance with the objects that we bring to the beach with us.
Tin Can Theatre Fest
23 – 29. 07. 2022 / Štrand and other public spaces
The festival that is intended for children, young people and their parents, continues this year with an aim of educating children and young people both on environmental protection and recycling and theatre art.
Kaleidoscope of culture; 1. September – 7. October 2022.
01 – 04.09.2022 / Creative District, SCCNS Fabrika (Fabrika, entrance no. 1)
The sixth edition of dance festival Tanz Platz will be held at the restored space of Fabrika in Creative District and will showcase domestic and international works of contemporary dance.
Other Europe; 8. October – 27. November 2022.
Europe Beyond Access
10 – 16. 10. 2022 / Gallery of Matica Srpska
Thw festival of contemporary dance and performance Europe Beyond Access will showcase choreographic works of leading European artists with disabilities, and therefore become one of the few urgently needed projects that puts crip-art in its center.
11. 10. 2022 / Cultural Centre of Novi Sad
Seniori Retiree Association is organising an activist-artistic project Vintage Theatre that encompasses drama workshops on the theme of aging, and the finally will be a public performance resulting from the workshop process.
22 and 29. 10. 2022 / Youth Theatre and Creative District (SCCNS Fabrika / Fabrika, entrance no. 1)
The show Cat Claw is a dramatization of a comic book by Branislav Kerac which tells a story of the first Serbian comic book heroine. The Dutch director Michael Helmerhorst will helm the show. His work is known for its combination of theatrical elements and projections, but also for the use of pantomime, illusionism, animation and special sound effects.
11 – 13. 11. 2022 / Mladost Cultural Centre, Futog
The international socially engaged festival Vox City will showcase theatre performances from across Europe that deal with the problems of their local communities, and all of the performances selected for the festival are created in direct collaboration with them. The festival will focus on marginalized social groups and will have a special emphasis on round tables and direct communication with the audience, in order to hear the need of the citizens.
12 – 19. 11. 2022 / Újvidéki Színház
Sinergy is an international theatre festival in the fifth year of existence that focuses on ethnic and language minority theatres from all over Europe, and sometimes beyond. Organized by a minority theatre itself – the Hungarian Újvidéki Színház – the festival also focuses on connecting Novi Sad as a multicultural city with other multi-ethnic and multi-religious communities in Europe, creating a space for intercultural exchange.
For more details on the full Novi Sad European City of Culture programme, visit NoviSad2022.rs
Borisav Matić is a critic and dramaturg from Serbia. He is the Regional Managing Editor at The Theatre Times. He regularly writes about theatre for a range of publications and media.
He’s a member of the feminist collective Rebel Readers with whom he co-edits Bookvica, their platform for literary criticism, and produces literary shows and podcasts. He occasionally works as a dramaturg or a scriptwriter for theatre, TV, radio and other media. He's the administrator of IDEA - the International Drama/Theatre and Education Association.