The 72nd edition of the Festival of Professional Theatres in Vojvodina will take place in Zrenjanin at the National Theatre “Toša Jovanović” between 18th-25th April.
Theatre critic, journalist and the new selector of the festival Aleksandra Glovacki Velikić selected six performances for the festival’s main program and four shows for the side program of theatre for children.
After watching competing performances that premiered in Vojvodina theatres in the last year, Aleksandra Glovacki Velikić described that the current theatre season is troubled with “concerning material poverty. The result is a small number of premiers, resorting to revue titles and lower production quality.” However, she notes that budgetary woes cannot be an alibi for institutional theatres and for their lack of ambition to produce at least one relevant show in a season.
Aleksandra Glovacki Velikić noted that the Novi Sad Theatre and the Kosztolányi Dezső Theatre – two theatres of the Hungarian minority – are the only ones that produced shows based on contemporary plays (excluding the Serbian National Theatre in Novi Sad that’s supported by the state); all other theatres’ shows were based on classic texts. (During last year’s edition, Andrej Čanji’s observed that Hungarian theatres in Serbia are often the ones producing the bravest and most innovative performances).
Among performances selected for the main program of the 72nd edition of the festival are: Mephisto (Serbian National Theatre in Novi Sad and Foundation Novi Sad – European Capital of Culture), Why Are You Sleeping on The Floor (Serbian National Theatre in Novi Sad, Drama Theatre Gavella, National Theatre in Sarajevo and Festival MESS), Invisible Children (Novi Sad Theatre), Don Juan (National Theatre Sterija), The Seagull (National Theatre in Sombor) and Ludi kamen/ Crazy Stone (National Theatre “Toša Jovanović” in Zrenjanin).
Mephisto, the performance that will open the festival, is based on a dramatization of Klaus Mann’s 1930s novel about the rise of fascism in Germany. This big ensemble performance directed by Haris Pašović is, according to the festival selector, an artistically successful show that’s also very relevant for the current moment.
The performance is followed by Kokan Mladenović’s show Why Are You Sleeping on The Floor that’s based on Darko Cvijetić’s novel of the same name. The performance deals with the horrors of the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s and is about victims and war-crime perpetrators who were neighbours and often very close before the conflicts started.
Invisible Children will be the only performance in the main program that’s based on a contemporary dramatic text. Ana Terek’s story – brought to the stage by the director Robert Lenard – is a growing up story set in provincial Vojvodina that starts as a road movie but later takes on thriller dimensions and becomes an examination of the life of adolescents on the margins of society.
Andrej Cvetanovski’s Don Juan – based on Moliere’s play – is a performance that deals with “the insensitivity towards one’s own victims”, according to Glovacki Velikić. The performance focuses on the main character’s relationship with his father, while the ensemble brings the characters to life with both tragic and comic elements.
The last two shows in the main program are both based on writings of Anton Pavlovich Chekhov. One is Milan Neštović’s direction of The Seagull while the other is Radoslav Milenković’s Ludi kamen/Crazy Stone that’s based on Chekhov’s one-act plays A Marriage Proposal and The Bear.
The four performances in the program for children are: Don’t Go Far (Children’s Theatre in Subotica, written and directed by Tamara Kučinović), a family story set after the father’s return from the war; Prehistory Girl (National Theatre “Toša Jovanović” in Zrenjanin, based on Desanka Mksimović’s text, directed by Sonja Petrović) about the adventures of a girl and a boy in prehistory; Ludas Matyi (Children’s Theatre in Subotica, based on a folk story, directed by Djerdj Hernjak), a comic story about a boy’s love for his goose; and Stories from Neverland (Slovakian Theatre in Vojvodina, text and direction Katarina Mišikova Hicingerova) that asks who is Peter Pan today and examines the dangers of growing up.
Main image: Mephisto, SNP Novi Sad
For more information, visit: tosajovanovic.org.rs
Further reading: The 71st edition of the Festival of Professional Theatres in Vojvodina: the best theatre in Serbia?
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.