Željko Hubač

Selector's report

Zvezdarište Theatre 2022 - Sanctuary of Smiles


Two years ago, around this time, we remembered our Festival with nostalgia. It is certain that in the fall of 2020, there was no great time distance in relation to the Zvezdarište Theatre, which was realized in 2019, so much so that we would develop nostalgia in real circumstances. But the fact is that then, for months overwhelmed by a pandemic and a kind of forced alienation, to which we are not accustomed, we who are accustomed to theatrical interaction, did not know when we will be able to organize the next festival. 

We didn't even know whether the children's theatres, due to the new circumstances, would have a production worthy of the standards we had tried to establish with Zvezdarište in previous years, trying to bring the best performances from the region to Belgrade, trying to give the best selection and carefully select the jury, emphasize and affirm new valuable aesthetic movements and influence the repertoire of children's theatres - of course within the limits of the real powers of a Festival. 

So, all that made us look at what has already been achieved with a strange feeling of the mentioned nostalgia, which was inevitably conditioned by the real fear for the future not only of the Festival, but also of the theatre in general.

Maybe then, as never before, we realized the extent to which the Zvezdarište Theatre is actually a kind of spiritual refuge for us. A haven of smiles, for which we cried out in moments of all kinds of quarantine.

And so, the smile returned to us, long before pessimism lost the battle with innate human optimism! Long before the beginning of this year's Zvezdarište Theatre, when applications from theaters from Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, North Macedonia, Austria, Italy, Romania began to arrive ... Almost 40 applications from 35 cities. We realized that the children's theatre, probably the most sensitive to the crisis - given the small budgets, large number of non-institutional troupes and small media attention - showed exceptional vitality, not only because of the quantity (number of applications) but also because of the quality!!! Truth be told, this year's offer, as a whole, was not at the level of some previous years, but if we evaluate the quality of production through the artistic range of performances that were shortlisted for this year's selection, then we can say that Zvezdarište Theatre 2022 will be one of the better in the past decade. Here is a reason to smile, because in a time of all kinds of devastating absurdities, this is one of those that awakens hope.

As a selector, it was especially interesting for me this year that the authors had a strong need to communicate with young audiences by thinking carefully about thematic frameworks that we can say are largely socially engaged and undoubtedly socially responsible. At the same time, all kinds of problems of growing up (rejection due to physical disabilities, poverty, identity problems, lack of love, both in the family and in society in general, maladaptation, etc.) are problematized in an artificial way, and innovations in expression, especially in animation, in some performances, as someone who has been following the development of children's theatre for many years, pleasantly surprised me.

I am sorry that all 14 shortlisted performances could not be part of the festival program, but the decision to include 9 titles in the selection was made with the desire to, on the one hand, uncompromisingly sharpen the quality and point out obvious changes, which are a consequence of a thoughtful and artistically relevant approach to thematic challenges, and on the other hand to support those theatres that, even in times of scarce production power, were able to take risks in order to support the author's ambitions.

I suggest to the Festival Council that the following plays be included in the competition program of the Zvezdarište Theater 2022:

  1. "She is Fat" Youth Theater, Novi Sad
  2. "Little Frida", City Theatre Žar ptica, Zagreb
  3. "A Quiet Boy" Children's Theatre, Kragujevac
  4. "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" Theatre "Bosko Buha", Belgrade
  5. "Peter and the Wolf" Children's Theatre of Republika Srpska, Banja Luka
  6. "Boy with a Suitcase" Small Theatre "Duško Radovic", Belgrade
  7. "White Mane" Pinocchio Puppet Theatre, Belgrade
  8. "Pinocchio like you‘ve never seen before" Kraljevo Theatre, Kraljevo
  9. "For Your Own Good" Dah Theatre, Belgrade

In Belgrade, April 2022.

Željko Hubač