Naj, naj, naj festival 2017



City theatre Zar ptica Zagreb organizes 17th International Naj,naj,naj festival from  19th – 23th April , 2017.

The festival was founded in 2001 with the idea to present the very best productions of professional theatres for children in Croatia to the young Zagreb audience during the spring holidays.

The specialty of the festival is that all performances are for free, enabling the children to spend their spring holidays enjoying the very best theaters can offer. This way they fall in love with the theater on a life-long basis.

The best evidence for the success of „Naj,naj,naj“ festivals so far is the fact that it became international in 2007. The festival competition is enriched by different views on theater art for children which every visiting theatre from Europe and the world shares as something specific with the rest of the participants.An amazing number of visitors- more than 6000 of them; the joy both the viewers and the visiting performers feel- ensured “The Naj,naj,naj festival” a renowned status in Croatia and wider region.

The festival is a competition of non-puppet perfomaneces, where an expert jury, composed of eminent theatrical critics, selects and awards the best performances in ten categories with the sculpture of the Golden Žar ptica (Firebird).


Foreword by the Selector of the Festival

At this year’s Naj, naj naj (The very best among the best) festival of performances for children, taking place from 19th to 23rd April 2017, produced by the host theatre Žar ptica (Fire Bird), we will have the opportunity to see unusual, outstanding and ludic shows that stimulate the audience, educate young spectators and by acting, dancing, music and stage movement send a message to children and youngsters that the theatre is a good place for entertainment, learning and spending and sharing time together.

The main criteria for the performance selection were overall scenic quality of shows and basic values those performances promote, that is, a clear and illuminating story, affirmation of real values, playfulness and artistry of the performers, alongside with the visual, musical and scenic identity of the performance.

As for the plays’ themes, all shows are contemporary, linked to local and global contents of our reality, like the pursuit for friendship, parental love, problems of divorce in the lives of children, a need for carefree play, discovery of the unknown (space, fantasy, fairy tale), immersion into the history of a city or the environment being parts of our lives, ecological themes and love and humanity towards the nearest and dearest that surround us or we are living with.

In all selected performances humour, scenic design, movement, costumes and music are formative elements of the shows, not a decorative content with the sole purpose to be liked or acting as a framework for no particular reason of placement or meaning. All performances build on a positive stance and a challenging relationship to the world that surrounds us, teaching young spectators the lesson about real life values through play, theatre and art, so much so that this year’s selection could be subtitled as ‘The Values of Theatre for Children in Our Time’.

The selection of Croatian performances presents shows by theatres and independent productions from Zagreb, Osijek, Split, Zadar and Pula. The international festival guests come from Finland, Israel, Spain and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Rhythm-thm-Fairy Tale of Rhythm, a coproduction of Studio-Contemporary Dance Company and City theatre Trešnja, directed by Renata Carola Gatica, tells of the pursuit for friendship in a musical and dancing adventure, and in the sense of performing it accentuates movement, rhythm and moving, not so much words, while the show of Me, the Donkey by the Children’s Theatre Branko Mihaljević in Osijek, directed by Dražen Ferenčina, founded on the ludic interpretation of prose and poetry by the Bard of children’s literature, Zvonimir Balog, stresses the multicoloured, merry visual identity of  the performance.

The show Half – Half, a coproduction of the theatre Exit, Theatre company Pinklec and the theatre Poco Loco, again directed by the talented Croatian Argentinian, Renata Carola Gatica, deals with the theme of divorce and how it affects the lives of children who become a single-parent family practically overnight. The performance has the appearance of a ‘punk concert’ for which special credits go to the composer Mario Mirković who, by his musical arrangments and rhythm, stresses the feeling of helplessness of children, whose life they thought steady and permanent, is getting destroyed.

Pumpkin Soup by the Puppet theatre Zadar, directed by Ana Prolić, pictures a story which personifies life through the socializing of pumpkins. This is one of the shows of the Festival with a powerful visual identity, a picturesque and dramaturgically important scenic and costume designs, accompanied by songs (music by Mate Matišić), which are formative and attractive parts of the performance. Unlike this ‘pumpkin-yellow’ show, the author project by Saša Božić and Ksenija Zec, To the Stars, by the City Puppet theatre Split, is created as a multimedia approach to the theme of how to research space by the laws of physics and fantasy – the performance is characterized by a powerful interaction with the audience and an amazing stage movement and moving.

The show Lara in the Animal World by the Touring theatre company Smješko from Zagreb, directed by Ivana Boban, presents the theme of nature in the woods and the protection of forest animals. Its authors insist very clearly on ecological awareness and the importance of education through play and theatre. As for this element of educational mission, there are a lot of similarities this show shares with the Finnish performance of Underwater Tale by the Theatre Tuike from Helsinki, directed by Nina Rinkinen, the story of which is told under the sea, where the modern world of ‘plastic bags’ destroys the flaura and fauna of the kingdom of the sea, and an animated film of very impressive, original and critical authorship on the topic of ecology is projected.

Zagreb Time Travellers by Ana Tonković Dolenčić, produced by Zagreb Puppet theatre and directed by Krešimir Dolenčić, lead us back into the past of our city by chronologically chosing important and breaking events in the history of Zagreb, stressing the relationship between social, political and natural changes and the people, citizens, who, willy-nilly , became active or anonymous participants of historical events in Zagreb.

The show by the Istrian national theatre from Pula, To Be is What you Should Be, directed by its actors, Lana Gojak and Rade Radolović, is a merry interactive play with the youngest audience, with an abundance of dancing, music and joy of being on-stage that children can recognize very well, unlike the performance by the City theatre Žar ptica, Fairy Tale of the Fire Bird, directed by Ivica Boban, that is a multilayered play with many connotations, carrying a universal message. The starting point is the staging of the legends and the myth of the emblematic bird which the director additionally enriches by a cluster of reminiscences from the iconographic tradition, making the performance abundant in dancing, visual and acoustic attractions.

How neighbours get to be friends in an impersonal and routine reality is what the Israeli show Neighbors is about, presented by the theatre Nephesh in coproduction with the Mofa theatre from Tel Aviv, while Marko Dukić’s author project Adventures of Bole, the Comet with the Theatre Nevid from Banja Luka, is an animated fairy tale for children, where the warmth of the story and the visual attraction enchant the audience within the show’s first ten minutes.

At last, but not least, the author project by Jorge Padín, Superhero, and the independent theatre El Perro Azul, is in fact a monodrama, presenting the enchanting acting of a live actor and a puppet.

Finally, I want you very much to enjoy the diversity and the power of the performing arts which is what theatre is really all about.

Željka Turčinović



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