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21 september 2021

Critique of the play BAMBI

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Critique of the play BAMBI

Nature in the theater

author: Divna Stojanov

The puppet show Bambi by director Jakub Maksimov, according to the author's adaptation of the novel Bambi, A Life in the Woods by Felix Salten and produced by the Kragujevac Children's Theater, visually and audibly transferred the world of nature to the stage.

Director Maksimov follows aesthetics and uses theatrical language he showed in his previous play for children - On the Wolf's Trail (Youth Theater Novi Sad), and in Bambi he puts musicians on stage, plays with spatial plans and insists on very precise movement of puppets. The scenography (Olga Zijebinska) consists of two hills covered with grass on which deer move, and which later become the home of Bambi and his mother. It is a very beautiful panorama of nature created by meadows and hills together with the surrounding trees which are both a drum and a metallophone. The music (Lazar Novkov) sounds and complements the image of nature and additionally colors the atmosphere in the scenes: in moments of great danger to deer, loud drum beats were heard, while the scene of Bambi's flirting with Falina was accompanied by a romantic melody performed on metallophone and flute. The puppets (also Olga Zijebinska), different small and easily moving deer, birds, squirrels and rabbits are very detailed and made of wood.

Directing is very seductive, which is rarely seen in Serbian children's theater, with rare stage solutions where certain parts of the story (showing a man hunting deer; escape of an animal in the forest; death of a deer caused by a hunter) are shown behind a screen where we see them as a game of shadows. The play of actors and puppeteers (Miloš Milovanović, Darija Vulić, Sanja Matejić, Milomir Rakić, Vladimir Đoković, Ljubica Radomirović, Marko Đurić) was practiced to perfection. The animation of the puppets was performed with such ease that the actors themselves became invisible and all eyes were fixed only on the puppets.

All these elements together made the audience feel as if they were on some kind of glade or coniferous forest, watching a herd of deer. It was as if the air in the auditorium itself had become a real forest air. However, the stories about Bambi's upbringing, the loss of his mother and, on the other hand, the story of his friend Rono, who is caught by a hunter and then returned to the forest, remain very succinctly told and insufficiently elaborated. In the middle of the play, the focus shifts from Bambi to Rono and it is unclear which story director wants to tell and what the idea of the text is. A tragic event such as the death of a mother and a friend completely ran out, which is a big omission, especially for a theater intended for children. Also, no animal has a character or at least a different way of speaking.

However, if the play is seen as a revival or showing of several random episodes from Bambi's life and if the viewing does not search for a coherent story but takes pleasure from visual and audio sensations, then the performance can be characterized as very successful and stylistically special.

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Subotica International Festival of Children's Theatres