Subotica International Festival of Children's Theatres Subotica International Festival of Children's Theatres

Programmes and Events

The Festival consists of Official Selection (competitive programme), which includes about twenty puppet and drama performances competing for the Festival awards annually, and rich and diverse Accompanying Programmes encompassing street theatre, touring performances throughout Serbia and in neighbouring Hungary, music and film programme, scientific gatherings, theatre workshops, book promotions, exhibition activity and publishing.

The main, competitive programme of the Festival includes only those performances chosen by the selector. 

The Accompanying Programmes have been an integral part of the Festival since its inception and while some of them have become its permanent and inseparable part, others represent one-year or multi-annual projects:

International Research College of Theatre Arts for Children and Young People „Henryk Jurkowski“ (2009 – present)

International Research College of Theatre Arts is conceived as a multi-annual project with the basic aim to promote reflection on theatre arts for children and young people, with special emphasis on puppetry. The College is realized in the form of conferences. Several themes and sub-themes are envisaged for each year. Paper proposals submitted are reviewed and up to fifteen are selected to be presented at the next College session and to be published within a bilingual (in English and Serbian) collection of papers after the Festival. So far, more than sixty prominent theatre experts, theorists, historians, directors, writers and theatre critics from twenty-nine countries: Belarus, Bulgaria, Chile, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Iran, Israel, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Montenegro, Nigeria, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom and Zambia have participated in the work of the College, and the collections of papers found their place in university libraries around the world (from Rose Bruford College in London to Hebrew University in Jerusalem). The main themes of the held sessions were: Cultural Fundaments of Theatre Arts for Children (2009), Child in the World of Theatre Arts (2010), Our Contemporaneity (2011), Puppet Theatre in the World of Children and as an Art for Them (2012), Great Teachers and Creators of Children’s Theatre (2013), Children in the World of Electronics (2014), Postmodern Disintegration of Theatre Art (2015), Myth in Contemporary Theatre for Children (2016) and Directors’ Interpretations of Literary/Dramatic Text for Children and Youth: Problem of Interpretation Boundaries (2017). The author of this project is Mr Henryk Jurkowski, PhD, from Poland, who also led it from its inception until 2014. In agreement with Prof. Jurkowski, starting from 2014 the College is led by Siniša Jelušić, PhD from Montenegro. Head of the College is assisted by Miroslav Radonjic, MA, theatre critic and theorist from Novi Sad, Serbia. Leaders of the project are Subotica International Festival of Children’s Theatres (Subotica Open University) and the Theatre Museum of Vojvodina from Novi Sad.


(2006 – present)

In 2006 the Festival emerged as a publisher of the first translations of books of great importance for puppetry and theatre arts for children into Serbian language. The Festival, i.e. Subotica Open University has so far published three books by Professor Henryk Jurkowski, PhD, the greatest name in the theory of puppet theatre today: Metamorphoses of Puppet Theatre in the 20th Century, 2006; Theory of Puppetry, 2007; The World of Edward Gordon Craig, 2008; whereas the following books were published in co-operation with the Theatre Museum of Vojvodina from Novi Sad: My Profession (1st and 2nd part) by the great Russian puppeteer Sergey Obraztsov (2009, 2011), The Art of Puppetry Direction by notable Polish artist and theatre theoretician Wiesław Hejno (2012), Theory of Puppetry II by Henryk Jurkowski (2013), Belief In Puppet by the prominent Slovenian puppet theatre director and pedagogue Edi Majaron (2014), Puppet Within Culture and Puppet Within Culture Vol. 2 by Henryk Jurkowski (2015, 2017), as well as To Understand Puppet – Essays on the Search for the Archetype by a distinguished Montenegrin theatre theoretician Siniša Jelušić (2017), and also collections of papers Puppetry in Serbia – Strategies For Improving Its Position (2014), Puppet and Mask in Serbian Culture – From Ritual to Theatre (2014), the collections of papers from the College conferences held 2009-2015 under the title Theatre for Children – Artistic Phenomenon (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017) and a collection of papers A Tribute to Jurkowski in Serbian (2016) and in English (2017). Also, the Festival and the Theatre Museum of Vojvodina have jointly published the photo-monograph of the International Festival of Children’s Theatres – The First 20 Years (2013) and a monograph on the first puppet theatre in Serbia – Puppet Theatre in Novi Sad – Establishment (2014).

Book Promotions

(1994 – present)

The Festival has from the very beginning paid special attention to the written word, and not only to that aimed at children. Works important for theatre arts or drama pedagogy have also been promoted. So, the Festival has organized promotions of the books by the following authors: Henryk Jurkowski, Ljubivoje Ršumović, Branko Milićević Kockica, Tode Nikoletić, Predrag Bjelošević, Luko Paljetak, Rajko Joličić, Milivoje Mlađenović, Mónika Csík, Erika Bartos, Robert Takarics, Judit Berg, Dušica Bojović, Nevena Vitošević Ćeklić, Igor Bojović, Géza Balogh, Boris Goldovsky, Marek Waszkiel, Milan Mađarev, PIF Zagreb, UNIMA, Theatre Museum of Vojvodina (as publishers), as well as many others.

National Puppetry in Focus

(2005 – present)

Since 2005 special attention within the Festival has been paid to puppetry of a chosen country and it has been represented through exhibitions, scientific conferences on the past, present and future of a national puppetry, participation of theatres from a given country in the competitive and non-competitive programme, performances by students of theatre academies on the occasion of the Festival opening, etc. Through this programme, the general public has been able to learn more about puppetry of Bulgaria, Croatia, Russia, Slovakia, Romania, Poland, Serbia, Slovenia and Hungary.


(1994 – present)

Exhibition activity presents an extremely important aspect of the Festival. The exhibitions organized by the Festival are mostly thematically connected to theatre creation for children and puppetry as a branch of theatre arts, but there are also exhibitions aimed to promote other forms of creation for children (eg. fine arts) as well as children’s creation itself. One large-scale and several small-scale exhibitions are opened within each edition and so the total number of the exhibitions opened so far is about fifty. Over the past few years, the large-scale exhibitions have been dedicated to the national puppetry in focus and they have been presented not only in Subotica but also throughout Serbia and within the region (in Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Romania etc).

Special importance for the Festival has the cooperation with the Faculty of Applied Arts from Belgrade (2009 – present), whose students create visual identity solutions for the Festival each year. The chosen poster becomes the official poster of the event, and all works created within this process are exhibited during the Festival.

The poster for the 30th Festival was created by 3rd-year students of the Faculty of Applied Arts, under the mentorship of Professor Boban Savić as part of the Illustration course.

School of Puppetry

(2010 – present)

This project was initiated within the framework of the 17th Festival in Subotica as an encounter of European puppetry schools with the aim to contribute to regular exchange of experiences and novelties between academies in the process of improvement of the future puppet theatre professionals teaching methodology. Participants in the first encounter were: Saint Petersburg State Theatre Arts Academy, Saint Petersburg, Russia; The Academy of Arts in Osijek, Croatia; The Academy of Performing Arts, Bratislava, Slovakia; International Institute of Puppetry, Charleville-Mezieres, France and Faculty of Dramatic Arts, Cetinje, Montenegro. However, having in mind the needs of Serbian puppet and children’s theatres as well as the fact that puppetry as a discipline does not exist at any of the institutions of higher education in Serbia and that other alternative forms of education in this field are rare and unsatisfactory, it has been decided to transform the encounters into a school of puppetry which would, each year during the Festival, encompass workshops and seminars aimed primarily at Serbian artists and students of arts academies. Workshops are taught and lead by foreign puppetry schools teachers. The author of the project is Professor Nikolay Naumov, dean of the Faculty of Puppet Theatre from Saint Petersburg, Russia.

Streets and Squares

(1995 – present)

Is mostly music and dance programme which presents and promotes children’s creation, skills, talents and creativity, but it also encompasses theatre performances suitable to be presented in the open air. Part of this programme is realized in co-operation with Nasa Radost (Our Joy) Pre-school Institution from Subotica, while among other participants there are dance ensembles, soloists, orchestras, choirs, bands and amateur and professional theatre troupes. So far, hundreds of ensembles and thousands of children not only from Subotica but also from other parts of our country as well as from abroad have had the opportunity to show their art in the streets and squares of Subotica.

Festival on Tour

(1995 – present)

One of the main leading ideas of the organizer of the Festival was that „the Festival is not and it should not be the privilege of the children of Subotica alone“ and so it went out of Subotica into surrounding places and even further almost from the very beginning. Thanks to that, a great number of children throughout Serbia and in the Serbian-Hungarian border region have had the opportunity to enjoy the Festival performances and for many of them that was also their first encounter with the theatre. During the past several years, people living in other places have also been able to enjoy the Festival exhibitions.

Special importance for the Festival has the cooperation with the Faculty of Applied Arts from Belgrade (2009 – present), whose students, under the mentorship of Prof. Zdravko Mićanović, create visual identity solutions for the Festival each year. The chosen poster becomes the official poster of the event, and all works created within this process are exhibited during the Festival.

Film Programme

(2000 – present)

From 2000 until 2010, in co-operation with the Yugoslav Film Archive several film cycles for the youngest were screened within the accompanying programme. Among others, the following cycles were shown: Russian Fairy Tales on the Big Screen, Two Centuries of H.C. Andersen, Charlie Chaplin on the Big Screen, Animals as Film Stars and Children as Film Actors. 

Festival Promotions

Wishing to introduce its activities to as many people in the world as possible, the Festival has organized its own promotions in other countries and at other festivals. Festival promotions have so far been organized in Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, Montenegro, Poland, Pakistan, Romania, Russia, Tunisia and Turkey.

European Union Culture Programme 2007-2013

PUPPET NOMAD ACADEMY 3 Project (2012 – 2014)

Led by: Mini teater, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Co-organizers: Eesti Riiklik Nukuteater – Estonian State Puppet Theatre, Estonia; Figuren Theater Vlinders & Co, Belgium; Maladype Theatre, Hungary; Otvoreni Univerzitet Subotica / International Festival of Children’s Theatres, Serbia; Pozorište lutaka Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina; Teatro Neline, Slovakia; Novo Kazalište Zagreb, Croatia

The “Puppet Nomad Academy 3” project represented the continuation of the previous two projects with the same name: “Puppet Nomad Academy” and “Puppet Nomad Academy 2”. This project brought an important new element to the active involvement of the elderly population in the design and creation of performances, participation in workshops, visiting performances… The excellence of the proposed activities was reflected above all in the transfer of new approaches / technologies / good practice which were passed over to the traditional masters of puppetry art. The latter use their fresh creative energy to present their skills and their knowledge through performances to a wider public in different countries – so in the period of Project duration as well as later within post-production lasting 3 to 5 years. The duration of the project: May 1st 2012 until April 30th 2014.

The Project’s events provided unique opportunity for local Slovenian, Croatian, Serbian, Hungarian, Estonian, Slovak, Bosnian, and also Belgian artists, cultural workers, experts in performing and visual arts, yet also for the wider audience, to meet artists from other European and non-European countries in person and to learn about their work and their performances. The result of the project “Puppet Nomad Academy 3” is the upgraded mobility of cultural products, and authors; links among partners are renewed and settled. New ideas which emerged within the Project inspire further projects and co-operation with other similar organizations and projects around Europe.

European Union Culture Programme 2007-2013

THE NOMADS OF BEAUTY Project (2012 – 2013)

Led by: Novo kazalište Zagreb, Croatia
Co-organizers: Eesti Riiklik Nukuteater – Estonian State Puppet Theatre, Estonia; Maladype Theatre, Hungary; Mini Teater, Slovenia; Otvoreni Univerzitet Subotica / International Festival of Children’s Theatres, Serbia; Teatro Neline, Slovakia.

In Croatian contemporary theatre as well as in most countries of the Central and Eastern Europe, stage design and visual creativity have been seriously neglected as theatrical components. Once there were influential schools of theatre design and strong personalities in the field, but after the change of social system the study of stage design has been relegated to the Faculty of Architecture and School of Design. This marked a break between university education and the contemporary practice which requires a complete artist. In this sense the Zagreb New Theatre is unique in the region. The projects of this theatre bring together exceptional visual artists who have significantly contributed to the conceptual and technical development of stage design. Theatre companies which took part in the Nomads of Beauty Project (New Theatre, Mini Theatre, Maladype Theatre, Subotica Open University (International Children’s Theatre Festival) etc. came from smaller European countries (Croatia, Slovenia, Estonia, Hungary, Belgium, Serbia), where very different practices were in use. The idea was to share the exceptional Croatian experience of the visual artists’ work on theatre design with partners, and thus put into action the idea of a nomadic art school. The name Nomads of Beauty was adopted from the historical avant-gardes of the twentieth century. Within the framework of the Project, visual artists from Croatia, Slovenia, Netherlands, Serbia and France created stage design/installation/videos/site specific/light installations. Young artists invited to participate in the creation of the project worked with the leading artist mentors, who were then required to present the end result in all partner theatres.

Hungary–Serbia IPA Cross-Border Cooperation Programme

CULTOUR Project (2010 – 2011)

CulTour is a project which was realized from May 2010 until the end of May 2011 within Hungary-Serbia IPA Cross-border Co-operation Programme (Measure 2.2.2. People to people co-operation). The project lasted thirteen months and encompassed the seventeenth (16-22 May 2010) and the eighteenth (15-21 May 2011) Festival editions of Subotica International Festival of Children’s Theatres and within them the Festival reprise in Szeged, Hungary as well as visiting performances of Bela Kover Puppet Theatre from Szeged in Serbia. Additionally, the project also included Subotica Children’s Theatre visiting performances in Hungary, exhibitions, round tables and puppetry workshops for children and theatre creators. The aim of the project was to facilitate interregional, and even broader, international cultural co-operation in the field of theatre creation for children, enhance the trans-cultural circulation of artworks and interaction between inhabitants of the border region in order to deepen the feeling of collectiveness, enrich the cultural contents and social life and create new opportunities for exchange. The leader of the project was Subotica Open University as executive producer of the International Festival of Children’s Theatres while Bela Kover Puppet Theatre was the partner from the Hungarian side.

Hungary–Serbia IPA Cross-Border Cooperation Programme THEATRO Project (2018 – 2019)

Open University Subotica as the executive producer of the Subotica International Festival of Children’s Theatres and Puppet Theatre Kövér Béla from Szeged (Kövér Béla Bábszínház) as an executive producer of Children’s Theatres Festival in Szeged, are partners in THEATRO project – Theatre Art as a Regional Hub for Children’s Socialization that is realized within Interreg IPA CBC program Hungary – Serbia.THEATRO project focuses on the development of theatre art for children in the cross border region, cooperation of the people from this field of art and enlargement of the theatre and festival audiences by performing four types of activities: 1. Exchange of festival programs, 2. Creation and promotion of an exhibition focused on the cultural heritage of the cross border region in the field of theatre art for children, 3. Education aimed for children, composed of puppet workshop, puppeteer camp for children, their own production of the theatre performance and its presentation at the festivals and 4. Creation of a web platform that presents cultural heritage in the field of puppetry and theatre art for children in the cross border region in an innovative and interactive way.25th Subotica International Festival of Children’s Theatres will present 5 theatre performances from Szeged Kövér Béla Puppet Theatre repertoire, while in the Festival Reprise Program, 5 performances from 25th Subotica International Festival of Children’s Theatres program will be presented in Szeged.Another important project activity within 25th Subotica International Festival of Children’s Theatres is Travelling Puppet Exhibition which will be presented first in Szeged and Kecskemét and then in Subotica, Zrenjanin and Novi Sad. The exhibition is composed of puppet choice from five theatres in the cross border region (Subotica, Zrenjanin, Novi Sad, Szeged and Kecskemét), aiming to promote common cultural heritage and cultural connections in the region.25th Subotica International Festival of Children’s Theatres will also realize Puppetry Camp for Puppetry Workshop attendees from Subotica and Szeged. Puppetry Camp will gather 40 children from cross border region who attended Puppetry Workshop in Subotica and Szeged from May to June. The purpose of the four-day camp is to upgrade the children’s knowledge in the field of puppetry and theatre art for children, to make the children of the region get to know each other and cooperate in further projects after the Workshop, in preparation of two theatre performances for children.

Subotica International Festival of Children's Theatres