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


28 september 2022

A cartoon, or whatever is older

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A cartoon, or whatever is older


I'm sorry I can't say more about the plays Love and the Violin by I. I. Rom-Lebedev, directed by Anna Vovchok, Children's Theater Subotica, and Princess Rose and the Enchanted Eagle by Argiro Tamvakou, Panayiotis Lambis, directed by Panagiotis Adam, Tik Tak Nto Theatre Company from Greece. These two productions, as written in the catalog, represent the work of a puppeteer student from St. Petersburg, inspired by Romani music and a fairy-tale musical-stage story about forbidden love combining acting and masks.

But I can say something about the three plays seen among the last ones at the 29 th International Children's Theater Festival Subotica - BROOM… BRMM… BRMM…, "Paper Stories" and "Through Thorns to the Stars" - represent a kind of block of plays in which the dominant aesthetic figure is - cartoon. Yes, it would be more accurate to say that puppet theater is an art that could only inspire cartoons, historically a much later phenomenon, but soon it will be even later what I wanted to say.

BROOM… BRMM… BRMM… by Angela Dwicahya and Rizki Putri, Bon Puppet Theater from Indonesia, is the story of a grizzled old man who would like everything to be dark, but one small, clumsy broom doesn’t leave him alone. Two actors lead the bunraki puppet, not from the shadow, but in the light, so you could really see how, despite their presence, they managed to create a living character of an old uncle, who would clean up the veranda covered with dry leaves and enjoy a meal in peace, but whenever he goes inside the house, the broom goes berserk and, carried away by mischief, spoils his work.

It was a special treat to watch the animator bring to life a real object - a broom, not a puppet, and I also paid attention to a technique in this play, which was rarely seen at the Festival - ventriloquism. I have to admit that the design of the puppet's grandfather's face reminded me on Freddy Krueger, and the animation of the broom on some terrible psychedelic witch, but all of that could be ignored once you surrender to the experience that the show communicates on the level of very young children, almost babies.

Up and Down Story by Maria Nemirovsky, directed by Andrei Urbakh, Theater Koom - koom from Israel, is a play that showed the indestructibility of children's dreams. A boy constantly dreams of the stars and the moon, and that way he tolerates and a little bit avoids the obligations that are beginning to overtake him - school, peers, parents, sports training, the piano lessons... Be that as it may, he does not give up and in the end he manages to transport them all to space.

The play was primarily created for preschoolers, it is a combination of acting expressive play, with non- mushy speech - sounds articulated in such a way that by intonation and body gestures, facial expressions of the actors, the audience has no doubt what it is about, and the real treat is one of the modifications of rod-driven puppets, the boy puppet, which showed how uniform and static facial expressions can be brought to life. In other words, the old saying that the theater is in the minds of the spectators had been confirmed.

Paper Stories by Ivan-Aleksander Doichev, Hristo Petev, Velizar Evtimov, Theatre Corsair Foundation from Bulgaria, is a very original play, which would be even better if the authors and performers did not try to show us everything, as they say.

With many references to art already from the domain of popular culture (2001: A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick, the paintings The Scream by Eduard Munch), the story begins with the creation of everything, the banishment from paradise, the transition to the other world in the form of an ancient love drama, to a small human story, under a tree, perhaps of the same station, from the Garden of Eden, according to the tradition of Western culture. Authors and actors skillfully developed the complexity of the procedure, so they went from two-dimensional puppets on cardboard - drawings, through scissors and crumpled hand puppets made of paper, flat in the shadow theater segment, to more complex, stick- guided modified puppets in the form of human figures. Thus, at the same time with the human history, a kind of overview of the history of puppetry was also shown.

A Little Match Girl based on the famous fairy tale by H. K. Andersen, in the dramaturgical adaptation of Mina Petrić and Sonja Petrović, who also directed the play at the Youth Theatre, is a rare example of a play for children and youth with a socially engaged basis, as they say. So, the topic is not a fairy tale, but reality - poor children, most often without any care, and often exploited by guardians - sent to the street to beg for few dinars, without even a crust of bread, or a match to warm themselves.

Playwright Mina Petrić and director Sonja Petrović used fragments of the book "Say Hello to Someone" by Vesna Ognjenović and Budimir Nešić, with authentic experiences of residents of the Center for Social Work and Shelter for Children and Youth in Novi Sad, in creating a credible story. A Little Match Girl was created as a result of the cooperation of the Youth Theater with the Festival of Ecological Theater for Children and Youth and the Association "Freedom Has No Price". Lawyer Dobrila Marković and psychologist Jelena Sokić were involved in the process of creating the play, which is also to be commended for its responsibility towards the topic and its social importance. Perhaps the best illustration of how successful the play was in terms of performance is that it won one of the awards at the Subotica Children's Theater Festival. And not just any one, but the Award for the Best Performance assigned by Young Jury.

Igor Burić

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Subotica International Festival of Children's Theatres