Thanks to Placements, support to the theatre at home

*Although Next Generation Placements programme primarily involves international exchange, two young artists from Serbia happen to have received the invitations to become observers at The 46th Meeting of Professional Puppet Theatre of Serbia from Puppet Theatre in Niš. This interesting twist came, on one hand, as the result of an immense interest expressed by the playwright Jelena Paligorić to see the annual puppet theatres’ programmes in Serbia, and her decision to write and publish the reviews in the printed media. Given the fact that virtually the only periodical which publishes reviews and critiques on puppet theatre in Serbia is the puppet theatre journal Threads (Niti), one young author who wishes to write about these performances represents an enormous support for this branch of theatre art.

On the other hand, Sandra Nikač, a young artist who has just obtained her MA in Puppetry in the UK, has in her application expressed her wish to practice her profession in Serbia and in the region, which, in these times of brain drain, is a real rarity. These young artists’ applications, their strong will to participate in the development of puppetry in Serbia could not be neglected. Here is what one of them says about the experience.

 

Inclusion Through Learning and Working   

by Sandra Nikač

I have spent the first four days of December attending the 46th Meeting of Professional Puppet Theatre of Serbia as an observer, within the Next Generation Placements Program.

Thanks to ASSITEJ Serbia and Puppet Theatre Nis, two young people, artists with an interest in children’s or puppet theatre (the two art forms often almost marginalised) have been given an opportunity to attend this festival. This year those were the playwright Jelena Paligoric and I.

The Meeting in a way represents a layout of the best shows Serbian (puppet) theatres have to offer at the moment. The theatres themselves select the plays from the previous season, which are going to be performed at the festival and compete for different prizes. There were eight shows in the official selection, and they come from all seven professional puppet theatres in Serbia, from six different cities (Subotica, Zrenjanin, Novi Sad, Belgrade, Kragujevac and Nis). There were another three productions in the accompanying programme, from Serbia, Croatia and Bulgaria.

Also in the accompanying programme was a lecture held by the director Darko Kovacovski, which focused on different types of puppets and their characteristics (construction, movement and otherwise). On the first day of the festival the exhibition Wizards from Nis was opened to the public. There were posters, photographs, costumes, masks and of course puppets from various productions form different periods of Puppet Theatre Nis’ history. It was very interesting to encounter these puppets outside their original context – as a part of a show. This is where we can begin to see all the influences, trends, and we can finally begin to analyze, from a broader perspective, the aesthetics.

This was a great opportunity for me to see different theatres’ productions in one place; otherwise, it would have been a lot more complicated. Also, in the past couple of years, since I’ve been studying abroad, I’ve been more in touch with what’s going on in puppetry internationally, especially in the UK. So, this was a fantastic way to get acquainted with contemporary Serbian puppetry, especially from a point of view of someone who is looking to develop as a professional puppet designer and maker right here, in Serbia.

The festival was also a great opportunity for networking, and from that a new collaboration developed: I’ve written an article about The Meeting which is going to be published by the end of the year in the magazine Threads, the only publication that specialises in puppetry.

Being part of the round-table discussion at the end of the festival was another significant involvement for me. I spoke about my experiences from studying abroad, and about possible ways of implementing the benefits into local current practices. The very creation of this kind of space, for young people to participate and not only to observe, is the very example of what I think is the most rewarding about NGP – inclusion through learning and working.

 

 

Thank you ASSITEJ Serbia, and Puppet Theatre Nis.