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While working on the selection of plays from the region to be presented at the upcoming ASSITEJ Artistic Gathering 2023 (Serbia), we saw more than 80 plays. The submitted plays responded in various degrees to the basic theme of the AAG 2023, which concerns sustainability and the use of new technologies in TYA. Apart from the relevance to the theme of the AAG 2023, an additional criterion in our selection was the general quality of the performances, as well as the mutual diversity of approaches. Accordingly, our selection included a total of eight plays from six countries.

Forest of Songs (Slovenia) is a musical puppet show whose entire design, from puppets to instruments to scenography, is based on the use of natural materials. In this unique environment the director, in cooperation with the performers, creates just as unique an experience of the world of the forest and its inhabitants, building it primarily through precisely orchestrated sound stimuli.

Screenagers Vol.2 (Croatia / France) is a play that relies on new technologies and music both in the incorporation of content and in the approach to visual identity. The play uses innovative tools that shape our artistic experiences and addresses young audiences in a language they are exposed to in some other contexts, while inviting them to be co-authors of the play in its real time length.

Tunnel (Slovenia) explores the important theme of fear (of the dark) by gradating means from the simplest (which children can literally “try at home”) to sophisticated technologies, which however, never prevail over the harmonious and masterful performance of the young acting ensemble.

Why Don’t They Care About Earth (Bosnia and Herzegovina) tells the story of the escape of animals from the North Pole due to the melting glacier caused by climate change. While dealing with the environmental theme, this play has a good way of making the audience its allies in the fight for a fairer world.

Sound Bird (Hungary) is a puppet show that uses sounds and music, and with the help of audio-visual technologies, to involve children in a very simple and unobtrusive way, in its story about relationships in nature and how sounds are created in general.

Leche the Baby Bug (Bulgaria) is a puppet show that uses a traditional approach to puppetry, and its visual identity relies on the use of natural materials taken directly from nature, i.e. puppets and decor are made of pine cones and twigs.

Schnaufen (Austria) is a dance and non-verbal performance that deals with the theme of loneliness and rediscovery of the importance of community and coexistence, which is especially complex and interesting in the period during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Apart from the fact that dance performances for young audiences are rare, another element of this performance worthy of attention is its specific visual identity.

Anđelka Nikolić, theatre director, Co-founder of the Art Group Hop.La!, founder of the Rural Cultural Centre Markovac, member of ASSITEJ Serbia EC from 2017 to 2021

Tijana Grumić, playwright, Assistant Professor at the Dramaturgy Department of the Faculty of Dramatic Arts in Belgrade, Co-founder of the regional platform From the First Step

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