Theatre makers, future and present, young and old, experts and beginners gathered around at the SCEN Centre For Scene Design, Faculty of Technical Sciences in Novi Sad to share experiences on the topic ‘Scene Design & New Technologies in TYA’ (theatre for children and young people).
At the beginning hosts of the conference Nikola Zavišić, director, writer and founder of the ‘Radio.Nica’ artistic group and Sanja Maljković, professor, architect and scene designer and general manager of the independent theatre ‘Le Studio’, explained the urgent need to discuss new developments, prospects, and challenges in this field. “New technologies are being introduced in theatre and performing arts for children and young people as innovative ways to tell stories and engage audiences,” said the hosts. Nikola Zavišić added “guerilla way of thinking always moved things further. The biggest steps in theatre were never made in institutes. That is why bold theatre makers, the ones doing things from the heart, knowledge, and love will be speakers today.”
After the opening, and a greeting from Diana Kržanić Tepavac, president of ASSITEJ Serbia, we were introduced to the topic ‘On Tenderness, Responsibility and Dreams: the Republic of Serbia at the Prague Quadrennial 2023’ by Andrija Dinulović, Assistant Professor and Project Director, and Aleksandra Pešterac, Associate Professor who gave an overview of the Students’ Exhibition from the Faculty of Science. The special focus was on projects ‘Moonshine Piano’ and ‘Daydreaming’. This year, the project ‘Moonshine Piano’ received the award for the most imaginative concept of a student exhibition and community activation at the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space, while ‘Daydreaming’ was awarded for the most imaginative concept.
The next presentation was ‘(Not Only) New Technologies in (Not Only) Children’s Theatre’ by theatre maker Linea Happonen from Finland. Her point of view on the topic of New Technologies is: “limits of technology bring new possibilities.”And Linea theatre is a place where everything is possible. “Can you dance on a cup? Yes! Can you move the marionette while being in the air? Yes! Can pages from the book fly, can mushroom breed on a stage and then leave it, can you ride a bike upside down in the air? Yes! Yes! Yes! I also did not know at first whether it is manageable or not, but it turns out that it is somehow always possible.” Then she enthusiastically concluded: “If you treat technology like a stage partner, everything is can be achieved!”
The last presentation for the morning session entitled ‘Live Theatre via the World Wide Web’ was held by Thaddeus Philips, theatre creator and innovator from Colorado and Christian Arin, Artistic Director and Actor from ‘TEATERI Theatre’, from Sweden. They worked together on a play called ‘ZOO MOVIE’ where they combined theatre and cinematography. “From your seat in the audience you see how it’s happening while it’s happening,” said Thaddeus. One of the biggest traps of their approach and generally, a huge obstacle when introducing technology in theatre is that technology can overcome the story. “When we are experimenting, like in the ‘ZOO MOVIE’, filming while playing, and projecting video at the same time, we keep the story simple,” explained Christian.
As a whole, the talks were inspiring experiences and examples of how new technology can be used. It sparked long discussions and exchanges of ideas. Nikola Zavišić concluded, “theatre makers are really makers of magic.”
Divna Stojanov is a dramaturg and playwright. She also writes theatre reviews.