Sterijino Pozorje Theatre Festival was founded on this day, 29 March, 1956, in order to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth and 100th anniversary of the death of the great Serbian comedy writer Jovan Sterija Popović. The international theatre festival of national drama and competitive theatre is held every year in Novi Sad. In anticipation of the 68th festival in a row, which will gather excellent artists and theatre art lovers, we bring you a story about the history of Sterijino Pozorje, as well as the programme in the oldest Serbian theatre that we will follow from 26 May to 3 June.
Sterijino Pozorje is one of the most significant cultural events in the country, and the idea of its founding came from prominent Novi Sad intellectuals. It was accepted at the time in all cultural and theatre centres of the former country. Until today, Sterijino Pozorje has continued the tradition of implementing a festival in which theatres from the country and abroad participate with performances based on texts by Yugoslav writers. The official name of the event was the Yugoslav Theatre Festival, but soon the name was changed to the Sterijino Pozorje.
Novi Sad as the Cradle of Theatre
In defining the programme and status of Sterijino Pozorje, the most outstanding personalities of the society, culture and art of that time took part. There were Ivo Andrić, Milan Bogdanović, Milan Dedinac, Miloš Hadžić, Eli Finci, Veljko Petrović, Bojan Stupica, Velibor Gligorijević, Radomir Radujkov, etc. The programme goals were clearly articulated: to improve theatre art and stimulate the development of drama literature through a permanent festival of national drama.
The first editions of the festival were modest, but they expanded over time and today the festival gathers professional theatres and ensembles from the country and the region. Over the years, Sterijino Pozorje has become a synonym for the presentation of contemporary theatre productions.
The repertoire of Sterijino Pozorje is based on a selection, which is chosen by a three-member selection team, headed by the artistic director. The festival programme includes two selections, and a five-member jury decides on Sterija Awards for artistic achievements. The awards are: the best play, text of a contemporary drama, dramatization, adaptation, direction, set design, costume, stage music and acting achievements. In addition to these, there is an award for newspaper theatre criticism and Sterija Award from Scena magazine for theatre studies.
Thanks to the festival, Novi Sad has found itself on the world cultural map and has become an indispensable destination for all theatre lovers.
68th Sterijino Pozorje
This year, Sterijino Pozorje brings us as many as eight plays that will compete for the famous Sterija Award.
The competitive selection includes an opera in 17 songs to the music by Irena Popović, entitled Children, based on the novel by Milena Marković, directed by Irena Popović, and performed by the Belgrade National Theatre. The second play in the repertoire is Miss, written by Ivo Andrić, dramatized by Vanja Ejdus, directed by Đurđa Tešić, and performed by the National Theatre of the Republic of Srpska from Banja Luka.
Darko Cvijetić’s work, directed by Kokan Mladenović, Što Na Podu Spavaš, which is implemented thanks to the cooperation of four cultural institutions: the Serbian National Theatre, the City Drama Theatre Gavela from Zagreb, the National Theatre from Sarajevo and MESS Sarajevo, is also in the race for the prize.
Noćna Frajla by the National Theatre in Niš, directed by Branislav Mićunović, will be in the selection of selected plays, as well as Nušić’s The Deceased, directed by Egon Savin and the Montenegrin National Theatre from Podgorica. Lullaby for Aleksija Rajčić, by the writer Đorđe Kosić, is the sixth play in this selection. It is directed by Jug Đorđević and performed by the Belgrade National Theatre in cooperation with the ‘Novi Sad – European Capital of Culture’ Foundation.
The Belgrade Drama Theatre will present the Yankee Rose play, directed by Miloš Lolić, while the 52 Hz play, written by Tijana Grumić, directed by Mojca Madon, will be performed by the Slovenian National Theatre Nova Gorica.
Finally, let us remember that the European Capital of Culture title year began with the celebration of the character and work of the mathematician with a genius mind, Mileva Marić Einstein, whose scientific work but also life full of limitations served as inspiration for the Mileva play, directed by the multiple award-winning Croatian director Anica Tomić, which opened the 67th Sterijino Pozorje in Novi Sad.
The ECoC programme continued to symbolically follow the importance of her brilliant mind, thus the title year was successfully completed with the opening of a multimedia exhibition Mileva: We Are One Rock , which you can see in the City Museum of Novi Sad at the Petrovaradin Fortress until the end of the year.
Author: Marina Marić
Photo: Vladimir Veličković, Marija Erdelji/ The Serbian National Theatre