The Psychology of Closed and Isolated Micro-worlds, 2006

The Thirteenth International Small-Scene Theatre Festival will host twelve shows from eight European countries. For the first time theatres from Germany and the Czech Republic will officially be competing for prizes, while the audiences will have another opportunity of seeing representative achievements of Russian and Bulgarian theatres, as well as a selection of the best shows from the countries of former Yugoslavia. This year, as in the years before, we have also wished to unite first-class mainstream drama and open, experimental theatre, therefore inviting shows of different poetics, styles, and genres. All the shows are, however, thematically connected; they examine and delve into the psychology of small, closed and isolated, worlds. It is, nevertheless, important to mention that we by no means have in mind “closed culture systems” belonging to a “cultural otherness” which anthropology has tried to offer as an inspiring idea for theatrical experimentation (and has succeeded in doing so), but rather mummified and autistic microcosms in which the traumatic experiences of individuals detached from or unadjusted to the masses and “global processes” can be perceived in a more suitable and lucid way. We, thus, contemplate the pathology of micro-worlds, and our shows explore that pathology through a variety of means and ways, beginning from the tightest concentric circle of isolation within one’s own, inner, universe (Kaspar, Next Door To…, The Frog, Helver’s Night, Mary Stewart, The Locusts/ and the physical isolation of whole families or social groups (Rothschild’s Fiddle, Hamlet in Mrduša Donja, Sclavi, Crime on Goat Island, The House of Bernarda Alba), to experimental isolation (The Hallway).

A variety of numerous and interesting questions that those shows provoke, are related to some of the basic problems of contemporary human relationships; to problems that, viewed from our alluring “global home”, we become aware of only when they expand to their extremes. One of the most dominant problems is certainly that of manipulating human individuality and consciousness, as we shall see – an idea generated in various “centres of authority”, from political bosses in power and self-proclaimed guardians of social norms, to the aggressive media and the traditional heritage of the head of the family, the chief of a tribe or a broader community. In approximately one half of the selected shows, the atmosphere of our microcosms is reflected through a combination of verbal and nonverbal scenic language; through an organic union of physical, dramatic, and dance theatre, as well as of the theatre of mime and music, which is one of the distinctions of this year’s festival. Another of the Festival’s distinctive characteristics is connected to the relationship of the selected shows to the name of the Festival itself.

The small scene – a claustrophobic and confined acting area, in this thematic context bears symbolic and metaphoric importance, and in a specific manner it becomes significant even in the two or three shows that seemingly do not physically correspond to the idea of chamber theatre. In those shows the “spaciousness” of the stage only anticipates freedom and spontaneity, while the space of acting/life is, as in the other plays, constricted to a rather small “quadrature of the circle”; an esoteric figure of speech that could stand as an emblem of this year’s festival.
Hrvoje Ivanković