A Guide to the 11th Lutkokaz: The Highlights of the Academy of Arts and Culture in Osijek and Contemporary Puppetry in Croatia

18 03 2021

"Caffe Kingdom", Photo: Zadar Puppet Theatre

Igor Tretinjak

The 11th International Puppetry Revue – Lutkokaz, organized by the Academy of Arts and Culture in Osijek, will be held from March 22 to 26, April 26 to 30 and from May 24 to 28 on the EU Contemporary Puppetry Critical Platform. The Osijek Academy initiated Lutkokaz in 2010 with the aim to create a space where spectators could be introduced to the exam productions of Osijek students of puppetry. Soon the revue outgrew itself and expanded into interesting and valuable co-productions and collaborations, especially with the Bratislava Academy, but it also expanded into Croatian and international guest appearances, bringing some of the best European performances to Osijek, such as “Duck, Death and the Tulip” by Lutkovno gledališče Ljubljana (Ljubljana Puppet Theatre). Apart from performances, Lutkokaz also nurtures the educational aspect of the revue within which it hosts internationally renowned puppeteers and puppet pedagogues who hold workshops for students from Osijek.

This year’s Lutkokaz differs in many ways from the previous ones, especially in its duration and the virtual environment in which it takes place. The reasons lie in the unfavourable health situation we are all familiar with, but also in another extremely important fact. This year’s Lutkokaz will be held as a part of a large project of Creative Europe – EU Contemporary Puppetry Critical Platform in which the Osijek Academy participates as a partner of Lutkovno gledališče Ljubljanja (the project leader), Lithuanian Theatre Lele from Vilnius and Puppet Animation Scotland from Edinburgh. The focal point of the project is to point out the importance and potential of contemporary puppetry and the development of puppetry criticism through the education of future critics and opening of media space to criticism.

This year’s Lutkokaz, as an integral part of the project, is focused on a contemporary puppetry expression, the major bastion of which in Croatia is the Academy of Arts and Culture in Osijek. Therefore, the artistic director of this year’s revue Igor Tretinjak outlined a programme with an emphasis on film adaptations of the best performances by students from Osijek enriched with several extremely interesting guest performances – from the classics to contemporary puppetry Djevin skok ili proljeće u slijepoj ulici (Maiden’s Jump or Spring in Dead End) to the premiere of a new performance by Lutkovno gledališče Ljubljana, Pješčanik (Sandpit). Given the fact that this year’s revue takes place in two dimensions, the programme will be enriched by films created by students from Osijek.

Lutkovno gledališče Ljubljana, Pijesak, Autor: Jaka VarmužAmong the visual aspects of the revue we also single out two truly interesting exhibitions by students from Osijek - Look, Puppet! and The Face Behind the Puppet.

Lutkokaz will contribute to the second part of the project – theatre criticism – with a certain number of lectures, workshops and interviews. Kruna Tarle, the author of Djevin skok (Maiden's Jump), will give a lecture in the first module; Zoran Petrovič, a Slovenian puppeteer, will give a lecture and hold a workshop on theatre with and in new media in the second module, and in the third module a theatre critic, Anđela Vidović, will hold a workshop on criticism in today's circumstances.

Finally, let us add that this is the second Creative Europe project brought to Osijek and Croatia by the Academy of Arts and Culture on the wings of puppetry.   

First part, 22-26 March

Monday 22 March, 19:30 (Croatian Time)
Grand Opening of 11th Lutkokaz - virtual

Monday 22 March, 20h
Gllugl, Rainbow
Graduation Exam in animation at the Academy of Arts and Culture in Osijek
About the show: A village surrounded by stone and rubble. Humidity prevails and drops of sweat pour down faces. The river Glibuša is not enough to cool hotheads and move firm attitudes. A child wishes to be free. She wants to climb a tree, to swim across Glibuša, to ride a horse, to fight with boys. All she hears is scolding: “You are not a boy. You are not allowed to run, you will fall and disfigure your face. Boys are allowed to eat as much as they want but you have to be thin and slender…“ This is a puppet show about remorse, forgiveness and the desire for freedom. The question is whether stone cold characters, born among stone and carved into stone can experience freedom.
Age: 12+
Duration: 50 minutes
Tuesday, 23 March, 20h

"Maiden's Jump or Spring in Dead End", Photo: Sandra Vitaljić

Tuesday, 23 March, 20h
Zagreb Youth Theatre, Fasade, Maiden's Jump or Spring in Dead End
About the show: Non-verbal visual fantasy inspired by the character of the deaf-mute Croatian painter Slava Raškaj (1877-1906).
Age: 12+
Duration: 40 min

Wednesday, 24 March, 20h
City Theatre Požega, In Search of a Diamond Tear
About the show: Slaven, a fully-fledged Slavonian bachelor, asks the village witch Baba Yaga for help after finding out that his friend Janko is sick. Baba Yaga is unable to heal Janko so she sends Slaven to her distant cousin, sensei Ching Chang Chong. The sensei living in faraway Asia knows the ancient secret of the dragon Hiroshaki and his healing tears. On their way to the dragon, Slaven and the sensei go through various trials such as meeting Ching Chang Chong’s evil student Chang Chong Ching and the singing elves. Will they be able to get the dragon’s tears and save Janko? Find out in this dangerously funny and intense Slavonian kung fu screen comedy. The music is performed live on four instruments throughout the performance.
Age: 9+
Duration: 30 minutes

Thursday, 25 March, 20h
Academy of Arts and Culture in Osijek
, Student film miniatures
Petra Mađarić, My Favourite Thing, 1 minute
Anamarija Maršić, The Chase, 1 minute
Ivana Bašić, My Favourite Thing, 5 minutes
Anamarija Maršić, When Hairdressers and Bakers Become One, 1 minute
Petra Mađarić, Dawn and Dusk, 1 minute
Age: 12+
Duration: 10 minutes

Friday, 26 March, 20h
Zadar Puppet Theatre, Caffe Kingdom

About the show: Through a combination of theatre acting and object theater, the puppet show Caffe Kingdom thematizes the relationship between a parent and a child from the perspective of Princess who, despite her parents’ wishes, wants to become a waitress more than anything else in the world.
Age: 10+
Duration: 45 minutes
Note: All the shows and films are free and will be available to the viewers for seven days from the premiere performance.

Look, Puppet!
Exhibition of puppet-installations of students of the Department of Creative Technologies of the Academy of Arts and Culture in Osijek under the mentorship of Dr. Ria Trdin, Associate Professor of Arts.
About the Exhibition: Puppet-installations were made of used materials and objects, and the task was for students to look for inspiration in the material, its shape, patina and wear, and to shape materials into a recognizable character, anthropomorphic or animal, with minimal modifications. The exhibition was created in collaboration with the Asser Savus Art Organization.
Duration: 22 March – 26 April

Wednesday, 24 and Thursday, 25 March, 11-12AM
Kruna Tarle, Image Theatre
Note: For participants of the theatre criticism workshop within the project “Critical Platform of Contemporary EU Puppetry”

Second Part, 26-30 April

Gllugl, "Samoizolacija u 40 minuta", Izvor: Akademija za umjetnost i kulturu u OsijekuMonday, 26 April, 20h
Gllugl, Self-isolation in 40 Minutes
Final exam in animation by Jura Ruža at the Academy of Arts and Culture in Osijek
About the show: What is the ideal time to go to the supermarket to avoid crowds? For how long is it safe to stay there? How do we enter our own apartments without getting the floor dirty? How to remove clothes without much skin contact? How to remove potential germs from your body? How to put on new clothes safely? How to sort groceries on the table? How to sneeze? How to wash hands? For how long? Why? How to live when the two extremes finally collide? How to survive when both sides refuse to give in? Does the need for control overpower the need for chaos? Or vice versa?
Age: 15 +
Duration: 40 minuta

Wednesday, 28 April, 20h
Academy of Arts and Culture in Osijek, Soul of Drava, film
The film was created as part of the course called Visual and Group Devised Theatre in the Form of Shadow Theatre
About the film: It is a poetic film story shaped in the form of a shadow theatre about Man and his irresponsible attitude towards Nature. The personal attitude of the students towards the general pollution is embodied in the character of the girl Drava who is the only one in contact with the primary element of Water. She feels it like an inner voice that drives her in search of the Great Water that has long been littered with garbage. Only the purity of Drava’s heart, her perseverance and courage can free the Great Water from under the layers of garbage and help it to flow again and purify the Earth.
Age: 4+
Duration: 17 minutes

Friday, 30 April, 20h
Academy of Arts and Culture in Osijek, Marriage, Out of Hand
Final exam in animation by Toni Leaković at the Academy of Arts and Culture in Osijek
About the show: A story about love and quarrel, of stubbornness and compromise, of the hardships and joy of marriage told with the use of hands. Left and right, seemingly independent of one another, can only achieve their full potential when working together.
Age: 13+
Duration: 35 minutes
Note: all the shows and films are free and will be available to the viewers for seven days from the premiere performance.

The Face behind the Puppet
Exhibition of students of the Department of Creative Technologies at the Academy of Arts and Culture in Osijek according to the concept of Dr. Saša Došen, Associate Professor of Arts
About the exhibition: In addition to the works created as part of the lectures, which include puppets, masks and props, the exhibition presents their authors, students of the Department of Creative Technologies. The authors of the visual art part of puppet theatre are the creators of the first experience of the magic of puppetry, which is first and foremost something to watch. But the authors themselves most often remain hidden from the audience’s view. The exhibition Faces behind the Puppets presents portrait photographs of young artists, their thoughts on puppets and theatre (often on life and man himself) and the materialization of these ideas. On this occasion, instead of boards, dolls, masks and props, we will lean on the clear view and thoughts of their creators.
Duration: 26 April – 28 May

Zoran Petrovič, Theatre as Media and Media in Theatre
Note: For participants of the theatre criticism workshop within the project “Critical Platform of Contemporary EU Puppetry”

Third part, 24-28 May

Monday, 24 May, 20h
Lutkovno gledališče Ljubljana, Sand Pit
About the Show: Four strangers walk in the vast field of opportunities. They use an analogue playground to build a fragile and fugitive world. The tiny grains of sand turn into the universe, time, beings, landscapes, natural phenomena, mood, relationships, architecture, and objects. The grains of sand are conceived, deposited, blown, swept, trampled, outlined, inscribed, drawn, decanted, poured, sown, erased, rolled, gathered, removed, added, taken away, carried away, augmented... but the sand pit is not merely a place of creation—it is a place of socialising, as the four strangers are brought together by their joint game, while the relationships between them make them diverse and identifiable.
Age: 5+
Duration: 50 minuta

Tuesday, 25 May, 20h
AUK, If I'm Gone
About the show: Somewhere at the end of the world, and perhaps even further, there is one forest. In that forest, two friends, Bear and Hedgehog, sat on swings every night and watched the sky. It was the same that night. It seemed that the two of them would again watch the stars fall together and make wishes. But... Hedgehog was strangely quiet that night. From that, it could be guessed that this evening would be different. That this very evening Hedgehog would ask a question that would change their lives forever…
Age: 12+
Duration: 45 minutes

Thursday, 26 May, 20h
Academy of Arts and Culture in Osijek, Hymn to the Absurd in Relation to the Melancholy Present - Diary of an Anarchist and Nihilist Academic Group – film
Exam material of the 1st and 2nd year graduate students of puppet animation from the course Puppetry Master Workshop: From Text to Staging
About the film: The inspirational impetus for the film is drawn from the literary opus of the Russian writer Daniil Harms, whose absurdity is recognized in the present world. The authors and performers decided to take the theatre to the streets, interact with people and connect it inclusively with film media. Puppetry principles in framing, relationship with objects and character creation enabled them to create a guerrilla troupe whose absurdity reveals the strangeness of the ordinary.
Age: 9+Duration: 60 minutes

Gllugl, "Pekel na zemli", Izvor: Akadenija za umjetnost i kulturu u OsijekuFriday, 28 May, 20h
Gllugl, Hell on Earth
Final exam in animation by Filip Eldan, Nikša Eldan and Nino Pavleković at the Academy of Arts and Culture in Osijek
About the Show: Hell on Earth by Denis Peričić is written in the tradition of the mystery play, which are an important part of Croatian literary and theatrical history. This play portrays the strange, unexplainable and hellish events which portend the coming of Judgment Day, as well as the faith of the protagonist, vicar Mihalj Mendušić, and his battle against the forces of Hell“ (Borna Baletić, in the explanation of the „Marin Držić“ Award Committee). Three students of acting and puppetry have staged this text as a puppetry play in which the set, costumes and props are replaced by the actor’s instrument: the body. It is exactly for this reason that this play uses the animation of body parts in various theatric forms such as black theatre and shadow theatre.
Age: 14+
Duration: 35 minutes

Note: all the shows and films are free and will be available to the viewers for seven days from the premiere performance.

Anđela Vidović, Why Write in the Change of Air
Note: For participants of the theatre criticism workshop within the project “Critical Platform of Contemporary EU Puppetry”

Round Table:
Moderator Igor Tretinjak