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Theatre Journal 52.2 (2000) 276-278

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Performance Review

13Th Annual Eurokaz Festival Of International Theatre

5Th Annual PUF International Theatre Festival

13Th Annual Eurokaz Festival Of International Theatre. Zagreb, Croatia. 23-30 June 1999.

5Th Annual PUFInternational Theatre Festival. Pula, Croatia. 2-6 July 1999.

This past summer, the small Republic of Croatia hosted its two annual festivals of international theatre, EUROKAZ and PUF. EUROKAZ is held at the end of June in Zagreb, Croatia's capital city and was founded in 1987 by Gordana Vnuk (who still serves as festival organizer) as the cultural contribution to a student sport festival. As one of the city's international summer festivals, EUROKAZ receives a good deal of government funding, heavy publicity, and very close scrutiny by theatre critics from inside and outside Croatia. This year's eleven participants included the local Zagreb company Teatar & TD, the Chicago-based performance group Goat Island, Tambours de Brazza from the Congo, the popular Italian troupe Fanny and Alexander, and Theater L&O Amsterdam from the Netherlands.

PUF, on the other hand, makes its home in Pula, a coastal city on the Istrian peninsula. The festival was founded in 1995 by four Croatian student theatre groups. The organizers of the four groups--Branko Susac, of D.R. INAT (Pula), Davo Mojas of LERO (Dubrovnik), Nebojsa Berojevic of Daska (Sisak), and Romano Bogdan of Pinklec (Karlovac)--wanted to provide their students with a place to test their abilities against professional international performers, since they were prohibited from competing in festivals with major Croatian theatre companies. In addition to performances by INAT, Daska, and LERO, PUF also included the Polish satirical group Theatre Cinema, the Slovenian dance quartet Gledalisce Glej, Sweden's Su-en Butoh Company, and Austrian performance artist Sabine Sonnenschein.

The physical organization of the festivals also differed. While EUROKAZ utilized theatre spaces throughout Zagreb, PUF's offerings were concentrated at the Istrian National Theater. The one exception to PUF's format was INAT's Masque of the Red Death, a dance/movement meditation on Poe's story, which was performed outdoors in the courtyard of the old Jugoslav army headquarters in Pula. This cluster of tall buildings, which contains its own restless spirits, was a fitting choice for this piece. On a platform framed by wisps of gauze fluttering in the light breeze, the young cast physically embodied the fear, lust, compassion, and vengeance incited by the manipulations of lead performer S+andor Slacki (a veteran actor and INAT's most famous graduate). As with all the student groups, INAT's level of concentration, innovation and technical proficiency was quite amazing, and the surrounding milieu made the performance one of the most powerful of both festivals.

While the focus of EUROKAZ is certainly more international than PUF, both festivals included performances from inside and outside Croatia, as well as a group comprised of both Croatian and foreign performers. PUF featured Fragile, the latest offering from the Zagreb/Amsterdam company Montazstroj, which had played the month before at the International Dance Festival in Zagreb. Ostensibly the story of Saul's conversion to Paul on the road to Damascus, Fragile featured five performers, three men and two women, who hurled, ran, and swung themselves violently through the space and at one another, choking, beating and torturing one another. Periodically, one of the characters would undergo a transformation, shed his/her modern clothes, and don a loincloth and robe more symbolic of "biblical" times. The setting consisted of [End Page 276] rows of identical black, hardcover books with blank pages. At first, the performers tried hard to maintain order within the space. As the show progressed, however, the blank books became canvases for artistic expression and weapons to hurl at fellow performers. At one point, two characters were buried under a pile of the large tomes, which had been defaced with chalk. By the end of the piece, the ordering of the books had been completely destroyed, and they...


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