The first thing I would like to point out in my explanation of this year’s selection is the number of applications for the 24th FEP competition – there were 24 plays that applied for participation in the festival. As much as I felt glad because of it, especially having in mind the difficulties (let’s remind ourselves that last year, it was uncertain whether the festival will be organized or not) with which FEP encounters but still endures, that much it has made this selection a difficult task for me.
It is important to say that with the existing theme which is implied by the Festival of ecological theater (environmental protection, ecology and ecology of spirit), as well as with this year’s festival’s motto – Power to the imagination – and also my invitation to make imagination the main criterion which serves as a guide for the creators of plays, my expectations were completely fulfilled by the troupes as they have pointed out the diversity (as in form, so in content) of theater creativity for children and youth to me. Also, I would say that of significant importance is the fact that the troupes that applied for this year’s FEP (equally represented self-organized professionals as well as institutional theaters) not only come from Serbia and region, but from all around the world!
A large number of plays deserved to enter this year’s selection. Still, led by the 24th FEP’s motto – Power to the imagination – and making an effort to present a diversity of the creative approach, which was evident in the plays that applied for the festival, I’ve decided to choose the following plays for the competition selection of this year’s festival, for which I believe they represent variety and imagination of theater creativity for children and youth in the best way:

‘’SORO AND THE LUCKY GRAIN OF CORN’’ – theater troupe La vie a Pied from Paris, (France).
A play based on the book The Lucky Grain of Corn by Veronique Tadjo, directed by Deborah Martin who also performs in this scenic spectacle, accompanied by her colleague Johan Lemmy. This play successfully combines elements of musical, ambiental, puppet and shadow theater, telling an exciting story about a boy called Soro and his search for the grain of corn.

‘’TONKA BONTONKA’’ – city theater Scena Gorica from Zagreb (Croatia), made by authors Dunja Fajdin and Jelena Radan, directed by Morana Dolenc.
Through the form of a musical, with attractive aesthetic expression, the play “Tonka Bontonka” stands out with its educative character, encouraging and thus caring about the idea about the ecology of spirit.

‘’PAPER’’ – cultural center of Smederevska Palanka and city theater Scena Lutka, Smederevska Palanka, (Serbia), author and director: Pavle Jozić.
The puppet show “Paper” is the only puppet show of this year’s selection, and what’s important to note is that it’s entirely in the spirit of the ecological theme of FEP, as the puppets in this show are made out of paper. Besides being a puppet show, this play is non-verbal, and it brings us a story about two people growing up and maturing, through a kind of pantomime-puppet expression.

‘’CAT, THRUSH AND ROOSTER’’ – Center for modern dramaturgy from Yekaterinburg (Russia).
This play’s team of authors are led by director Nikolay Kolyada. It is based on a Russian fairytale of the same name. The play successfully combines a classic dramatic structure with musical theater. Through an interactive approach and attractive visual elements, this play brings the kids a story about cultural heritage and folklore of one country in a very exciting way.

“RED PLUM SEED” - theater Tarla Faresi from Izmir (Turkey).
A play based on the story by Ismail Kocamaz. Through a skillfully choreographed monodrama it brings an exciting adventure of a plum seed which, instead of landing on a fertile land, falls on the asphalt. By exchanging drama and choreography elements, this play creatively brings a gentle and touching story to viewers of all ages.

“ZOOTEKA” - theater Pinokio from Belgrade (Serbia).
Based on a text by Aleksandar Đaja, directed by Vladan Đurković. This play combines the forms of an interactive musical and of a puppet theater, and it introduces an educative story about the evolution of living organisms on planet Earth, in a very attractive way. Director Đurković did a great job with bringing the legendary TV show Zooteka to the theater stage. The show’s idea is modernized and adapted for the youngest generations.

“THE FIRST STORY” – theather “The dot on i” from Zagreb (Croatia).
Made for the final exam of actress Antonia Šašo, this puppet show, through an imaginative artistic expression, bringing the story of the creation of the world closer to children. In a concise and impressive manner, three actors control the puppets and scenography, creating the sound atmosphere of the show at the same time. Aside from the creative and unique expression, it is also important to note the ecological awareness of The First Story.

Besides these seven plays which I’ve chosen for the competition selection of the 24th Festival of ecological theater for children and youth, I would like to single out a troupe called Young Circus Performers from Kigali (Rwanda). I would like to propose their series of circus acts titled “UNIT IS POWER” as a part of the revial part of the festival. Although it wasn’t chosen for the competition selection, I decided to include this troupe’s act because of its approach and performing format.

Tijana Grumić