One of the basic principles our society in transition functions on is the common phrase which, I presume, we all know: ''Don't rock the boat!'' The representatives of such a worldview are present everywhere, even in the art of the theatre. Though it seems, unfortunately, that no kind of riot can provoke a response from the rigid structures of power (which we could see for ourselves during the student blocade of the Faculty of Philosophy), nor rouse the dormant awareness of the citizens, every now and then, fortunately, some purifying upheavals occur that gradually, in the future, result in a more significant change of the state of affairs.
Considering the fact that, within the theatre world, we deal with the aforementioned every step of the way, my intention was to make this selection in such a way – to the extent made possible by the current season's productions – to give the advantage to the productions that are, in one way or the other, trying to shake up the existing image of the Croatian theatre. Because, if every true work of art is – a creation, and each creation, in its essence, is exploratory (which is not connected solely to the off-projects, but with the so-called mainstream as well), then the true area of art includes criticism, questioning, ''rocking the boat'' (the characteristics that are inseparable from the exploratory impulse) and for that matter cannot and must not belong to the area of civic obedience.
Giving the fact that ''Gavella Evenings'' are one of the most significant domestic theatre festivals, whose ambition is to assemble in one place the best and the most important dramatic productions of the season, it should, in my opinion, seeing it through the prism of all things mentioned above, try to stir up, in a positive way, the existing state of affairs and give way to the successful creative challenges, not just to the solid, workmanlike working off of repertorial tasks.
I see ''Gavella Evenings'' as a festival that should not set the boundaries and function according to the dualistic principles of separation, but as a festival that gathers, connects and unites in one place not only all of the dramatic institutional and non-institutional theatres and theatre groups from Croatia, but that which we call the theatre mainstream and the theatre alternative as well. Therefore, some productions of more conventional (yet exploratory and fresh) theatrical expression, as well as the propulsive productions that are trying to bring some new, more than welcome trends into the Croatian theatre, found their place on the festival's repertoire.
At this point I simply cannot continue and not to mention one production that, almost paradigmatically, comprises all of the characteristics that the Croatian theatre substantially lacks (these are – along with the aesthetical and ideological prudence –
rocking the boat, propulsiveness, radical honesty and the courage to critically question the moment which we live in). To my deep regret, this production could not be incorporated in the festival due to the fact that Gavella Evenings regulations exclude all of the summer festival productions. The production I'm talking about, of course, is Euripides' ''Bacchae'' (Split Summer Festival, 2008), directed by one of the most interesting directors of the younger generation – Oliver Frljić.
However, what we will se during these ''Gavella Evenings'' is the play ''Menagerie'' by a young director Anica Tomić who is, alongside Frljić, the strongest name of the young generation and who brings some new trends into the Croatian theatre; trends organized in an aesthetic code following the tradition of the post-dramatic theatre. From a similar aesthetic code comes a production of exceptional performative power – ''Evita'', by the contemporary Argentinian playwright Raul Damonte Copi, directed by Senka Bulić, as well as the authorial project by Filip Šovagović ''Illiad 2001'', whereas ''Robinson & Crusoe'', directed by Rene Medvešek, is a small stage pearl of his recognizable authorial poetics.
Two productions based on the texts by contemporary Croatian writers and playwrights, some of whom also thematize the malicious wounds of our here and now – ''Zagreb Pentagram'', directed by Paolo Magelli and ''The Negro'', directed by our guest from Slovenia, Tomi Janežič – are supreme ensemble productions of a modern and freshly contemplated mainstream. A freshness in the Croatian theatre was brought in by the production ''The Flight of Fancy'', based on the contemporary play by Gilles Granouillet, directed also by a guest from France – Jean-Claude Berutti, who made the ZYT actors almost unrecognizable in exceptionally made, grotesquely twisted creations. ''The Pillowman'', directed by Saša Broz is another exceptional contemporary play by Martin McDonagh, whom the audience in Croatia are already familiar with.
The productions that represent the prudent and contemporary theatrical reading of the classics are Dostojevski's ''Crime and Punishment'', directed by our Russian guest Aleksandar Ogarev and Büchner's ''Woyzeck'', directed by the Slovene director Samo M. Strelec. ''Šokica'', a play by Ilija Okrugić is something of a move from the other selected productions due to the fact that this is an extraordinary repertorial selection, to say the least, of a completely archaic, folklore play. However, the director, Dražen Ferenčina, has managed to show how to make, from a noncontemporary and, at times like these, completely naive text, a vivacious production which, by toying with the mild ironic digression, easily communicates with the contemporary man.
Finally, I am aware that this selection is only one of the possibilities, considering that being a selector is a creative act which includes the selector's deliberation on the art of the theatre. I hope, however, that by selecting these productions, to the extent that was enabled to me by the current season's productions, I have succeeded in my intent – to support the pulsating, living theatre that corresponds to the social and the theatrical moment in which it is created.