Workshop “Behind the Scenes” is the fourth in a series of activities of the Youth Council Benčić. It was created in cooperation with the National Theatre Ivana pl. Zajc and is dedicated to the current changes that affect the NT, the general importance of the role of theater as a commentator and educator of society and as an incentive of proactive individual acts. The aim of the workshop was to raise awareness of children and young people of the depth and layerd role of theater that lies behind the scenes of fun and entertainment. We wanted the children to discover what is happening in the hidden corners of the theater – backstage, rehearsals, dressing rooms; to rehearsal rooms… what processes precede the creation of the visible product of which most have a chance to see just from the spectator spot. Also, with the quality time spent in the theater, we wanted to help children to develop a personal relationship with the theater as a place where they are welcome, and they know that they want to come back.

On Saturday, 22nd November, we started with getting to know one another and warming up. We examined the expectations of children on the theme of the workshop. After that we started with the game treasure hunt. Throughout the game the goal was that children learn about the history and interesting stories about the theater. Through question search children interacted with the building and its employees. We looked at some of the hidden corners and otherwise forbidden places in the theaters such as the reserved loggia, balcony, the official passage to the stage. The treasure waited on stage where we decided to hold a number of activities so that children can let go and try it out. The first game on stage was “Who works in the theater?” in which children were given the names of occupations and job descriptions. They had to connect the right names and descriptions. For this and other activities on the stage they were divided into groups. Then we read adjusted media announcements about the changes that are happening in the theater today. Each group was given an article and they had to present it in an interesting way. Some have selected to present in the form of TV shows, and some form of advertising.

After lunch, we went back to the theater where the employees of the theater – actor David Mekić, costume designer Manuela Paladin Sabanovic, stage manager Jolanda Pahor, and playwright Natasha Antulov and Mila Pavicevic were waiting for us. With them we were talking about their work, whether they like their job and how does their working day look like; whether they had some hard times, what they do when they mess up and do they love working in the theater…

We learned a lot of interesting information and for the end played a game with actor Jasmin Mekić.

The second day of the workshop was dedicated to the artistic creative expression, and was held in the Museum of the City of Rijeka. Marija Kajapi, otherwise associate of the set designer Stefan Katunar, joined us and showed the children the process of set design. Our theme was actually a question – how do you see the audience in the theater. The children were divided into two groups. One group worked on the stand for the wooden background. Marija brought a jig saw, drill, stapler, nails, screws and hammers for the wood work. The second group received the large dimensions paper, and each of them had a task to draw / paint a person in the audience.

Learning how to work with wood and handle tools was very exciting. Despite the noise we all had fun, but also learned responsibility while working with tools. In our imaginary audience you can spot a policeman, thief, chauffeur, Pippi Longstocking, a grandmother, an African-American and a young girl. Even you can find yourself in it if you peek through the gaps in the faces! The aim of this part of the workshop was to prompt children to think about the concept of openness, the role of theater in society as a gathering place of different opinions, and to review the changes taking place in the National Theatre Ivan pl. Zajc.

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