We are all theatrically interwoven

By Kenjiro Otani

 Ending September begining October 2016 ASSITEJ Serbia has organized Balkan’s Tour of Japannese performance AYANASU/WOVEN directed by Kenjiro Otani and produced by Dora Theatre Company and company ma’s tour with the support of Japan Foundation Performing Arts - Japan Programme for Europe and Tokyo Metropolitain Fund.


 "It was an epoch-making event in many ways.

ASSITEJ Serbia in collaboration with ASSITEJ Croatia has invited a Japanese TYA production named “Ayanasu (Woven)”, which Dora, a 45-year-old modern-drama company, experimentally created in collaboration with a newborn company called “Company MA”, whose work was not yet known, after the East Japan Great Earthquake for the company’s 40th anniversary.

ASSITEJ Serbia has established a strongly trustworthy relationship with TYA in Japan for a last few years, bringing and creating baby drama called “Baby Space” by Dalija Aćin Thelander and having a number of lectures by Diana Kržanić Tepavac, who is the initiator of all these establishments, in Japan.

Due to Diana’s commitments, ASSITEJ Serbia has achieved to make this tour happen with supports from Japan Foundation in Serbia and Tokyo Arts Council in a magical collaboration with the Japanese theatre companies through a wonderful coordinator, Jovana Savić from Bosko Buha Theatre in Belgrade, who later became our tour manager.

As most of those who have done international collaboration works probably know, it is not easy to coordinate a tour. Especially with this tour, we have traveled 3 cities in Serbia and 3 cities in Croatia (from small ones to big ones), performed in 6 different theatres (once again from small ones to big ones with different availabilities of technical equipment and so on) and given workshops in 4 theatres. ASSITEJ Serbia and Croatia must have coped so well for this cultural event through tremendous coordinating work of Jovana Savić.

The tour was incredibly successful. At most of the theatres the audiences were packed, the performances were well-received with endless applauses and a few standing ovations, the workshops gathered varieties of artists, students, and generations, whose commitments were tremendous and responses afterwards were highly appreciative.

The performance has dealt with disaster caused by an earthquake, and it may touch certain subjects that can be considered hard to touch, such as loss, neglect, anger, and fear. And it was very impressive to feel and receive tremendous sympathies toward the performance’s subjects non-verbally expressed from the audiences as well as the workshop participants in Serbia and Croatia.

Andrzej Wajda, a Polish film director, who has recently passed away, sent Japanese people a message after the earthquake in 2011, saying, “You are always aware of a fact that you never know when you have to face with a crisis that changes your way of living; however, it is surprising and wonderful that Japanese do not fall into pessimism. Rather than being pessimistic, Japanese art is filled with joy of life and optimism. (translated from Japanese)”.

The same sense was definitely felt among the people who participated in the performances and the workshops in Serbia and Croatia. They have their histories that may be beyond our imagination. But we have definitely witnessed their optimism toward future. And once again, we have come to conclusion that is what theatre can do for those who live in future, having artistically reconstructed our experiences, and it was an epoch-making event woven by ASSITEJ network.

Many thanks to Puppet Theatre Niš, Pinokio Puppet Theatre Belgrade, Pozorište Mladih Novi Sad- Theatre of Youth, Childen's Theatre Branko Mihaljevic Osijek, Virovitica Theatre, Cultural Center Čakovec, ASSITEJ Serbia, ASSITEJ Croatia, and all of you involved with this theatrical journey from Dora Theatre Company, company ma, and ASSITEJ Japan for more collaboration to come."

Kenjiro Otani, director

*Published on ASSITEJ International website