Five amateur theatre troupes took part in this year’s Days, from Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovakia and Macedonia.

The Croatian Peasant civic centre in Hercegovac was the venue on the 23rd and 24th of February for the latest instalment of the Days of Croatian Folk Theatre. Performing at the gala opening of the event was the vocal ensemble of the Croatian Reading Room of Hercegovac Folklore Association, followed by words of welcome from the president of the Croatian Reading Room of Hercegovac Zrinka Cjetojević, the mayor of the Municipality of Hercegovac Boro Bašljan and the director of the Croatian Heritage Foundation Mijo Marić. The festival was declared officially open by Bjelovar-Bilogora County prefect Damir Bajs.
Stjepan Banas, as we recall, was one of the initiators and founders of the Days of Croatian Folk Theatre in Hercegovac. He launched the event with the support of the Croatian Heritage Foundation and its then director Ante Beljo and the current head of our publishing department Vesna Kukavica. For the past twenty-four years this event has been staged every February, an event that Banas says links the Croatian homeland and its diaspora through theatre expression, contributing thereby to the full affirmation of the Croatian cultural identity.
The participants of this year’s event were amateur theatre troupes from four countries: Croatia (the Pučka scena theatre troupe of the Croatian Reading Room of Hercegovac and the Picollo Teatar troupe from Stari Grad on Hvar island), Bosnia-Herzegovina (the Croatian Amateur Theatre of Travnik), Slovakia (the theatre troupe of the Croatian community in Slovakia of Hrvatski Jandrof and Čunovo) and Macedonia (the Marko Marulić Croatian Culture Centre).
On day one of the festival event the audience was treated to Kuća za rušenje (A House for Demolition), a play put on by the Pučka scena theatre troupe of the Croatian Reading Room of Hercegovac, written by Vjekoslav Domini and directed by Natalija Lacina. The theatre troupe of Travnik (Bosnia-Herzegovina) staged the play Pobuna u kokošinjcu (Mutiny in the Chicken Coop), written and directed by Ante Bilić. Day two saw theatre workshops for the participants under the directorial baton of Nina Kleflic. After the workshops the event moved back to stage plays, this time put on by the troupes from Slovakia and Macedonia, all wrapped up by a performance by the troupe from Stari Grad on the island of Hvar. The theatre troupe from Slovakia’s Croatian communities of Hrvatski Jandrof and Čunovo performed the play Škulja va stijeni (Hole in the Rock), penned by Maks Neal and Anton Hamik and directed by Štefan Jankovič. The troupe from Macedonia performed director Saša Necevski’s take on Don Zolidis’ 10 Ways to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse. The closing performance featured Hvar’s Picollo Teatar troupe’s staging of writer Miroljub Nedović’s Đavolja posla (The Devil’s Work) as directed by Michal Babiak.
CHF director Mijo Marić and project head Nives Antoljak took the opportunity to present Ante Bilić, the founder of the Croatian Theatre of Travnik and of the Croatian Culture Centre of Nova BIla, with a donation consisting of the collected works of Ivo Andrić for the Andrić Days culture event in Travnik.
Day two also saw the theatre troupes visited by Croatian Writers’ Association president and CHF Board of Directors member Đuro Vidmarović, CHF deputy director Ivan Tepeš and CHF secretary Diana Mašala Perković.
The lead organiser of this two-day event is the Croatian Reading Room of Hercegovac, joined by co-organiser the Croatian Heritage Foundation and sponsors the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia, Bjelovar-Bilogora County and the Municipality of Hercegovac.
Throughout all of its years this now traditional event has had as its mission to preserve the Croatian language and heritage—the Croatian Reading Room of Hercegovac has now chalked up its twenty-fourth such effort, with the great assistance of the hosts, participants, co-organisers and all the sponsors, who have faithfully worked with the Days of Croatian Folk Theatre in Hercegovac, providing support for amateur theatre and bringing diaspora and homeland Croatia together.

By: Naida Šehović