Dubravka Vrgoč

Croatian Theatre at the Close of the Nineties. From Political Queries to Aesthetic Challenges

In the early nineties a new generation of playwrights and directors emerged in the Croatian theatre, phasing out the collective political obsession of the theatre and paving a way for the development of new motives, symbols, meanings, figures, textual structures, and myths. These young dramatists departed from a long tradition lasting from the mid nineteen fifties to eighties, in which politics was a central theme of the Croatian theatre, derived from the conflict between individuals and the political system, and out of the genuine political bitterness of the playwrights. As a result, the plays written and performed in Croatian theatres in the first half of the nineties were free from ideology, dramatic aggression, indictment-burdened dialogues, polemical tones, all standard patterns of political theatre within a space in which the face of the enemy was clearly identifiable. Those were the days which had foreboded and subsequently brought to life the collapse of idelogical systems and the breakdown of high-sounding declarations, the days of fear, war threats and tragedies in which everybody felt vulnerable when faced by reality.

The plays of young authors Asja Srnec Todorović, Lada Kaštelan, Ivan Vidić and Pavo Marinković conveyed the news of death and presented dead characters. Croatian drama wiped out the borderlines between life and death, focusing its attention on losses and the inability to avoid reality or to run a way from it. The playwrights expressed their own weakness through obsessive images of blood, water, rot, mud, darkness, and cold; their disorientated heroes were not table to identify historical solutions or promises of way out. The plays – Dead Wedding, Someone Else, Glorietta, Fever, and Retreat – are a witness to the need for generation dramatically changed by the war, a generation not directly involved in war problems but to which the war, on another crucial level, writes out the pages of their scripts.


Dubravka Vrgoč is the General Manager of the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb. She started her career as theatre critic and journalist in the early 80ies. Soon afterwards she contributed also as author and script writer to various TV and radio programmes and completed her studies as dramaturge at the University of Zagreb. Throughout the last 20 years, she acted as jury or board member of diverse Croatian cultural activities with an international profile such as the “International Puppet Festival”, the Croatian center of ITI-Unesco, or the “Croatian Drama Festival”. She worked for the ministry of foreign affairs with the Croatian government and as international relations advisor for the cultural department of the City of Zagreb. She conducted research projects on “Theatre for the 21st century” in London and in New York, has been invited to numerous meetings and conferences as Croatian cultural expert organized by the Council of Europe or UNESCO. She was the artistic director of the Zagreb Youth Theatre since 2004 and of the World Theatre Festival which she founded in Zagreb, Croatia in 2003.