Launched in 2018, Young Theatre is now a permanent program of the Maribor Theatre Festival six years later. It is based on various forms of creative and educational activities, as well as methodological and professional support to guide and develop young audiences coming into contact with different performing practices. It includes various activities aimed at theatre literacy, reflection on performance techniques, theatrical approaches and strategies, and training for professionals in education, creation, and culture. The core of the program is a selection of Slovenian and international theatre performances, accompanied and complemented by discussions, round tables, creative workshops, presentations of theatre techniques, various creative and pedagogical approaches, and other supporting activities. We wanted to offer young people a wide range of different perspectives on theatre and to ensure that they play an active role in the planning and implementation processes, recognizing and developing their creative and personal potential, and thus having a holistic creative experience that leads to a positive and lasting relationship with theatre and art. The core mission is to successfully engage young people in theatre and to create lasting theatre-going habits. We wanted to establish a comprehensive and professionally informed system of activities that connects Slovenian stakeholders in the field of theatre, theatre and art education, while also linking with comparable international platforms. As the many positive responses, we have received from our participants and partners over the years show, we have been successful in doing so. Over this period, Young Theatre has developed into a comprehensive program, which this year, for the first time, has been given an independent performance date in May (the main part of the festival takes place in the first half of June), to optimally exploit its full potential. As we already considered the sustainability of these activities for the development of Slovenian theatre and new audiences when we launched them, this year we have also prepared an online handbook with examples of good practices from Slovenia and abroad. It is designed to be open and will be continuously updated over the coming years. We hope that it will serve as professional support, inspiration, and a signpost for your responsible task of designing young audience development activities.
Aleš Novak, artistic director