The eleventh edition of the World Theatre Festival explores the original intention for the Festival to serve as an event whose aesthetics bring together artists and audiences. Now that Croatia has become a member of the European Union, the culture we create must be recontextualized. The sickening smell of an economic and moral crisis took the potential for performative creation away from this occasion and threw it into lethargy that plagues the social and personal spheres.

We want the Festival performances to reawaken the enchantment of life, to transform all of us taking part in it. If the answer to the ailments of the world is sought by philosophy, let us remind ourselves that theater has been its inseparable companion for over two and a half thousand years. Does this mean that theater, too, should find an answer to capitalist parliamentarism, which stole the name of democracy and violently conquered the planet?

Two centuries ago, when asked about the object of science, German mathematician Charles Gustav Jacob Jacobi replied: "the honor of the human spirit." Today, the same answer Alain Badiou offers to theater. It exists to save the honor of the human spirit. Theatre reveals and points to the terrible complexities of our lives.

Forced Entertainment began their adventure in the 1980s, when they moved to Sheffield, the heart of the working-class England, which was destroyed by the Margaret Thatcher’s liberal policies. Listening to the other is the core of their work, refined by improvisation. The Upcoming Storm is made up of a tangle of stories creating a powerful epic. Imagination here goes into the zone of lost childhood memories, and their theatre is like a cure, a spiritual exercise that delivers us from the horrors of monotony and directs us to thinking, acting, and searching for answers. World Theatre Festival seeks to be a joyful celebration of such an inventive practice.

Ivo Van Hove, whose Opening Night we loved for its inventive stage disposition bringing together actors, technicians, emotions and catharsis, immerses actors’ bodies in the delicate violence of O’Neill’s nightmares. Each segment of the Long Day’s Journey into Night is essential. The closed space, violent family relations, the cold, the disease, memories; everything is condensed and organically and brutally transposed from the American South to here and now.

At the heart of Mann’s novella Death in Venice is a hopeless aging man who enters into metaphysical spheres as he sees a young boy. His identity of a completely liberated man struggles with his identity of a corrupted man wary of courage, subjected to traditionalism and conservative sense of safety. Thomas Ostermeier’s play is a wonderful subliminal exercise of such a struggle. We were introduced to Gustav von Aschenbach as Mann’s readers. We witnessed Dirk Bogarde in Visconti’s film as an avant-garde composer who cannot deal with a personal and artistic crisis. Ostermeier’s hero displays yet another dimension. He asks the spectator: Am I what you imagine me to be? In fact he’s asking all of us: Are you what you imagine yourselves to be?

Delirium in a king size bed, an indispensable stage prop in bourgeois comedy, would seem banal weren’t the play’s director Christoph Marthaler. King Size is a theatrical medley of opera arias, TV shows, pop standards such as Tout, tout pour ma chéri; all of it with choreography filled with burlesque and sadness. Only Marthaler can bring together Bach, Wagner and The Jackson Five, as well as Beckett and vaudeville. The great master brings us one of his finest plays, leaving us breathless, bound in theatrical time. A condensate of melancholy releases the brakes and triggers spontaneous laughter. An hour and twenty minutes of happiness, fantasy and tenderness are the best remedy for world-pain.

The pain of the verses by Rimbaud, Pasolini, Artaud, Eliot and Whitman is echoed in Pippo Delbono’s "cry of the soul". Between death and lust for life we are offered a concert that is more than an event. One needs to hear Pippo’s broken voice traveling across the Apennines all the way to Romania, to meet the magical violinist Alexander Bălănescu. Through this poetry the Festival calls the audience to vitalism.

Dubravka Vrgoč and Ivica Buljan, artistic director of the Festival