As a permanent competition festival of national drama and theatre, Sterijino pozorje was established in 1956, within the celebration of the 150th anniversary of birth and the 100th anniversary of death of the great Serbian comedist Jovan Sterija Popovic.
The most prominent people of our society, culture and arts of that time took part in defining and establishing the programme and status of Sterijino pozorje. The members of the first Board of Sterijino pozorje (appointed by the Novi Sad City Council on 29th March 1956) were Josip Vidmar (chairman), Ivo Andric, Milan Bogdanovic, Branko Gavela, Velibor Gligoric, Dimitar Kjostarov, Mladen Leskovac, Veljko Petrovic, Tomislav Tanhofer, Radomir Radujkov, and Milos Hadzic, among others. It was then that the programme aims and objectives were clearly articulated: to promote the art of theatre and stimulate the development of dramatic literature through the permanent festival of national drama.
Emerged as a need, as a possibility of solving a moment of crisis of the domestic literary-stage creativity, Pozorje has grown into a permanent, continuous impetus of the contemporary domestic dramatic creative productivity and the top-class quality of performance. Always striving to treat the phenomenon of theatre art integrally, Pozorje has shaped its programmes into a clear and rounded up unity of systematic professional areas in the field of theatre and dramaturgy. In its fifty years of existence, it has instituted and developed activities which bear great importance for the national theatre culture and has become a significant and reliable instrument for identification and verification of stage and dramatic values and, to a great extent, a backbone of scientific and theoretical reflection on theatre and drama.
Pozorje is an illustrative example of the realisation of an inexhaustible inspiration by domestic dramatic texts. 2007 saw the institution of a permanent Competition for an original contemporary domestic dramatic text, which does not end up with the presentation of awards. Pozorje takes over the responsibility over the stage life of the awarded text: it hands it over, free of charge, to the interested playhouse; publishes the awarded and short-listed texts in the “Scena” magazine in Serbian and English.
What naturally follows is co-productional support to the staging of not only the text awarded at the Competition, but also the dramas Pozorje finds deserving. The beginning was marked by Milena Markovic’s text Simeon the Foundling and its Serbian National Theatre production.
The workshop of contemporary text in the region – New Drama at Pozorje – speaks eloquently of the attitude Pozorje takes towards domestic dramatic text. The co-organisers are SNT, Integrali, Ljubljana (Slovenia), Nova-drama.org., Belgrade. Young dramaturges and directors from almost all the neighbouring countries work on the texts written by their colleagues, assisted by the SNT actors and actresses and students of the Academy of Arts in Novi Sad. The workshop was first initiated in 2007 and as two texts from the workshop are staged in institutional theatres, it can be said that this programme justifies its function of promoting young authors.
It is held annually, at the end of May in Novi Sad. The repertoire is based on the selection which is conducted by the art director/selector.