Theatre Talk

Culture Mar 21, 2019 No Comments

The Komedija City Theatre is the biggest theatre in Zagreb. In 2020 it celebrates its 70th birthday. We spoke with its young director, Krešimir Batinić.

Krešimir Batinić, Photo by Ivan Balić Cobra

ZIYP: Could you briefly introduce yourself for our readers?
Krešimir Batinić: A guy from Osijek who lives in Zagreb. A conductor and the director of Zagreb’s Komedija City Theatre.

ZIYP: Krešimir, in March it will be two years since you took over as director of the theatre. On 23 March the show Jesus Christ Superstar premieres, which sounds a little symbolic. If you look back on these two years, how far have you managed to move the Komedija closer to your vision?
Krešimir Batinić: That’s right! I can’t believe that two years of my tenure have passed already. Yes, our production of the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar coincides with the halfway point of my term here. It may sound symbolic but it’s not intentional. I didn’t plan on celebrating two years as director with a performance. The last two years have changed both my life and the life of the Komedija. A lot has been done in a short space of time. Honestly, I don’t know where to start nor what is most important. I am happy because the City of Zagreb has recognised the need to renovate the Komedija theatre. So in recent years quite a lot has been done in that regard, and what the audience sees is a completely renovated viewpoint. Another important thing is that the theatre is slowly but surely climbing out of its long-standing debt, and that is just an indicator that we are doing things right. What are most important to me, apart from good financial results, are the performances and the Komedija’s repertoire. I am happy with how all the new productions are resonating over the past two years. The audience loves the Komedija, and together with a great repertoire and a happy theatre company that’s the most important thing to me.

Jesus Christ Super Star, Photo by Ines Novković, Komedija Theatre Archives

ZIYP: Can you tell us more about the premiere of Jesus Christ Superstar which is scheduled for the end of March?
Krešimir Batinić: The rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar will first see the light of day on 23 March, almost 20 years after the first production. After the concerts we held last year with the Zagreb Philharmonic the idea of putting Jesus Christ Superstar on our stage at Kaptol was born. The idea fell on fertile ground. This is a big production and we didn’t want to put ourselves in a position which would restrict us on the way. The team who put this production together is wonderful. As well as Damir Lončar as director there is my wonderful colleague Dinko Appelt; Leo Mujić, a choreographer with a global reputation; set designer Ivo Knezević and costume designer Mirjana Zagorec. Alongside the theatre’s already wonderful cast of soloists the Komedija’s audience will have the chance to get to know some new young hopes. We held a large audition at which we found a great many new, young and extremely talented people. I can only say to you, come and enjoy the Komedija theatre!

ZIYP: Which projects do you plan for the next two years? Do you think that four years is enough for everything you want to do?
Krešimir Batinić: We have lots of plans and little time. A lot has been done already, and even more is planned. My wish and my plan is, among other things, to introduce the Komedija to a wider audience. Here I am thinking of the younger generation (students and the young at heart). I would like to open the path to family performances (what are called “Family Shows” on Broadway and in the West End) because in that way you are bringing up new generations of theatre audiences.

ZIYP: The Komedija celebrates its 70th birthday in 2020. What plans do you have to mark the occasion?
Krešimir Batinić: We are thinking intensively about the Komedija’s jubilee, but I would rather talk about that once those ideas and plans crystallise into something more clear.

Komedija Theatre, Photo by Ivan Balić Cobra

ZIYP: Which performances would you highlight and recommend to people who are thinking about coming to the Komedija?
Krešimir Batinić: Everything of course! It’s hard for me to highlight any particular performance from the repertoire. Performances are like children. I already have about ten of them and it’s hard to say which is my favourite.

ZIYP: And to conclude, a little about lifestyle. Which is your favourite place for coffee in town? What is your favourite production, and which music are you currently listening to?
Krešimir Batinić: I don’t have a favourite place. What’s important to me is the company I am in when I go for a coffee. But I can recommend the coffee and the view from the Strojarska Business Centre. I have a lot of favourite productions so I cannot single out a single one. And at the moment I am listening to Madonna, P!nk, Michael Jackson and more. I recently bought a record player and I now collect vinyl records.

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