PUF festival – history

The international theatre festival PUF was founded in 1994 by the leaders of the four best non-institutional theatres in Croatia : Branko Sušac from “Dr. Inat” in Pula , Davor Mojaš from “Lero” in Zagreb , Nebojša Borojević from “Daska” in Sisak and Romano Bogdan from “Pinklec” in Čakovec. During wartime, when a large part of Croatia was occupied, while Dubrovnik and Sisak suffered the direct war threats, the founders of the festival decided to locate this theatre manifestation in Pula , which was spared from the direct war devastation. On the 1 st of May 1995 was inaugurated the 1 st International theatre festival, which in 1996 gained its definite name – International theatre festival PUF ( Pula ‘s alternative festival). PUF obtained a firm timetable: the first five days in May.

PUF was born as a direct comment on the Croatian theatre reality. Its arguments were very strong and equally referred to the theatrical and non-theatrical circumstances. In the first place, PUF came to life as a need of bringing together an important theatre generation, but the need has shortly after been outgrown. While wanting to show that theatres and theatre festivals do not necessarily need to have huge overhead expanses to serve them, PUF has with its choice and its concept indicated that the existing Croatian theatre festivals have completely ignored and forgotten an entire segment of the current theatre offer – and precisely the segment that represents Croatia on incomparably more international festivals than any other Croatian theatre institution. This festival was born as well as a comment on the terrible terminological imprecision and lack of clarity, which predominated (and still do) in the Croatian theatre life. The strict division between the professional and the amateur-theatre directly damaged the theatre companies, who with their work, aesthetics and poetics varied from the vaguely defined “mainstream” and the representative predictability of the so called populist naive. An increasing number of Croatian theatre companies, founded on the tradition of the Croatian modern theatre of the 70ties (a period of tectonic changes in the way one thinks about the theatre), couldn’t cope with the anachronistic, almost bureaucratic classifications of the “types of performing activities”. It is precisely in this tight spot, between the theatre reality and the frames, which did not exactly define this reality any longer, that PUF found its personality. The essence of PUF has been determined by Branko Sušac, the festival’s art director: “PUF is a festival of theatre differences and openness within a sincere theatre experience. It attracts different poetics, seeks new theatre directions and rallies artists and spectators round the idea of theatre. PUF establishes and stimulates dialogue and it gives a chance to polemics. PUF functions as a communication channel, it shows the world from a new angle: not monologue and passive communication, but dialogue, frankness, identification and participation. PUF wants to cross the boundary between life and theatre. It wants to enhance the inner reality of every participant in this project, which we could name theatre as well as life.”

On the first PUF, held in 1995, performed just one theatre-company from abroad, while on its second edition it presented 6 foreign plays, which became a standard. At the same time it became obvious that PUF is going to be a place of encounters among artists, who are different because of their worldview and inner necessity, and not because of their marginal social position. Even if PUF was from the very beginning a precious place for discussion about the professional and non-professional, about the institutional and non-institutional, about the amateur/alternative and the theatre of the “main stream”, these discussions abandoned the festival very soon, because it became clear that what one was looking for was – simply a good play, individual talent and capability for strong theatre communication, capability to face the contemporary theatre moment at home and abroad, and the success in this search couldn’t be guaranteed by the financial support given by the state, nor the diplomas given by the academies of dramatic arts. From its very beginning this festival has attracted the attention of the Croatian media, some of the reporters have got lost, some have given up, some of them have finally found themselves, some spectators have been lost, some have been enthralled, a great number of non-theatre venues has come to life in this continuous play. PUF has started its collaboration with Eurokaz and its audience has become well – defined. Besides theatre plays the festival has organized exhibitions, concerts, conferences, seminars, workshops and round tables. The festival’s chroniclers haven’t missed the opportunity to describe the positive atmosphere of the festival – PUF has become the trademark of the cultural life in Pula , whose theatre life has been dead for a long time. At the same time, PUF has presented to the inhabitants of Pula the theatre as a place of absolute concentration and silence, as well as a place of big noise and rage. During the days of the festival the whole city, the quarries, the marketplace, the main city squares, the little streets, everything has been animated. PUF has entered the army barracks, the city catacombs, the sea, it has climbed the theatre stages, and it has done all of that just to be able to enter the heart of the audience.

The list of the sites where the plays were held :

Portarata, Ex army barracks “Karlo Rojc”, Emergency shelter near the “Twin Gate”, Istrian National Theatre, Forum, Flanatic Street, Marketplace, History Museum of Istria, Seaside resort “Zelenika”, Industrial-waste dump “Jadranmetal”, Church of “Marija Formoza”, Quarry “Stoja”, Fižela Street, “Pula” cinema, Plateau in front of the Department store, “Ambrela” club (Verudela), Dante’s Square, Neptune’s Temple (Poreč), Small Roman Theatre, House of the Croatian Defenders, Quarry in Vinkuran, Ascent of Frane Glavinić.

List of countries whose plays were shown during the festival :

Croatia, Belgium, Germany, Norway, Italy, The Netherlands, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Monte Negro, Sweden, Czech Republic, Denmark, USA, Spain, Great Britain, Switzerland, Slovenia, Austria, Poland, Hungary, Russia, Macedonia, Japan.

Members of the Art board of PUF:

Romano Bogdan from Čakovec; Nebojša Borojević from Sisak; Vili Matula from Zagreb; Davor Mojaš from Dubrovnik; Bojan Munjin from Zagreb; Pavel Storek from Prague; Branko Sušac from Pula and Karla Železnik from Ljubljana.

Art director and selector of PUF:
Branko Sušac

Organizer of PUF:

Co-organizers of PUF:
Theatre “Dr. Inat” and Istrian National Theatre.


The award system for the best theatre creations has been established in 1997, during the festival’s third edition. The numerousness of the plays and the notable quality oscillations in the work of some theatre companies have imposed the need to single out the best among them. The festival board has created the system of theatre awards “PUF’s Theatre Sky” (“Kazaližno nebo PUF-a”) in order to give recognition, to appraise, to estimate, to valuate and to encourage the authentic stage – pondering of many poetic lines and significance of PUF. “PUF’s Theatre Sky” implicates an encircled selection of the awarded, who have with their creation marked the new edition of PUF and who have confirmed the fundamental postulates of the festival’s concept. “PUF’s Theatre Sky” includes three equal awards, which are according to the judgement of the jury, assigned to the most successful group and individual realisation. The names of the awards represent three dynamic sky “elements” or “symbols”:

OBLAK (CLOUD) – award for stage – pondering, which with its completeness and integrity remains a central and a prestigious decoration of the “PUF’s Theatre Sky”

VJETAR (WIND) – award for research attainments, which give indication of a breakthrough and bring freshness to the “PUF’s Theatre Sky”

KAPLJA (DROP) – award for the individual or group realization, which within its own contribution represents an announcement of freshness and leaves a scent on the “PUF’s Theatre Sky”

The sculptures, which symbolically represent the awards, till 2005th the sculptures are created by Pula`s artist Marina Orlic, and from 2008th by Pula`s academic sculptor professor Roberta Weissman Nagy.


1997. “Oblak” – Mladinski kulturen centar Skopje i Intercult: “Bacchanalia”;
“Vjetar” – Teatar Cinema: “Bilard”;
“Kaplja” – Teatar Novogo Fronta: “Fabrika”;

1998. “Oblak” – The Shamans: “Licemjeri”;
“Vjetar” – Lux Flux & Saira Blannche Theatre: “Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch”;
“Kaplja” – Valentina Čabro: “Exah”

1999. “Oblak” – Gledališče Glej Theatre: “Medium Coeli”;
“Vjetar” – Sabina Sonnenschein: “Exeo”;
“Kaplja” – Theatre Cinema: “Dong”

2000. “Oblak” – Dr. Inat: “Ružičasti sni”;
“Vjetar” – Anno Domini 2000.;
“Kaplja” – Milan Kohout: “Ova zemlja pripada meni” i SU -EN Butoh Company: “Scarp – The truck”;
Posebna nagrada – The Stroy: “Ventilator”

2001. “Oblak” – nije dodijeljen;
“Vjetar” – Theatar: “PLANETarium Silo”;
“Kaplja” – SU -EN “The Scrap Project” i D. B. Indoš i House of Extreme Music Theatre: “Njihanje”

2002. “Oblak” – Anno Domini 2002. – “Pulpa Parado”;
“Vjetar” – Teatar Novogo Fronta: “Vagabond Adam Kadmon”;
“Kaplja” – Gregor VVeber: “Kafka ne butoh”;
Posebna nagrada: Daska

2003. “Oblak” – Silo Theatar: “60 stupnjeva”;
“Vjetar” – Teatar Nor: “Skup za loše vrijeme”;
“Kaplja” – Andreas Eilertsen iz Teatra Nor: “Usamljeni Butt (Osoba koju svi zafrkavaju)”;
Posebna nagrada: Studentski teatar Lero

2004. “Oblak” – Anno Domini 2004.: “Room Service” (hrvatsko-njemačka koprodukcija);
“Vjetar” – Forgotten Fish Memory Orchestra, Nizozemska – “The Philosophical Egg”;
“Kaplja” – Kazalište Kufer, Zagreb – “Jutro”;
Posebna nagrada “Zvijezda” – Iva Đorđević, projekt “Krugovi” u nastajanju Kazališta INAT, Pula, Hrvatska

2005. “Oblak” – Dr. INAT, Hrvatska: “Krugovi”;
“Vjetar” – Free International Radicals Etc., Njemačka;
“Kaplja” – Šandor Slacki iz Dr. INAT-a, Hrvatska: “Krugovi”;
Posebna nagrada: Maja Delak i Mala Kline, Slovenija: “Gina i Miovanni”; Sol Pico, Španjolska: “La Divadivina Y El Hombrebala”

2006. “Oblak” – The Arson Art ASSC, Njemačka: “Vatreni tuš &23RD Pakao”;
“Vjetar” – Anno Domini 2006.: “Hotel s 5 zvjezdica” (nizozemsko-hrvatski projekt);
“Kaplja” – Vilim Matula, Zagreb, Hrvatska: “Točka”; Ahmad El Essawi, Libija: “Smrt nebitnog čovjeka”

2007. “Oblak” – Jugoslavensko dramsko pozorište, Srbija: “Cirkus istorija”;
“Vjetar” – Silent Tide, Velika Britanija;
“Kaplja” – Jori Snell iz Baba Yaga Theatre, Danska: “Very short stories of creatures and their journey towards a home”

2008. “Oblak” – Orto-da Theatre: “Stones”
“Vjetar” – Shalala Ehf: “A User’s Manual IBM 1401”
“Kaplja” – Adam Read: “Eclipse”

2009. “Oblak” – Bacači sjenki: “Exposition”
“Vjetar” – Katuk: “Sirena na tanjuru”
“Kaplja” – Contemporary Dance Studio: “The Spirit (prone to change)”

2010. “Oblak” – Bacači sjenki: “Holidays from history” and Teatro Corsario: “The Curse of Poe’s”
“Vjetar” – Siniša Labrović: “Gloria”
“Kaplja” – Silvija Marchig, Darko Japelj and Nataša Govedić: “This is (not) my Forest”

2011. ”Oblak” – Branko Potočan and Fourklor: “Through the Eyes of touch”
”Vjetar” – Anno Domini 2011.: “Pola-Pule”
”Kaplja” – Ulika and Le SNOB: “GLISSSSSSSSENDO”

2012. “Oblak” – Theatre 2000: “Who are you and what are you doing right?”
“Vjetar” – Allessandro Sciarroni: “Joseph” and Bitef Theatre: “The Divine Comedy”
“Kaplja” – Mokre gljive: “Ballads Petrica Kerempuh”


2014. “Oblak” – Niv Sheinfeld & Oren Laor: „Two Room Apartment“
“Vjetar” – AMCB Compagnie/Adrien M. & Claire B. Company: „Hakanaï“
“Kaplja” – Nava Frenkel & Nevo Romano: „Walking away
Special Award – “GROM” – Branko Sušac, for artistic and organizational attainment