Sunčana Škrinjarić: The Enchanted Forest

Date created: 23.01.2024.
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Sunčana Škrinjarić: THE ENCHANTED FOREST

a musical-theatre play


Premiere held on August 12 2022 at the 73rd Dubrovnik Summer Festival. 


DirectorLea Anastazija Fleger

Composer: Frano Đurović

Conductor: Mateo Narančić

Dramatization author and dramaturge: Nikolina Rafaj

Set and Costume designZdravka Ivandija Kirigin

Associate for stage movementMatea Bilosnić

Lighting designerMarko Mijatović

Production assistant: Ida Klemenčić

Costume design assistant: Tina Spahija

Headpiece designer: Ana Mikulić

Stage manager: Aida Machiedo

Cactus King: Romano Nikolić

Beaver, Water Queen: Jelena Miholjević

Painter: Matija Gašpari

Hedgehog, Wizard: Vini Jurčić

Raven, Bear, Frog Choir: Igor Jurinić

Hedgehog, Lionfish, Mole, Frog ChoirMelody Martišković

Fox, Shrew, Frog ChoirRužica Maurus

Musicians: Vanda Đanić, Đive Franetović Kušelj, Karmen Pervitić, Denis Ajduković, Stijepo Medo, Matija Novaković


Sunčana Škrinjarić's The Enchanted  Forest is a novel that marked an entire generation, and it continues to do so with through its topics which are always relevant. The novel was first published in 1985 under the title Painter in the Forest, and a year later the first Croatian feature-length cartoon was based on it and given its current title. It is still considered one of the most popular cartoons in the territory of the former Yugoslavia.

We are introduced to the wondrous forest expanse by a young painter who, fleeing from his own thoughts, encounters a completely different order than the one we are used to and who invites our imagination to freely travel together with him. The wide range of animal characters that the painter meets on his way are distinguished by traits that we can easily recognize as human, and through their backstories the very important and layered ecological domain of the novel itself is slowly unveiled – the ever-present idea of community, cooperation and care for the environment, as well as the weight of loneliness that is the main cause of the Cactus Emperor's ill will.

But what is so enchanted and enchanting about the forest? Talking animals, an ancient prophecy describing how man will overthrow the Cactus Emperor, or the one very wayward paintbrush? All of the above, but also so much more. The musical-theatre piece brings to the fore a thought that, perhaps now more than ever, we need to hear – nature is a place that unites, promotes diversity and brings us back in touch with ourselves, thus enabling us to be in harmony with everyone around us. That is why it is so important to remind ourselves that we are the ones who can preserve its enchantment.


Nikolina Rafaj



Photo (c) Marko Ercegović