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‘New Reading of Fairy Tales’ – Revealing Hidden Stereotypes and Prejudices in Fairy Tales

‘The general impression is that we have known each other for a long time, because we quickly developed an important relationship of trust at the workshops. It was intense, fun, creative and we certainly learned a lot from each other’ – this is how the writer Lamija Begagić describes the creative reading and writing workshops ‘New Reading of Fairy Tales’ which she held, together with the writer Bojan Krivokapić, in the Cultural Centre of Novi Sad and the Digital Youth Centre at the City Library from 18 to 22 October.

‘The whole process, after meeting a group of children made up of boys and girls aged 9 to 12, was that we talked about everyday situations in an attempt to detect gender stereotypes and social expectations that are placed before girls and boys. Later, we would try to deconstruct these situations in a way that we would reverse the roles, put our heroines and heroes in new roles and watch how they manage there. The idea of the whole process was to identify places that are ‘problematic’ and ‘fix’ them,’ Lamija said.

Through the workshops, Bojan and Lamija had a task to draw children’s attention to all kinds of gender, class, racial stereotypes and prejudices, as well as elements of violence, and, through joint work and writing new texts, to come up with fairy tales that will be gender correct, inclusive, fair, witty, understandable and receptive to age.

In this creative process, the children naturally managed, showing how free and open they are, and how easily they recognize social pranks, which was, as Lamija states, extremely encouraging.

‘The positions of princesses and princes, where they are located within the framework of gender expectations, are not natural, and therefore they easily managed to recognize and replace them with more inclusive frameworks,’ the writer states and adds:

‘The result of the whole process is not only a meaningful and productive four days and exchange of creative energies, but also the development of a platform for further cooperation. The methodology we came up with at the workshop could be applied in working with children, from kindergarten to adolescence, and a combination of drama, debate and encouraging critical thinking and creative writing could contribute to gender-inclusive education and literature reading.’

Lamija Begagić writes for children and adults. She is also the editor of the children’s magazines Kolibrić, Palčić and 5Plus. She edited the literary web magazine Omnibus and the Literary Journal. At the competition ‘Ekran priče_02’ implemented by Zagreb’s ‘Naklada MD’ and ‘Iskon internet’, she won the first prize for the story Twenty-seven, among 1,209 candidates. The ‘I Will Learn To Knit One Day’ story was published in the collection of Poqueeren’s stories.

Bojan Krivokapić published a book of short prose ‘Run Lilith’, a collection of poetry Žoharov Let, a novel Proleće Se Na Put Sprema and a collection of poems Gnezdo Dečaka. He has won awards for prose: Ulaznica (Zrenjanin, 2011), Đura Đukanov (Kikinda, 2012) and Edo Budiša (Pazin, 2014), as well as the Mak Dizdar Award for his poetry collection (Stolac, 2013). For the ‘Proleće Se Na Put Sprema’ novel in 2018, he received the Mirko Kovač Award for the best work of a young author in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Montenegro.

The result of these workshops will be the production of two new plays for children, through a critical treatment of traditional fairy tales. The plays will have their premiere in May 2022 within the ‘Future of Europe’ programme arch, whose goal is to encourage and involve children and young people in creating a better future for Europe, through culture and art. They, as a basis for a better future of Europe, are encouraged to think critically, but also to actively participate in social issues. This

programme arch will bring many artists from 21 countries to the European Capital of Culture, and will prepare more than 400 interesting events for you. The project is being implemented as a co-production of the ‘Novi Sad – European Capital of Culture’ Foundation, Rumenka Cultural Centre, ‘Mišolovka’ and the ‘Drž ‘ne daj’ theatre ensembles and Kulturanova Association .

Photo: Marko Pudić

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