I joined TRY theatre back in 2012, then left for a brief period and finally rejoined last year. I really enjoy acting at TRY theatre and I think it's a great way to connect with friends, practice your English and do lots of fun activities. I feel like there are lots and lots of good times in front of me, and I can't wait for next year to start. Peace out!

- Juraj Kolmanić

WHY TRY?

The Rijeka Youth Theatre is the first international drama school for children and youth in Croatia. Working in classes of 8-10 students, the focus is placed on each individual allowing them to discover and materialize their talents. Our curriculum encourages the development of creativity and confidence by exploring different modes of expression. The ability to publicly perform in English is an essential trait in modern society and a gateway to international careers.

WHY YOUTH?

With their identities not yet fully formed, children are in an excellent position to explore the manifold viewpoints on life that the dramatic art presents. Our approach purposefully guides students through a selection of roles and scenes catered for their individual talents and systematically develops their understanding of acting and its foundation—life. Typically the challenge with children is teaching that people do not do acting, rather, acting is presenting what other people do. Making sure that the young student grasps this is very rewarding for the teacher and an excellent indication of the student’s future success.


WHY ACTING?

Beyond the superficial representation of acting- and the fame associated with actors- in media worldwide, acting is an unparalleled tool in developing children’s psychology and inducing a comprehensive understanding of life. Children are asked to not only see everyday situations from multiple perspectives, but to assume different roles and live them out. Being “in someone else’s skin,” if only for a little while, broadens a person’s understanding of various situations and positions thus encouraging empathy and open-mindedness as his or his individual personality develops.

WHY ENGLISH?

In an increasingly unified world, English is the primary language of social interaction. Learning how to publicly perform in English at an early age empowers children to proactively step into the future and assume the role that is destined for them. It introduces practical, idiomatic English to all students, leading them to them feel confident when addressing international audiences. Additionally, this knowledge serves as a foundation for potential opportunities and careers around the world.


 

I have been a TRY student for 5 years. When I first joined it in 2010, pressured by my English teacher, I thought it would be a regular boring drama class with overly dramatic people forcing you to do something you feel uncomfortable with. I was very happy when I saw for myself that TRY is exactly the opposite: a fun after curricular activity with cool people doing something they enjoy.

-Enea Dessardo

TRY theatre Staff


Coming from a variety of continents, backgrounds and ages, the TRY theatre teaching staff is joined by the sacred mission of stuffing innocent children with tons of uncut drama. Selected on the basis of their ability to read the plays in children and turn them into workshops, these are the regular teachers and guest lecturers that make TRY theatre worth the try.

IVAN VERUNICA

Co-founder & Director

Email Ivan: ivan@trytheatre.org


A native of Croatia, Ivan finished high school in the United States before completing his undergraduate studies (English and Acting) at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia and his Master’s degree (Directing and Dramaturgy) at the University of Glasgow in Scotland.

After working in the theatre around Great Britain as a freelance actor and director, Ivan took a job in the public sector, combining it with his passions: travel and playwriting. After extensively travelling around Europe and South America, he worked in New York City for a year before moving back to Croatia to start TRY theatre.

At TRY theatre, Ivan has worked with hundreds of children and wrote and directed several full plays. “Without Hamlet” and “The Six Sisters” received international attention and several awards. Ivan absolutely loves his job and finds working with young actors invigorating.

He is married to Sierra Christianson-Verunica with whom he has two children.


MAJA STEVANOVIĆ

Director of Operations

Email Maja: try@trytheatre.org


Maja was born in Rijeka and currently studies International Business at the Faculty of Economics.

She joined TRY Theatre as a shy 13 year old, and starred in some of the original TRY plays like Without Hamlet and Clinicaly Same.

She now balances her life between economics and the arts – simoultaneously being a full time student and running a wedding photography studio with her boyfriend.

When she’s not learning about economics or photographing newlyweds, she loves to take fine art portraits and often collaborates with different designers, models and makeup artists to create whimsical portraits.

Maja’s position at TRY is relatively new but very exciting, and she can’t wait to start practicing her management skills in such a familiar and dear environment.

Mirela Džafić

Drama Teacher



Mirela was born and raised in Rijeka – the city that flows. Her educational journey started at the Faculty of Teacher Education in the field of Early and Preschool Education. To get a higher degree of education in the field of pedagogy, she attended the Faculty of Humanities and Social sciences. On an endless road of learning she was engaged in non-formal education and designing and conducting educational workshops for children and youth where she could let her creativity make magic.

When she’s not working with kids, she’s the voice behind the local student radio – Radio Sova, where she’s upgrading her communication skills and every-other-skill-that-a-journalist-needs-to-have. On top of all that, while she was studying she had a strong wish to work with children in English language in a creative environment, so you can say that life is giving her roses.

P.S., her secret TRY nickname is Džafa. Word on the street is that it’s because she’s the co-founder of Jaffa cakes. Psst!

Sara Lucasi

Visual Designer


Rijeka born, Sara Lucasi received her Master’s degree at the Rijeka Academy of Applied Arts and currently works as a painter.

She became more active as a visual designer for Try Theatre in 2018 and she loves being a part of a unique organization that assists young people to creatively express themselves. She enjoys immensely the company of creative people in environments prone to the development of ideas and inspiring works of art.

At present, in addition to painting, her life revolves around web and graphic design along with silk painting.

When she isn’t working or painting, she spends her time in studious seclusion, with friends and exploring nature and its wonders.

Sierra Christianson

Co-founder & Chief of Design


A native of Seattle, Washington, Sierra got her degree in applied design and international politics from New York University before traveling to Bolivia to volunteer with local NGOs. After traveling around South America, Sierra worked in New York City before moving to Croatia to co-found TRY theatre.

Having actively worked in the rehearsal room for a year and half, she decided to move into the field of design allowing her to spend more time with her children. Sierra has developed the TRY theatre website and works on costume design, set design and make-up.

Sierra is married to Ivan Verunica and is a mother to their children Zelen Tien and Zori Blu.

 

Sara Lucasi

Visual Designer


Rijeka born, Sara Lucasi received her Master’s degree at the Rijeka Academy of Applied Arts and currently works as a painter.

She became more active as a visual designer for Try Theatre in 2018 and she loves being a part of a unique organization that assists young people to creatively express themselves. She enjoys immensely the company of creative people in environments prone to the development of ideas and inspiring works of art.

At present, in addition to painting, her life revolves around web and graphic design along with silk painting.

When she isn’t working or painting, she spends her time in studious seclusion, with friends and exploring nature and its wonders.

Sierra Christianson

Co-founder & Chief of Design


A native of Seattle, Washington, Sierra got her degree in applied design and international politics from New York University before traveling to Bolivia to volunteer with local NGOs. After traveling around South America, Sierra worked in New York City before moving to Croatia to co-found TRY theatre.

Having actively worked in the rehearsal room for a year and half, she decided to move into the field of design allowing her to spend more time with her children. Sierra has developed the TRY theatre website and works on costume design, set design and make-up.

Sierra is married to Ivan Verunica and is a mother to their children Zelen Tien and Zori Blu.

Shana Bestock

Guest Lecturer


Shana is from Seattle, Washington, where she grew up working as a professional actor and has been directing for over 25 years.

Shana’s career includes work with many reputable theatres and she has helped to launch many continuing programs, including the School Partnership Program at the University of Chicago, Seattle Shakespeare Company’s Short Shakes educational program and drama programs at elementary and middle schools around the Pacific Northwest.

From 2001-2016 Shana served as Seattle Public Theater’s Artistic and Education Director, a position she founded and during which she saw oversaw the growth of the organization from amatuer obscurity to national professional artistic recognition and fiscal stability. Shana annually directed over ten productions with student ensembles and two mainstage productions.

She is currently the Producing Artistic Director of Penguin Productions, engaging, empowering, and creating artists. Through theater, Penguin Productions nurtures creativity, passion, and empathy.


ABOUT OUR PROCESS

As in any other profession, the most important thing for a young theatre professional is to get sound fundamental knowledge of the dramatic art.

Being an actor is a tough job. There are no machines, contraptions or technological inventions that can help you tackle a role or deliver a speech. The only thing an actor has is him/herself. The body, the voice, the mind. That is why it is extremely important to teach young actors the aspects of the dramatic art that make the difference between schooled actors and accidental actors. Our curriculum is thorough and comprehensive, focusing on three main categories:

The Body

Movement. Probably the subtlest part of an act, a performer’s movement can be the most natural or the most awkward element on the stage. From nervous pacing across the planks to the subtlest twitch of the eye, all movements need to be in tune with the play and perfectly logical considering the character’s state of mind. In order to achieve this, a young performer must be patient, focused and relaxed.

Body Control. Tom Cruise’s success with the trilogy Mission Impossible largely depended on his ability to move or stop his body with almost surgical precision and timeliness. Learning how to be in complete control of your bodily motions is a physical and mental process that can be trained through a series of relevant exercises.

Make-up, Costumes and Scenography. Getting ready for the show is sometimes more important than delivering the lines. Making sure that everybody and everything looks the part helps everybody to feel the part and have a great performance. Efficiently using make-up, wigs, costumes and the scene helps any production immensely and undeniably pushes the performers to act, move and speak in the desired way.

The Voice

Diction. There is an old maxim that says: “It is not WHAT you say; it is HOW you say it”, and this is particularly true of acting. Learning how to read, pronounce and interpret written words is one of the key qualities that a young performer must assume, and it is also very useful for any other future career or task. Each word is beautiful, and best dramatists know how to string them into wonderful plays. It is an actor’s duty to do these words justice and deliver them beautifully.

Singing. Singing, rhythm and musicality are all an integral part of the dramatic art. Actors are of course not professional singers, but they all need to feel comfortable singing – however badly – if the script asks them to do so. Although not a key part of the course, all performers are asked to participate in informal exercises.

Articulation. English is a specific language, especially for non-native speakers. There are many words that come from various sources, and it is sometimes difficult to know exactly how to articulate them. Working in a dynamic, non-classroom environment brings English to an everyday level where all words are pronounced fully and fluently.

The Mind

Understanding Texts and Characters. “Getting into the role” is the prerequisite for a successful performance, and in order for performers to “get into” their characters, they need to understand the role they are given. Looking for the best angle to approach a role and trying to get into someone else’s shoes and mind is the key to becoming a good actor who will be ready to assume a number of different roles.

Writing and Directing. All dramatic works begin with a pen and a piece of paper. Learning how to see things from multiple points of view, how to feel interpersonal and social dynamics, and developing an instinct for what people say or don’t say is just as valuable as interpreting and delivering it in the correct way. All participants are invited to develop their creativity and ideas by writing scenes of their own, then helping others to understand the meaning behind their work.

Improvisation. Not all theatre is scripted. Perhaps the most creative (and often most humorous) part of drama is improvisation – the celebration of the liveness and unpredictability of people on stage. Catching someone else’s drift and seeing where the atmosphere takes you can create powerful scenes and real drama, and we encourage young performers to develop their own style and art through non-scripted, instinctive art.