BAJA BUF (0-2)
Concept: Sanja and Till Frühwald
Performance: Sanja Frühwald, Till Frühwald, Asher O’Gorman, Raphael Nicholas
Music: Damir Šimunović
Set design and costumes: VRUM
Graphic design: Dinko Uglešić
Production: VRUM and Špancirfest / Kreativfest
a ‘happening’ for babies and their grown-ups
What is ‘Baja Buf’?
‘Baja Buf’ is an event, a play and a game. It has been created for and with eight babies between 12 and 18 months and four performers. It takes place
in a large soft tent providing a safe and calm environment.
‘Baja Buf’ is a celebration – a celebration of innocent life!
The young audience and their parents / familial elderly people have been invited to a neutral space, free from toys and other distractions. The
performers follow and emphasize a child’s spontaneous activity in the centre of the dedicated area, while the adults observe, standing on the edges
of the playground area.
What happens when a baby between 12 and 20 months is given full freedom of a safe space, with a person who follows and reflects his/her every
move, sound and mood?
Children are free to choose when and how they want to participate, and the adults should fully respect their decisions.
Each session lasts about 45 minutes. Parents / guardians stay inside the space, but the children know it’s really them ‘steering the wheel’ alone.
Through the prompting of their own motion, the babies interact with the performers, and this unpredictable playful dialogue of free expression goes
on between adults, babies and performers alike, building confidence and enabling children, even the shiest ones, to lead the game and engage in the
‘discourse’. This in turn encourages the development of communication skills and movement, both large and small, in a simple, inventive and original
way – with the joint performance providing entertainment for all.
In ‘Baja Buf’ art meets welfare and initiative enabling the development of communication skills nascent in babies.
The experience of ‘bajabufing’ is a unique first encounter with the non-verbal possibilities of communication and corporeal instincts, in a relaxed
ambience which can also be taken home!
Everyone present creates a new play every time, either by participating in or by bearing witness, and becomes connected through a new way of
observing, moving and communication.
With ‘Baja Buf’ the youngest visitors to the Špancirfest and their parents or familial elderly people can actively participate and find a programme
designed especially for them. In this way, they become active participants of this spectacular festival for all ages!
After intensive preliminary research, children between 12 and 20 months have been selected as the ideal age range, because they are mobile (either
crawl or walk) and are about to begin to speak.
Games function well within this age group because children of this age have a natural desire for spontaneous, free movement, investigating the space
they find themselves in and the world around them, using their body as their primary means of communication.
Having completed the preparatory work the performers have become skilled and more sensitive, whilst babies of this age are especially motivated
This is the reason why the organizer of this event always keeps in mind the age limit when taking bookings for the ‘Baja Buf’.
The Story of Being Human
Choosing a medium to work in that can be enjoyed by young children requires this medium to be as simple, exposed and present as a straight line –
and yet simultaneously complex and varied. To ensure time and space are not stretched to breaking point, this is especially vital when small children
are involved. We aren’t here to fill them up as if they were empty vases; rather, we are here to light the fire – their joy at being alive.
Just like adults, children want to share with us everything about love, loneliness, day and night. The sun and the stars, shadows, fears and the moon.
Beauty and the wind. The themes of a poet.
To escort small children into the theatre is to risk meeting the unpredictable: not knowing what one should do, or being surprised by a child’s
reactions. This is what it is to be an adult, but one who hasn’t planned for everything or who would like to control the situation: is instead we are
caught up in the present and the experience.
The door opens and we walk into a new room, a room where things have been placed. Maybe it’s dark in there – maybe music is playing. The moment
we walk into the room, our senses, intuition and thoughts go into overdrive, letting us know if we should stay or if we should leave!
Babies lie in our arms and register that which I have just described directly through us.
The performance has not yet begun, and already our bodies and our subconscious have begun to react very precisely and to influence us internally.
Let’s imagine that we are now sitting, waiting expectantly.
The Tyranny of Expectations
We enter the performance space because we are searching for something; otherwise we’d simply stay at home. We want to have this experience.
The child can sense when the adults are doing okay – when they are inquisitive, open and stimulated. As for the child, he or she has been forced into
the room – no-one has asked them what they want, and the child can’t answer anyway. This is a big responsibility for the adults, who can’t allow
themselves to be passive or disinterested, yet at the same time expect the opposite of the child. It is necessary to share the experience with the
children, to create a resonance of feeling, to promote solidarity and allow ones self to be affected by what is happening here and now in the space.
This might mean that the adults are forced to let go of their expectations and give in to the sense of intimacy, the unconscious, the basic urges that
connect us all – what is sometimes called ‘That there is’.
Gyldendal’s Dictionary of Foreign Words describes resonance as ‘a strengthening of sound by echoes or corresponding vibrations; that is, a vibrating
body generating similar vibrations in another body, response or understanding.’
‘That there is’ is a connection with the child that lies deep inside of all of us – and which will remain there right up until our death. A performance that
makes ‘that there is’ visible is meaningful for the baby, for the child and for the adult. It is a universal connection.
To write for the small is no easy task: one must go directly to the essence. Babies have a very subtle understanding of a pre-verbal language. Children
utilise their senses; they notice and are affected by their physical needs and feelings and react accordingly. Speech and thought processes come later.
It is our job to fearlessly embrace the variety of expressions, unconnected or nonsensical words/ sounds, words that become music, rhythm,
movement and synchronicity. We should hold up a mirror to their insatiable research and offer emotions, poetry, aesthetics and close company.
The Abstract World of the Baby
In his book, ‘The Interpersonal World of the Infant’ Daniel Stern writes of how a baby experiences the world around him or her in the same way as an
adult experiences abstract dance and music. A baby absorbs colours and shapes. It is aware of a number of abstract qualities: form, quantity, levels of
intensity, curvature, symmetry, complexity and configurations. The baby notes the synchronicity between its own movements and those of others.
The baby’s developmental task is to create a broad and tight-knit cohesive bond with other living beings. The child experiences how rich the everyday
world really is. Many events occur simultaneously – a polyphony in complete harmony. The child makes note of the regularity of the course of events
and delights in the repetition that mixes the recognizable in with the new elements. In this way the baby gradually broadens its horizons.
‘The internal, subjective domain lies outside of consciousness and cannot be verbalised. It is present under circumstances like contemplative states,
emotional states and in the perception of specific artworks, which are calculated to awaken emotions in opposition to verbal categorisation.’
Artists and Small Children Share the Same Language
Even before language develops, we ‘talk’ with our bodies, for example through movement, facial expressions, sounds and energy: through our
actions and through that which we create. All of us constantly want to say something. Artists are to an extreme degree plagued by the need to
express themselves and to say something meaningful. The majority of artistic expression is wordless. Babies and small children have a very subtle
understanding, in that they have not yet developed their mental and verbal understanding.
That is to say, that artists and small children share the same language.
It is a language that we as adults must rediscover; a language of sounds, words, movements, shapes and rhythms. We are obliged to push at that
which we believe is right – to disrupt the naked truth, to place a question mark next to our adult viewpoint, to be open to unexpected acts – without
the need to explain or indulge in logical or intellectual answers.
In other words, we must put ourselves in a vulnerable position where we voluntarily devote ourselves to complex connections and puzzles; where we
dive deep beneath our conscious comprehension of the world to uncover a poetic universe that can open new ways of understanding.
Children can bring us adults back to the essence of being human.