Ulysses theatre

Mission & Vision

“I set foot on this island and wandered around the amazing fortress which promised unbelievable theatrical beauty. Each wall a memory, each tree a hope. I endeavour to restore the energy connecting overflowing rivers and ruined shores. I’m starting this theatre so that new energies can get intertwined and young people can fortify the walls of this fortress of art with their creativity and vitality”.

Rade Šerbedžija, 2001


We want to create a space of creative collaboration where artists with different experiences and backgrounds, with different skills and talents can get together; a space in which they can explore and broaden their creative horizons, push the limits of their creativity, and convey ideas found in the works of both classical and contemporary authors.

We want to expand the range of our activities to include more international participants and partners and to expand our audience on national, regional and international levels.

We want to provide young people in Croatia and neighbouring countries with the opportunity to study and further their skills, to participate in our productions and other programmed events. We want to establish collaborations with universities by providing internships for students.

We want to create an international arts centre with year-round programme. We want to share our island of words, movements and music, our oasis of work and tranquillity by including different artistic projects and other activities which promote creativity, understanding and collaboration.

We rely on the creative energy of our long-time collaborators as well as new ones and prize the specific pulse of our unique performing sites. On this we base our aesthetics. It is not predetermined, it has no pre-established norms or rigid criteria – it is always driven by the artistic diversity of our members and the continuously inspirational ambiance of the island of Mali Brijun and the Fort Minor.

How it all began... And continued.

“…And all the others, with their skills and yearnings, have woven the fragrance of their souls into the threshold of a new theatre whose roof is the open sky and whose stage is Prospero’s garden where the flowers of evil don’t thrive.”

Borislav Vujčić, 2001


Ulysses Theatre was founded by actor-director Rade Šerbedžija and writer Borislav Vujčić.

It was inaugurated in 2001 by the renowned British film and stage actress Vanessa Redgrave at a charity concert featuring the Mostar Sinfonietta.

The first production was Shakespeare’s King Lear, directed by Lenka Udovički, with Rade Šerbedžija in the eponymous role. A small production team lead by Tatjana Aćimović embarked upon the challenge of giving shape to a dreamlike idea of a theatre on an uninhabited island, unaware of the fact that this production would achieve cult status among the audience and continue to be performed year after year, turning what started as an experiment into an annual summer festival with an increasing number of productions and cultural events.

King Lear is still performed, using a number of locations within the Austro-Hungarian coastal fortress of Fort Minor on the Island of Mali Brijun as natural stage scenery. For over a decade it has captivated audiences from around the world and gathered artists from Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Great Britain, the USA and Georgia.

King Lear has set in stone the omnipresent musical spirit of Ulysses productions: Mostar Sinfonietta has frequently collaborated with us, and on several productions we have worked with the vocal ensemble Putokazi from Rijeka.

In 2002 Duško Ljuština has taken a role of a producer, and today he is the Executive Director of Ulysses Theatre. With his help the Theatre has expanded its repertoire and become a regional phenomenon.

Over the years Ulysses Theatre has developed a distinctive theatrical language, combining literary masterpieces, such as Euripides’ Medea starring Mira Furlan and Aleksandar Cvjetković in leading role in 2002 or Weiss’ Marat/Sade with Rade Šerbedžija and Zlatko Vitez in 2003 with the unique open air venue of former fortress, and theatrical union, after a long break, of artists from the region and inviting, each year new, inspirational artists from around the world.

Performance The Good Body in 2003, by American writer and feminist Eve Ensler, marked the first visiting performance with Ulysses acting as a host. The same year Deni Šesnić, a lighting designer, joined the Ulysses creative team.

In 2004, four acclaimed actors, Pero Kvrgić, Zijah Sokolović, Ivica Vidović and Rade Šerbedžija, performed together in a production of Play Beckett directed by Rade Šerbedžija. At the same time the world-renowned actresses Amanda Plummer, Caroline Jones, and Lynn and Vanessa Redgrave participated in the project Core Sample – Goli otok 1949-1956. In two different interpretations of Beckett’s opus, the artists explored the experiences of political opponents of the Yugoslav regime, incarcerated on Goli otok from 1949 until 1956. The artists and the crew working on the project visited the island and walked the four-kilometre long path from one side of the island to the other – from the prison for men to the one for women. Two former prisoners Beatrix Fixmann and Vera Winter joined Caroline John, Amanda Plummer, Lynn Redgrave and Vanessa Redgrave on their walk.

Our fifth season premiere title was Shakespeare’s Hamlet, with Goran Navojec and Lucija Šerbedžija playing Hamlet and Ophelia, yet 2005 will not be remembered by artistic achievements, but for the immense and irreplaceable loss. Only weeks before the start of the season, we said our last goodbye to Borislav Vujčić, one of the founders of Ulysses Theatre and dear friend. Still, even though he is not among us, his calm, beautiful spirit is interwoven into the life and presence of our theatre.

Ulysses Theatre marked the 150th anniversary of the birth of Nikola Tesla in 2006 by producing Darko Lukić’s Tesla Electric Company, directed by Tomaž Pandur. The co-producer was theatre company Pandur Theaters, and it was the first premiere co-production of Ulysses with another theatre company.

The 2007 season was an homage to Miroslav Krleža. Forum Krleža Today brought together prominent Croatian scholars and Krleža enthusiasts whose papers were later published, thus making a valuable contribution to Krleža’s studies. In addition to this, three performances were part of the programme to pay tribute to Krleža’s work.
Darko Rundek and Rade Šerbedžija co-directed The Ballads of Petrica Kerempuh. Rade Šerbedžija restaged My Reckoning With Them, a monodrama, last staged in 1990, which had developed cult status and has been performed by Rade Šerbedžija over 2000 times.
The main production of the season was the award winning The Drunken Night 1918. Krleža’s famous short story about the unification of the South Slavs was adapted for the stage by writer Ivo Štivičić, in collaboration with Tena Štivičić. While Ivo Štivičić had frequently adapted Krleža’s work for television, this was his first attempt at writing for the stage, and proved to be highly successful. The performance was part of our programme for four years, featuring Josipa Lisac. Set design was created by long-term Ulysses Theatre collaborator, Zlatko Kauzlarič Atač. The production won awards at the 41st BITEF and at the Small Scenes Theatre Festival in Rijeka.

In the 2008 season, alongside restaged productions, Ulysses Theatre produced two premiere titles: Albert Camus’ Caligula, directed by Tomaž Pandur, and Romeo and Juliet ’68, directed by Lenka Udovički. The latter marked the 40th anniversary of the events that took place in 1968, once again gathering an experienced creative team consisting of dramaturge Tena Štivičić, composer Nigel Osborne, costume designer Bjanka Adžić Ursulov and sound designer Davor Rocco. This production also included members of Poor Dog Group, a theatre company from the USA, and was performed in both Croatian and English.

After Đorđe Balašević inaugurated the 9th season with his concert, Ulysses Theatre invited acclaimed director Paolo Magelli to stage Molière’s Don Juan, with Rakan Rushaidat in the lead role.

Ulysses Theatre’s 10th anniversary season was opened by ODYSSEY, a gala concert in the ancient Pula Arena, with various musicians and friends of the Theatre who over the years had either performed in Fort Minor or participated in our projects as musical guests.
The main production of the season was Shakespeare’s Tempest, directed by Lenka Udovički and starring Rade Šerbedžija as Prospero. Award-winning choreographer Staša Zurovac joined the creative team, who has been our frequent collaborator since.

In the 2011 season Ulysses Theatre staged Cabaret Brecht – The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, directed by Lenka Udovički, with Ozren Grabarić in the lead role. A collaboration with the LA-based Petrojvic Blasting Company, who performed live at the festival, was also established.

In the year 2012, a year extremely rich in arts and cultural events, Ulysses Theatre presented two productions: Goran Stefanovski’s Odysseus directed by Aleksandar Popovski, and Lenka Udovički’s new directorial achievement The Deceased, written by Branislav Nušić. One of the lead roles in the latter production was played by famous actress Jelisaveta Seka Sablić, joined by Zijah Sokolović, an actor already known to Ulysses’ audience. The season was further enhanced by concerts (Rade Šerbedžija, Vlatko Stefanovski, Miroslav Tadić, the Teofilović brothers, Rundek Cargo trio and Urban & 4;), exhibitions (Europe between documents and fiction, Eros and Thanatos by Zlatko Kauzlarić Atač and Stjepan Gračan), visiting performances (N. V. Gogol: Diary of a Madman a Deutsches Theater acclaimed actor Samuel Finzi) and music therapy Summer Camp workshops.

The 2013 season was marked by Ivo Štivičić’s return to the dramatic writing, which led to the creation of  Shakespeare at the Kremlin, directed by Lenka Udovički. Ozren Grabarić took the role of Lavrentius Beri, alongside the actors of the Serbian National Theatre in Novi Sad, which stood as a co-producer on this project. In addition to the premiere, there were two musical performances at the Fortress Minor that year: the season was opened by Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra and the Salsa Filarmonica concert, and Amira Medunjanin performed Sevdah in the Heart of Europe. Besides that, the Island of Veliki Brijun hosted a night of poetry called Sublit Café.

In the 2014 season, our longtime collaborator Staša Zurovac took over the role of both the director and choreographer in the theatre adaptation of Krleža’s prosaic piece Funeral in Theresienburg. This performance was led by Ozren Grabarić, Dražen Čuček and Vanda Winter, alongside the solo dancers from Croatian National Theatre Ballet in Split. The second premiere of that year was Biljana Srbljanović’s drama This Grave is Too Small for Me, and the director of this co-production venture was Dino Mustafić.

The jubilee 15th season was enriched with a wide variety of content. The premiere performance was Antigone – 2000 years later. Alongside Rade Šerbedžija in the role of Creon, the actors of the Sarajevo MESS Theatre performed, as well as the Acting and Media students from Rijeka. The second premiere was Borna Vujčić’s play The Stamp. In the production, Goran Grgić was accompanied by Silvio Mumelaš and Katarina Strahinić, still students at the time. The play was directed by Lea Anastazija Fleger, also a student at the time of the premiere. This season was marked by various musical events, starting with the grand opening concert for to mark the beginning of the 15th season, followed by concerts of Damir Urban and Amira Medunjanin. The rich music and theatre programme was enriched with four visiting performances: The Broken Jug, Kostana, Diary of a Madman and Actor  … is an actor … is an actor.

In the 16th season, Lenka Udovički set the show without being limited to the area of ​​the Fortress Minor –in Shakespeare Summer Nights – Variations, the audience had the opportunity to see the young actors from Rijeka playing at various locations on the Island of Mali Brijun.
The same year Ulysses hosted the first in a series of plays by Croatian National Theatre Zagreb, Three Winters. The season was especially marked by the visiting performance of the British Almeida Theatre, whose cult performance Richard III gave the Brijuni audience an opportunity to watch the acclaimed actors Ralph Fiennes and Vanessa Redgrave.

The 2017 premiere title was Breakfast of the Champion directed by Aleksandar Švabić, with Slavko Štimac in the lead role, with the co-producer being BITEF Theatre from Belgrade. Zijah Sokolović also performed his solo-show The Bear on the Island of Veliki Brijun, in addition to Actor..is an actor.., and a screening of the film Every Good Story is a Love Story by Rajko Grlić and Matjaž Ivanišin in the Summer Cinema. The season was closed by the visiting performance of the Croatian National Theatre of Zagreb and their performance Men of Wax.

The 17th season was the first season we had to accomplish without the irreplaceable help of our producer Boris Geršak, who sadly left us at the beginning of that year. The season was kept at the professional level, but more than that is was a sentimental torment to continue sailing without him. A year later, we lost our frequent actor and guest – Nebojša Glogovac. As Ulysses grows older, it is facing the irreversible departure of those without which our theatre would not exist.

In the 2018 season, Lenka Udovički put on stage Euripides’ The Bacchae with a completely female cast. We also hosted a dance performance Rollercoaster by Katarina Đurđević, produced by the Zagreb Dance Centre. Croatian National Theatre Zagreb continued the cooperation with Ulysses by bringing their performance Gypsy, But the Most Beautiful.

Regarding the future, Ulysses intends to continue developing the way it did since its start: driven by the unstoppable passion for good theatre, music and with the aim of gathering talented artists from all over the World.


PR office, Ulysses Theatre
Kristijan Vučković and Ulysses Theatre Archive