About the event

​Summer Scriptwriting Base is a unique combination of educational forum, creative experience, and rural retreat. It takes place in the beautiful and authentic village of Bozhentsi, in Bulgaria’s mountains.

SSB is ten days of intensive learning, creating, sharing, and experiencing. You will get a deep understanding and know-how on such exciting and cutting-edge topics as immersive experiences, real life game design, site-specific and immersive theatre, interactive narratives, urban games, and pervasive games led by an international team of established professionals.

It is destined to creative minds, theatre and cinema-makers, game designers, creative writers, choreographers, hackers. In order to have the best possible experience, the number of participants is limited to twenty.

Shangri-La is a fictional place described in the novel “Lost Horizon” by James Hilton. It became synonymous of an earthly paradise hidden in a mountain and isolated from the rest of the world. The 2019 edition of the Summer Scriptwriting Base will transform the village of Bozhentsi into Shangri-La. The SSB participants will explore their childhood dreams and fantasies and will merge them with the settings of Bozhentsi and its history.


“And then, in the midst of the still-encompassing dream, he felt himself master of Shangri-La. These were his beloved things, all around him, the things of that inner mind in which he lived increasingly, away from the fret of the world. “

― James Hilton, Lost Horizon




​Summer Scriptwriting Base edition 2019 is now over. Great thanks to everyone who participated in this exciting creative journey! We manage to transform the village of Bozhentsi into a real Shangri-La where dreams come true.

Participants:Lorina Kamburova, Cheri Allcock, Petr Salaba, Daniel Roy, Diana Monova, Milin Djalaliev, Maria (Masha) Kapustina, Rhianna Ilube, Desislava Ilieva, Leung Wai Chun, Maartje Wegdam, Nina Bassett, Natalia Skoczylas, Vasil Spasov, Kamelia Miteva, Vasil Vasilev, Ludmila Dragulova, Anda Cadariu, Kalina Lukanova, Elisa Tokeva
Mentors and Speakers:Hartmut Koenitz, Ursula Maria Berzborn, William Drew, Simon Hanukai, Tassos Stevens, Aron Birtalan
Organisers and Volunteers:Dimitar Uzunov, Katerina Stoyanova, Ralitsa Assenova, Yoanna Ducheva, Alexandrina Djassem, Elena Gamalova, Sara Coll, Bianca Almeida, Georgi Uzunov, Hugo Almeida
Beloved cooks:Osama and Noor Hatib and their lovely children
​Happy dogs:Yola and Molly


31.07 // Wed


SSB Shangri-La Opening

01.08 // Thu

Sofia / Bozhentsi

10:00 – 13:00
“Interactive Narrative Design”

Departure to Bozhentsi

Check-in Bozhentsi

02.08 // Fri


09:00 – 13:00
“Site-Specific Theatre in Public Space” #1

15:00 – 17:30
“Site-Specific Theatre in Public Space” #2

18:00 – 21:00
“Play in Public Space”

03.08 // Sat


09:00 – 13:00
“Site-Specific Theatre in Public Space” #3

15:00 – 20:00
“Site-Specific Theatre in Public Space” #4

04.08 // Sun


09:00 – 13:00
“Immersive Experiences” #1

15:00 – 20:00
“Immersive Experiences” #2

18:00 – 21:00
“(A Secret About) Making Play in Public”

05.08 // Mon


09:00 – 13:00
“Immersive Experiences” #3

15:00 – 20:00
“Immersive Experiences” #4

06.08 // Tue


Day off

07.08 // Wed


09:00 – 13:00
“Transformation Games” #1

15:00 – 20:00
“Transformation Games” #2

08.08 // Thu


09:00 – 13:00
“Transformation Games” #3

15:00 – 20:00
“Transformation Games” #4

09.08 // Fri


09:00 – 13:00
Workshop wrap-ups

15:00 – 17:00
Workshop wrap-ups

18:00 – 22:30
Shangri-La Fest 2019

10.08 // Sat


10:00 – 22:30
Shangri-La Fest 2019

11.08 // Sun

Departure to Sofia


Opening ​

French Institute – Sofia
​31.07.2019 19:00-21:00


Lecture by Hartmut Koenitz

French Institute – Sofia
01.08.2019 10:00-13:00

Interactive narrative is an extension of age-old narrative forms and interactivity. Or is it? In his talk, Hartmut Koenitz will make the argument that successful interactive narrative design requires a radical re-thinking that puts interactivity first and overcomes established paradigms. It means that we are no longer authors, but designers creating interactive experiences for audiences who are participants and no longer viewers or readers. And this move does mean that we open up an exciting new design space, a new frontier for human expression. And from this new vantage point, we can learn from prior examples in areas such as game design, interactive theater, but also ancient storytellers who adjusted their tales to audiences long before digital interactivity came into play.


Workshop by Ursula Maria Berzborn

02 & 03.08.2019

This 2-days workshop will give an insight into the methods of creation of site specific performance work. In a short theoretical introduction Ursula Maria Berzborn will present – with examples of productions of Grotest Maru – different artistic approaches and technics of this specific theatre form.

In four following sessions the participants will experience practical aspects and will be guided to get an individual entrance into this artistic discipline.

We will explore the public spaces of the village Bozhentsi, it’s various spacious possibilities, corners, small squares, streets, meadows and bridges, and take the architecture and landscape of the site as field of experimentation.

Exercises of body and physical relations in space will create a new awareness for the theatrical quality of everyday life sites. Besides the corporal existence we will as well learn about content related site specific approaches: How can we work with stories from local narrations? How can we integrate history into actual, contemporary theatre work? How can we generate artistic meaning through research about a location? Which associations can a site awake and how to take this into an artistic process? We will bring walls alive, let stones speak and connect site specific content and stories with aspects of architecture and landscape to create a unique performative intervention into the public space, rural or urban. We will open a new view on Bozhentsi, as a laboratory for site specific theatre work.


Lecture by William Drew

02.08.2019 18:00-21:00

In English Play is a word that identify both ludic activities and performances (acting, producing music, etc). In the last years this semantic overlapping is a rich place for exploration and creation of new format and experiences. During this talk we will explore what play means in public spaces, which kind of strategies we can design to create something both ephemeral and transformative, how to engage passerby, how to design site-specific games. The talk will be held in collaboration with Trust in Play, the European School of Urban Game Design.


Workshop by Tassos Stevens representing Coney

03.08.2019 18:00-21:00

​Coney makes all kinds of play to spark change, happening wherever people connect and gather. The Guardian calls them: “The future of British theatre”.
This workshop shares some of Coney practice and philosophy – and a secret! – to make play in public and community, responsive to site and context, accessible for people of all backgrounds. Projects discussed might include: Adventure One – an adventure in a secret location in the financial district of London; We The People (Of This Place) – a celebration of place remade for and with different communities across the UK; A Lovely Intervention – a collaboration with a probation service, making bespoke interventions for positive change. @agencyofconey


Workshop by Simón Adinia Hanukai

04 & 06.08.2019

Immersive experiences, which have recently been taking the world by storm, take the audience out of their seats and place them at the center of the playing space. They transform the passive role of the spectator, into that of spect-actor and co-creator who is essential to the action and narrative of the performance. Immersive experiences challenge traditional performance methods and call for a new, more holistic, approach to storytelling. After receiving a crash course in the techniques, participants will create and present original immersive experiences, in order to experiment with this interactive form.


Lecture by Mirko Stojkovic

06.08.2019 18:00-21:00

If you want to climb a ladder in the big TV or film studio by blindly following producer’s instructions, if you aspire to become a darling of mainstream critics by playing safe and sucking up to them, if you want to become a superstar and completely sell out everything you believe in – you will be terribly disappointed in this talk because this one is about pervasive games and how to make people play ’em.


Workshop by Aron Birtalan

07 & 08.08.2019

In this workshop, we’ll be engaging in a practice to re-imagine and transform the world around by playing together. Rather than starting off with a concept, we will focus on attention, sensation, and presence in order to create a space in which narratives and stories may unfold. Practically this will entail us exploring different techniques of co-creative world-building and eventually creating our own playful experience in real life, on location.
Taking notes from live action role-playing, rituals, group exercises in movement, listening, and communication we hope to understand fiction not as a means escape from reality, but as a device through which we can recalibrate reality – and ultimately ourselves. At times this will be very serious, but mostly very silly.


09 & 10.08.2019

Our traditional festival with which we close the Summer Scriptwriting Base this year grows up! Two days of performances, concerts, games, workshops, nice food, beer, parties…

Speakers & Mentors

Hartmut Koenitz


Hartmut Koenitz is Professor for Interactive Narrative Design at HKU, where he leads a research group on the topic. Hartmut is also the founding chair of the board of ARDIN (Association for Research in Digital Interactive Narratives). He has also founded a industry-focused meet up on narrative design in the Netherlands. He holds a PhD from the Georgia Institute of Technology on the theory and practice of Interactive Digital Narrative. Hartmut’s research interests are at the intersection of art, culture, history, and technology. Hartmut is also a visual artist, and his works have been shown in Atlanta, Paris, Istanbul, Seoul, Copenhagen and Porto. His latest artwork, The Multiple Lives of Walter B. is a physical installation that explores virtual biographies of Walter Benjamin.

Ursula Maria Berzborn


Ursula Maria Berzborn is a theatre director, performance artist, costume and set designer, who lives in Berlin since 1987 and made her Master of the Arts 1994 at HdK, Berlin, after exchange-studies in London and Amsterdam. She is a co-founder of Kunsthaus KuLe, in Berlin, that was created in 1990, shortly after the fall of the wall, as a venue for life and art. In 1996 she founded Theater Grotest Maru, with which she toured world wide and created numerous site specific productions in public space in cooperation with festivals, guest performers and other artists groups, always trying to reach an audience, that normally has no access to the arts.
She works as a curator, teaches at different universities and gives workshops for site specific performance in public space. Since 2006 she is a board member of the German Association for Theatre in Public Space.

Matteo Uguzzoni


Matteo Uguzzoni is an architect and a game designer, his practice focus on creating transformative experience blending real life game and theater. He co-founded Urban Games Factory an Italian collective active in different form since 2009. He is also the host of “The Playcast” a podcast about immersive theater, real life games and everything in between.


Tassos Stevens


Tassos Stevens is a maker frequently representing Coney company, and also its artistic director. He can wear hats in projects as a director, writer, game and interaction designer, wrangler, and ear. Other projects made for Coney include: A Small Town Anywhere, playing theatre based on the film Le Corbeau; A Game Of Legacy, made for by and with jedi master of play Bernie De Koven; Nightmare High, a BAFTA-winning commission for Channel 4 Education. Outside of Coney he makes storytelling performance including Jimmy Stewart, An Anthropologist From Mars, Analyses Love & Happiness In Humans (And Rabbits) performed in living rooms and other informal settings all over the world.


Simón Adinia Hanukai


Simón Adinia Hanukai is a theatre maker, director, educator, and co-artistic director of Kaimera Productions who splits his time between New York and Paris. Originally from Baku, Azerbaijan, he started his career in Oakland, California, where he was a founding member of headRush Crew and the co-artistic director of the Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company. The original full-length dance theater pieces that he created with both companies over the course of six years were toured nationally, and were seen by over 25,000 people per year. Since launching Kaimera Productions, Simón has created work and taught extensively throughout the U.S., Middle East, South Asia and Europe. Recent directing and devising credits include Les Alibis (Junevents Festival, Atelier De Paris, France), JUPITER (A Play About Power) (La MaMa E.T.C., NYC), Decline & Fall (Tricklock Performance Lab, New Mexico) and Flying Ace and The Storm of the Century (Odin Teatret, Denmark).

Áron Birtalan


Áron Birtalan  is a Hungarian artist based in Amsterdam. In his practice, he facilitates playful experiences in real life that allow players to re-imagine the world around them. Through his work, Áron encourages people to tap into a territory, where art, games, and magic mingle. His work draws upon the history of transformation through playing, and as a whole, playfulness’ role in society. He is also active as a musician and co-runs a three-week children’s fantasy camp in rural Hungary.





​SSB Shangri-La will take place in the village of Bozhentsi in central northern Bulgaria. According to the legend, the young noble Bozhana settled here in the XVI century and later the village was named after her. The noble’s sons engaged in trade and the village gradually grew to become an important trade junction during the National Revival towards the middle of the XVIII century.

Bozhentsi is noted for its well-preserved Bulgarian traditional architecture and history. It was proclaimed an architectural and historical reserve in 1964. Due to this, there is a ban on the construction of any buildings that do not fit with the village’s style. Today, the permanent population of Bozhentsi is only 41 people.

As the settlers during the Ottoman period were mostly wealthy people, many of the houses have two floors, the first being used as a cattle-shed and the second being inhabited by the owners. Characteristic features of the Bozhentsi architecture are the verandas, the stone-plate roofs, the corner fireplaces and the ceiling woodcarvings. The pavement of the streets in the village is only cobblestone.

The participants will be housed in traditional XVIII and XIX century houses full of authentic charm and coziness.

The SSB will transform Bozhentsi into “Shangri-La”, a magical world where participants’ dreams and childhood fantasies will merge with the settings and the history of the village.




The capital of Bulgaria and it’s biggest city with about 1.7 million citizens. Today, Sofia is a dynamic Eastern European city, distinguished by its unique combination of European. Ottoman and Communist-style architecture as well as many beautiful orthodox churches. Furthermore, it claims to be one of the few European capitals with beautiful scenery and a developed ski-resort so close to it – the Vitosha mountain. Sofia is often called “New Berlin” because of its cool spirit and affordability and it saw its popularity among tourists and expats growing tremendously last few years.

Sofia airport is situated very close to the city and is deserved by many air companies including low-costs (Wizzair, Ryanair, Easyjet) which makes it perfect gathering point for international events like the SSB.

The opening and the first lecture of the SSB Shangri-La will take place in Sofia.



Check our gallery here.