Tena Štivičić was born in Zagreb, Croatia.
In 2002, she graduated from the Academy of Drama Art, Department of Dramaturgy, Zagreb. The following year Tena moved to the United Kingdom and continued her studies at Goldsmiths College, University of London. After obtaining a Masters Degree, she was invited to Switzerland on a six-month writing residency in Canton Bern.
Tena’s first play was the award-winning Can't Escape Sundays. Written during her third year at the Academy, it was produced at Zagreb’s internationally renowned ZKM Theatre. Following numerous stage, radio productions and publications in various European countries, it remains one of her most produced plays to this day.
The Two of Us, the play she graduated from the Academy with, was first produced in 2003 at the legendary Atelje 212 Theatre, Belgrade. It was the first new Croatian play to be performed on a Belgrade stage since the break-up of Yugoslavia. This hit production won The Audience Award at the Marulićevi dani Festival in Split, Croatia, and the play received several other publications and productions, including one staged at the National Theatre in Zagreb.
Inspired by her first year living in London, Tena wrote the acclaimed play Fragile!. The play follows the lives of a group of entirely foreign and immigrant London residents, trying to make it in the metropolis. It was first produced at Mladinsko Gledališče in Slovenia, and was voted best production of the year, receiving critical acclaim around Europe.
Fragile! enjoyed further productions at London’s Arcola Theatre, on BBC Radio 4, and a number of stage and radio productions performed around Europe. It won numerous awards, including best European Play and Innovations Award at Heidelberg Stückemarkt in Germany in 2008.
As part of The 50 – a Royal Court Theatre and BBC initiative to mark the 50th anniversary of The Royal Court Theatre, Tena was nominated as one of the fifty most promising young writers in Great Britain.
Her next play, Fireflies, was developed at the National Theatre Studio and premiered at the ZKM Theatre. This award-winning production opened the Neue Stücke aus Europa festival in Wiesbaden in 2008. The play was produced in several countries and translated and published in a number of languages, including a publication in the reputable Theater Heute. Subsequently, Tena is currently the Croatian patron at Neue Stücke aus Europa Festival, Wiesbaden.
Over the years, she has taken part in several multi-national, multi-authored projects. Goldoni Terminus co-written with Rui Zink and Eduardo Erba for the 2007 Venice Biennale, celebrated the three hundredth anniversary of the birth of Carlo Goldoni. Seven Days in Zagreb was written for the European Theatre Convention project, The Orient Express, in 2009. In 2013, she co-wrote Europa, with Steve Waters, Malgorzata Sikorska Miszczuk and Lutz Hübner, produced by the Birmingham REP, ZKM, Teatr Polski and Dresden Staatstheater.
Her 2011 play, Invisible, commissioned by Transport and The New Wolsey Theatre, toured England in 2011 and 2012. A feature film screenplay inspired by the play is due to go into production with Good and George Films in 2014. Tena is also collaborating on the feature film, Postcard Killings, with the same company.
Her play Three Winters, tracing the journey of a Zagreb family across four generations and through the turbulent twentieth century Croatia opened to great critical acclaim at the National Theatre in London in 2014. It was directed by Howard Davies and won the prestigious Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for 2015.
A Slovenian production opened in April 2016., followed by a production at the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb. Three Winters in Zagreb, directed by Ivica Buljan, became an instant hit. In is the best selling production in the last two decades of the Croatian National Theatre.
Further productions are due, in Germany and the United States.
Her work as a dramaturg includes Closer by Patrick Marber at the Gavella Theatre; The Shape of Things by Neil LaBute, Mala Scena; The Ressistible Rise of Arturo Ui by Bertolt Brecht, Ulysses Theatre; and the ballet, Puss in Boots, National Theatre, Croatia.
As dramaturg and editor, she has twice collaborated with her father, Ivo Štivičić, on his play The Drunken Night of 1918, adapted from Miroslav Krleža; and his original play, Shakespeare in the Kremlin, which premiered at Ulysses Theatre in the summer of 2013.
Tena has been writing a column in the Croatian magazine Zaposlena since 2003. The column has evolved into a diary of sorts, charting some personal – and many societal – events, changes and phenomena over the course of the past decade. The collected columns were published into two books, which topped the non-fiction charts in Croatia.
A selection of columns (in Croatian only) is available to read here.
Tena writes in English and Croatian.
She lives with her husband, actor Douglas Henshall.