The City Theater Žar ptica, today a respectable theater for children and youth in Croatia and beyond, began operating in 1981 as a working community "Theater Žar ptica", whose founder and first director was Tomica Milanovski.
Having gone through numerous stages of artistic and organizational growth, the hitherto guest theater in 1997 received exceptional recognition for its work. That year, the Žar ptica Theater was named the city theater with a 200 – seat hall in Bijenička 97.
The City Theater Žar ptica got a big boom after 2000, when Marija Sekelez became the director.
Immediately after arriving in 2001, Marija Sekelez founded the BEST, BEST, BEST festival, a review of the best children's theaters from all over Croatia, which in 2007 became international. Every year during the spring school holidays, the festival allows children to enjoy the best domestic and world theater productions for free.
Along with the Naj, naj, naj festival, it has launched the now unavoidable traditional actions: "Welcome, dear first-graders to your Žar ptica theater" and "Nema zime u Žar ptici", which invites many schoolchildren and their parents to go to school, that is, the winter school holidays are celebrated and spent at free performances in their favorite theater.
With the humanitarian action "Smile to health" among the first in a series of similar actions, GK Žar ptica visits and cheers small patients in children's hospitals every September.
Basing its repertoire on works of domestic and foreign classics, as well as contemporary authors of children's literature, GK Žar ptica is one of the most successful Zagreb theaters with about 55,000 spectators and 300 performances of repertoire titles a year.
GK Žar ptica regularly participates in numerous domestic festivals (MDF in Šibenik, ASSITEJ Čakovec, Actor's Festival in Vinkovci, Mali Marulić in Split…), and has been a guest at eminent international festivals in the United States, France, Great Britain, Egypt, Mongolia , Tunisia, Venezuela, Israel, Austria, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina…
In addition to numerous awards won so far at domestic and foreign festivals, GK Žar ptica is a six-time winner of the Croatian Theater Award for the best play for children and youth, as follows: 2002 (Fairy tale about a fisherman and a fish), 2005 (Thumbnail), 2008 Zločestobija), 2013 (Crumbs from the living room) 2014 (Me and my feelings) and 2016 (Fairy tale about the Firebird)
Actor Drago Utješanović will take over the management of GK Žar ptica from June 6, 2016.