‘SIR, ACTORS ARE DYING!’
‘Well I guess it’s kind of sad when I remember a play, or rather my favorite role that I have ever played, by the croissants that the director stole from the Holiday Inn and served us before the beginning of the rehearsal, just so that we would be strong enough to spend ten hours doing the play. That was probably the sweetest and best payment that any actor has ever received.’
• Speaking of the peace plan for BiH, Lord Owen announces: “With this division Musilims will not just get the 10% they control but more than they expect.”
• 300 American Marines are sent to Macedonia.
• Hunger strike at the City Assembly.
• Great public interest in the departure of convoys.
• Jean Cote appointed new Chief Commander of UN troops.
• A coordination committee established for the local Croat community. Dr. Ante Kovacevic announces: “All those who wish to defend the whole of BiH are welcome.”
• Vuk and Danica Draskovic, opposition leaders in Belgrade, in prison. Vuk Draskovic launches a hunger strike in protest.
• Countless barricades set up from Split to Sarajevo. Conducting humanitarian missions becomes impossible.
• HUNGER in Sarajevo. Gardens and balconies become the only sources of food.
• A Sarajevan actor says: “Sire, the actors are dying! On stage I act as if I were sated and we will keep on performing even if there are two catafalques on stage in which actors are truly dying.”
• Russian withdraw from Cuba, having first arrived in 1962.
• Hunger strikers at the City Assembly lose 1-3kg daily.
• Sarajevo becomes HELLISH.
• Although there is no oil, the TV news is still broadcast.
• Almost all work is suspended at hospitals. There are no diagnoses, and doctors skip tests before operations. Even when there is oil, the generators cannot provide enough power to operate the medical equipment.
• Lord Owen calls on the BiH government and the President of the Presidency, Alija Izetbegovic, to agree to the division of the country as soon as possible.
• The Presidency of the City Assembly ends its hunger strike under pressure from doctors and public appeals. Once the strike ends they announce: “Our conditions have not been met, but we’re terminating the strike.”
• Prices at the market: Cooking oil - 30 DM; 1 kg flour - 10 DM or 2 packs of cigarettes.
• Convoys prevented from leaving the city.
• The Draskovics are released from prison, after receiving a visit from Lord Owen who announces this to Slobodan Milosevic.
• Designer Josip Nose fashions a regulator for gas.
• Susan Sontag comes to Sarajevo to direct a performance of “Waiting for Godot.”
• 8,000 new UN soldiers arrive to BiH.
• Publication of the diary of Sarajevan girl Zlata Filipovic.
• Promotion of the slogan of the season, months, years, the ultimate slogan of the siege: “With cigarettes you’re never alone”.
• The famous Nazi war criminal hunter, Simon Wiesenthal, makes an appeal to former camp inmates and members of the resistance movement during the Second World War: “speak out against the barbarism and brutality in Bosnia.”
• Geneva, July 27, 1993. In Geneva, the peace conference on Bosnia continues. Participants include: Alija Izetbegovic, Slobodan Milosevic, Franjo Tudjman, Mate Boban, Radovan Karadzic. Co-chairs: Lord David Owen and Thorvald Stoltenberg.
• New rules: Expecting mothers in Sarajevo must bring with them to the hospital when about to give birth: bed sheets, diapers, soap and water. Immediate after giving birth they must go home.
• The humanitarian organization “Caritas” asks for its own airplane, seeing UNHCR status.
• Peace negotiations in Geneva: Ceasefire signed and free passage for a convoy of humanitarian aid, as well as non-aggression towards UNPROFOR.
• The Bosnian Serb Army attacks UN troops, but air strikes are absent.
• Geneva, July 30, 1993. In Geneva at the peace negotiations, Izetbegovic, Karadzic and Boban order an end to the war. They agree that daily meetings will be held at Sarajevo Airport between the commanders of the armed forces, together with UNPROFOR commanders. Owen and Stoltenberg offer a new compromise peace plan for BiH. Under this plan the country will be divided into three republics, but not along ethnic lines, and will be under loose federal control.
• Geneva: BiH remains a single country within its existing borders, with three republics not formed exclusively on the basis of nationality.
• The U.S.A. seeks support from France and the U.K for air strikes to lift the siege of Sarajevo.
“Kamerni teatar 55” is located in a shelled building in the main street, Marshal Tito 55. The auditorium is one of the safest places in the city. Every day at 1 p.m. (the time is determined by the difficulty of moving about in the light-less city at night) there is a performance, a presentation of a new bank, newspaper, or a commemoration of some significant event... Sometimes there are cocktail-parties where the humanitarian aid is served. Hair is the most popular hit.
Sarajevo is a unique city on the planet. It is the site where our civilization has been dismantled in the course of intentional violence.
But Sarajevo is also the symbol of civil defense, the site where violence has been fought back with tolerance, fascism with art and culture, destruction with rebuilding, death with humour, the outburst of rural culture with the one that's urban terror with stubborn maintaining of normal city lifestyle.
Sarajevo has been deprived of all the civil, existential and social rights. It has been deprived of the right to live. Everything that makes normal urban living has been taken away from Sarajevo and its citizens, everything that could have been taken away has been taken away, all except for the right to survive by maintaining the right to culture.
But among all that destruction and dying, kids are being born, birthdays celebrated, weddings carried out. In the city surrounded by the deadly circle of primitivism the exhibitions are being opened, movies made, festivals organized, theatre plays and musicals performed.
Sarajevo lives the post-cataclysm. It is the picture of civilization emerging out of cataclysm, making something out of nothing, giving messages for the future.
Not because the future is necessarily a future of wars and disasters, but because humans are growing older and being born into a world which is ever less secure.
All that has been left under the ruins of Sarajevo, all that has survived the shelling of our civilization is the spirit of the cultural survival. The reconstruction of that spirit, the spirit of Sarajevo must start – now. Otherwise – Sarajevo will become the graveyard of the principles of multiethnicity and human rights.
He was born on June 23, 1962 He graduated from the Academy of Performing Arts in Sarajevo, with a degree in acting. He works at the academy as an assistant professor. He acts in all Sarajevo theaters and was engaged in theaters in Dubrovnik, Zagreb, Skopje. He played over 50 roles and worked for TV and film.
He taught at the Academy of Performing Arts. He played 18 roles in two years of the war, directed three projects in the Kamerni Theater 55, and played in the films ‘MGM Sarajevo” in 1994, and “Unexpected Walk.” His favorite war role is the one of Lucky in “Waiting for Godot,” directed by Susan Sontag in 1993. Currently, he is the dean of the Academy of Performing Arts.
It there were life after life, in what shape would you return?
I would like to return as a man.
How do you describe perfect happiness?
I cannot. Perfect happiness does not exist.
What is you biggest loss?
What is your biggest gain?
Another kind of freedom.
When and where were you happiest?
What are your lost illusions?
That I understood something and some people.
Describe your day at work.
What words don’t you use anymore?
I can’t, I must not, No problems.
In your opinion, is morale a virtue?
Very often, yes.
Where would you like to live?
How have you survived?
I don’t know whether I have.
What are you afraid of?
Of dogs, but not as much as before the war.
Does the past exist for you?
What is the past?
This is the end of a civilization. What will the next one be like?
It will be faster.
Can you give us a recipe for mental health?
2 spoons of cocoa, 2 spoons of sugar, 2 spoons of hot milk, and walnuts.
How would you like to die?
For a short period of time.
Do you need hope to live?
I needed it up to now.
What did ’92 look like, and ’93, and ’94?
’92 interesting, ’93, already seen, ’94, it there and end?
How would you call this period of your life?
Preparation for happiness.
Your message from the end of the world, from a country of last things?
“Sorry, the leaf said and fell. It’s nothing, I said and cried.”
Do you like life, and what is life all about?
THE NATIONAL THEATER
The Neo-renaissance building built in 1898 during the Austro- Hungarian rule in Bosnia, is located by the Post Office bridge which was a dangerous sniper zone. Regardless of the continual danger from the snipers and shelling, the theater staged performances which filled the cold auditorium that had not been heated for years. The repertoire consisted of all kinds of plays from Greek tragedies to contemporary plays or the Japanese No plays.