PREMIERE ‘IN THE COUNTRY OF THE LAST THINGS’// 08. 1994. • LEJLA PASOVIC// INTERNATIONAL THEATRE AND FILM FESTIVAL
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT
International Theater and Film Festival
PREMIERE ‘IN THE COUNTRY OF THE LAST THINGS’
‘We based the play on the Paul Aster's novel of the same name In the Country of Last Things. We did this play during a period that was very difficult for Sarajevo, 1994, when Svrzo's house at the time was like a little oasis for us. There we were able to work undisturbed, to rest. Because it was unusual, really, to be in the center of town in a house that was protected from the war and from everything that was going on around us. We did two versions of the play. One in English, one in Bosnian. In English we acted with a guest-actress, Vanessa Redgrave. That was on the 21st of August in '94, and on the 23rd of August we acted it out in Bosnian.’
• A common scene on the streets of Sarajevo: in the tram stand passengers reading newspapers, while a sniper on the hill shoots all over Marijn Dvor. All wait for the shooting to stop. Passengers entering the tram choose the "best" place in the tram, where one has "the least chance of being shot" - Sarajevo Roulette.
• The usual sight at UN checkpoints where they should provide control of Bosnian Serb weapons: the Serbs arrive at checkpoints, take weapons by force from UN soldiers, then engage in talks over restoring the weapons under control.
• Foreign Minister of Russia, Andrei Koziryev: "I will no longer talk with Radovan Karadzic."
• At the airport negotiations on the cessation of sniper shootings.
• Because of the refusal to sign the proposed plan of the Contact Group and their referendum vote, the Serbian government sends a letter to the Bosnian Serbs: "Do not hide yourselves behind the referendum."
• The Government of Yugoslavia decides to break off political and economic relations with the Bosnian Serbs and the leadership in Pale. Borders are closed, transportation stopped and ban passed prohibiting political leaders and members of Parliament to step on Yugoslav soil.
• Bosnian Serbs seize a tank, 2 APC′s from a UN checkpoint. NATO aircraft warn their headquarters, and then act. UN Commander Michael Rose: "We warned the Serbian side to take shelter, because we did not want to kill soldiers." The green light for attacks comes from Washington, after consultation with Moscow and Brussels. "
• Passengers injured in a tram. The trams stops working.
• After the NATO air strikes, the Serbs return the tank, 2 APC′s and 2 anti-aircraft weapons. Admiral Leighton Smith, on the occasion of the NATO actions: "The point of the attack was to warn the Serbs so that they don’t even think of doing this again."
• Since the closure of the "blue routes" prices in the markets have soared by 100%.
• Momcilo Krajisnik, president of the Bosnian Serb Assembly, sends a request to the Contact Group to change the maps and give the Serbs their own state, otherwise they will be responsible for the escalation of the war in Bosnia.
• "Krug 99" launches a campaign: Declaration on a unified Sarajevo.
• Thousandth performance of "Moving Theatre."
• Swimming in the rivers of Sarajevo is forbidden due to contaminated water and the increasing occurrence of jaundice.
• Manfred Woerner, Secretary General of NATO, passes away.
• At Sarajevo airport an agreement is signed on snipers.
• Issues surround the commissioning of a new water supply - wait for a unit for water treatment.
• A BiH expedition stops its climb on the Himalayas due to the illness of one of the climbers.
• Vatican works on plans for the Pope's visit to Sarajevo. The Vatican gives consideration to the warning from Radovan Karadzic that the Pope will be shot by Muslims who in turn will blame the Serbs for the assassination.
• UN observers monitor Igman road with cameras, as Bosnian Serbs are firing on it.
• Sarajevo tram: UN troops will be passengers on the tram in order to ensure the safety of the passengers.
• The ARBiH liberates the city Velika Kladusa. The Army issues a proclamation for citizens to have confidence in it.
• General Michael Rose rides on the Sarajevo tram with specially designed tram tickets designed just for him and his symbolic ride.
• President of Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milosevic refuses to appoint observers at the border. Kozyrev travels to Belgrade.
• A fashion show with pieces made from clay and yeast is held; the designer is Snjezana Hufnagl.
• Everthing is prepared for the Pope's arrival. An altar is being constructed.
• Russian Foreign Minister Andre Kozyrev says after his visit to Belgrade, "We must strengthen sanctions against the Bosnian Serbs and ease sanctions against Belgrade."
• A statement from Radovan Karadzic, on the occasion of a possible lifting of the arms embargo for the country of Bosnia and Herzegovina: "If the international community lifts the embargo, we will detain all foreigners, shoot down all planes, and kidnap UN observers."
• Andrei Kozyrev in Sarajevo.
• After discussions with Koziryev, Slobodan Milosevic agrees to place observers on the border.
“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.
In the country of last things
(August 21, 1994)
The Jewish Museum „In the Country of Last Things“ is a theatre production inspired by Paul Auster's novel and directed by Haris Pašović. It is a reconstruction of the siege presented through a confession of a young woman, Anna Blum.
The production explores the new theatrical forms capable of conveying new experiences at the end of our century.
The Sarajevo premier was during the Baby Universe festival with Vanessa Redgrave playing the role of the Storyteller.
The performance is currently on a European tour. During the months of September and October they'll perform in Paris, Bonn, Amsterdam, Strasburg and Berlin.
Sarajevo Festival Ensemble
BABY UNIVERSE Production
She was born on December 31, 1971 in Sarajevo, where she enrolled in the Philosophy College (department of world literature). She finished a music school, piano department.
She has worked for the International Film and Theater Festival since July 1993. During 1994, she worked as the program manager on the projects of the Summer Festival “Baby Universe”. She played in performances by Haris Pasovic: “Silk Drums II” and “In the Country of Last Things”.
It there were life after life, in what shape would you return?
In human. As Lejla Pasovic.
How do you describe perfect happiness?
I remember a picture from the trip to Italy, when I was four.
What is you biggest loss?
The loss of dear people - some have died, some have left.
What is your biggest gain?
The experience that I have learned in the siege.
When and where were you happiest?
Ljubljana 1994, the night when I met N. After everything we have lived through in the siege, we were together for the first time outside the walls of the besieged city.
What are your lost illusions?
I have never had any.
Describe your day at work.
I get up. I work 10 hours a day. I eat diner. I go out with Nihad. I sleep. I get up...
The city in which I was born and which I love. The city of last things.
What words don’t you use anymore?
Yugoslavia, Serbo-Croat language, where are we going for the vacation?
In your opinion, is morale a virtue?
Where would you like to live?
Somewhere on the seashore.
How have you survived?
Work and dear persons have helped me.
What are you afraid of?
Does the past exist for you?
This is the end of a civilization. What will the next one be like?
If it will ever happen, it will look like “Mad Max III.”
Can you give us a recipe for mental health?
You get used to shells, to what you like and hang out with those you love.
How would you like to die?
Quickly, painlessly, and in old age.
Do you need hope to live?
I don’t have hope any more, but I am still living.
What did ’92 look like, and ’93, and ’94?
The beginning of terror, terror, permanent hopelessness.
How would you call this period of your life?
Your message from the end of the world, from a country of last things?
You are the next.
Do you like life, and what is life all about?
I do love it, but I am not sure that I can give conclusions.