THE PERFORMANCES ARE PLAYED IN FREEZING THEATERS // 03. 1995.
VLADO JOKANOVIC // ACTOR
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

March 1995

Vlado Jokanovic
Actor
THE PERFORMANCES ARE PLAYED IN FREEZING THEATERS

‘With two or three heaters, it was impossible to heat up the auditorium at Chamber Theater 55, so most of the plays were performed at 00 C. It is interesting that people didn't mind that. They were sitting in heavy coats. For us on the scene it was somehow warmer. I must say that when you perform in front of an audience you often forget about your yourself, you don't feel cold. So we moved around the stage and the audience was sitting for an hour or an hour and a half. Once I took the opportunity to go out to the foyer and speak to the audience before the show. I said something like this: it's cold in the hall, a few degrees Celsius; would you like us to perform or should we cancel the show. Believe me, no one left, everyone said please perform the show. Those were the great moments. It is really impressive, truly beautiful, when you are face to face with your audience, with people who risk their lives to come to the show and go home after the show with same risk. In some way, we were all condemned together. We, the actors, who had to come and perform the show, and the audience that came so see us. We played Sarajevo roulette together. Russian roulette, or 'dance macabre' that dance with death. ’

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MARCH 1995


• The first of March is proclaimed independence day for BiH, by decision of the RBiH Parliament.
• Sarajevo: from Skenderija to Elektroprivreda, the tram follows a UN APC for protection. Antisniper protection is on standby, reserved for tall buildings with views of the streets and hills.


• The Royal Swedish Theatre introduces heat to the National Theatre.


• Serbia rejects the peace plan proposed by the great powers and required for them to lift sanctions.


• The Bosnian Serbs fire at planes with automatic weapons. UNPROFOR personnel increasingly refuse to fly to Sarajevo.
• British parliament: One MP in the Labour party accuses former UNPROFOR Commander Michael Rose of taking bribes from the Serbs, as well as receiving a photograph from Bosnian Serb Commander Ratko Mladic as a farewell present, in turn providing the Serbs with confidential NATO information on the flight schedules of NATO aircraft.


• Sarajevo trams: Antisnipers teams are arrayed from Elektroprivreda to Marijin Dvor. Nearby are UN ambulances for the injured.
• Antisniper teams cover the critical sections of the tram tracks.


• UN spokesman, Alex Ivanko: “It seems the antisniper agreement from 94 wasn’t worth the paper it was written on.”
• Richard Holbrooke, in Zagreb with Tudjman, Susak and Granic, puts pressure on the Croats to change their minds on the UN withdrawal from Croatia.
• Bihac: a bag of flour costs between 450-500 DM, while chocolate costs between 7-9 DM.


• The UN Command for sector Sarajevo establishes passive and active protection. They form plans to place large containers at the riskiest intersections and screens on the banks of the Miljacka, which would reduce visibility for the snipers. Another idea is to install concrete slabs on the tram to protect against snipers.
• “Alpine Milk” appears in dairy stores..


• The decision on changing clocks for daylight savings time in the future will be made by the minister for refugees and welfare and not the government, as before. Daylight savings time will begin the last week of March and first week of April.
• The establishment of tram traffic is only an illusory success for UNPROFOR. It is a political issue. A commission is formed for the security of tram traffic.


• At an auction in London on March 16th one can find a lock of Napoleon’s hair, as well as one from the Duke of Wellington, who won the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. The latter’s lock of hair is 200 pounds. Napoleon lost the Battle of Waterloo; his lock of hair goes for 1,500 pounds.


• Because the road to the airport closes, prices at the market rise. At the market those who are the quickest and have exact change get the cheapest deals.
• Akashi conveys a message from the commander of the Bosnian Serb Army, Ratko Mladic: “For each murdered Serb, the Serbian side will close their entrances to Sarajevo, for 30 days,” on the occasion of the murders of children in Grbavica.


• Transport of goods through BiH: a truck plunges into the Neretva with 23 tons of paint. The ongoing conflict causes goods to be uncontrolledly transported through its territory.


• The Serbs fire on the UN at Gorazde. NATO planes circle the area at the time of the attack for 4 hours. The UN does not request directly an air intervention.


• The Bosnian Serbs fire on Igman road. UN report: the Serb machine gun doing the firing is located in the center of Ilidza, so nothing can be done without endangering civilians.
• Flights to Split halted.


• Centralistic conception of the UN collapses, along with unified command for the former Yugoslavia, breaking into several smaller factions more adequate for the situation.
• Belgrade accuses George Soros of being a CIA agent who recruits youth, indoctrinates them and then sends them back to serve foreign interests.
• UNPROFOR suggests that to protect Sarajevans 150-200 containers be set down, three containers high. The City authorities reject the proposal because it would constitute a new Berlin Wall.


• Massacre in the center of Tuzla: 19 killed, dozens more wounded.
• A “Hercules” lands at the Sarajevo airport.


• Renewed shelling of Tuzla.


• UNPROFOR meets with the warring sides and receives assurances that UN planes will not be fired at. It is hoped that this oral agreement will be enough to reassure UN pilots.


• The UN issues an ultimatum for the Serbs to return stolen arms, as well as to destroy a portion of them. UNPROFOR believes that the stolen mortars with traces of mud and snow were used for military training. During the UN visit, the Serbs weld part of the cannon.
• Muhamed Filipovic, leader of one of the opposition parties in BiH, visits Belgrade. He meets with Slobodan Milosevic, who is not ready to recognize BiH.


• Bosnian Serb television station “Srna”: “Radovan Karadzic will announce an immediate end to the war if ARBiH forces withdraw to their positions from December 24th, when he signed the agreement on the ceasefire.”


• Radovan Karadzic proclaims a general mobilization.
• UN mandate in BiH extended till November 30.


• Radovan Karadzic appears in uniform after the defeat of Serb forces in Majevica. He extends an invitation for negotiations, and sends a letter to the U.S., Russia, the United Kingdom, France and Boutros-Ghali in which he demands an immediate end to the ARBiH’s actions to liberate itself. He claims that if there is continued conflict it will grow into a Balkan war.
• Owen, in an interview with the BBC: “The sides have to gather around the negotiating table or it will be a bitter war, to a degree we’ve never seen before,”


• Austria introduces a visa regime for Bosnians; the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in BiH protests

Theaters

“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.

CULTURAL SURVIVAL

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.

Kamerni teatar 55

In the period from January 1 to the fall 1993 „Kamerni teatar 55“ was a host to 431 events ranging from theatre performances to musicals and rock concerts. Although the building has been hit several times during the war, the Sarajevans claim that it is one of the safest places in the city. Twice a week Hair is performed, but some pre-war Shakespeare plays can also be seen. The performances start at 1 p.m. due to curfew.
„Kamerni teatar“ is also a venue for the presentation of new firms, banks and political parties, exhibitions of the „conceptual“ art, photographs, local celebrations, and one can also stumble into a cocktail – made up of the humanitarian aid.
The director of the theatre is Nermin Tulić, an actor whose both legs were shot off in a shelling.

Vladimir Jokanovic
He was born in 1929 in Doboj, Bosnia. He came to Sarajevo after the Second World War, where he graduated from the Philosophy College. He worked as an editor, director and actor at Sarajevo radio. For 37 years, he stayed with the National Theater. He had 200 roles and directed several plays. Today he is the oldest active actor in Sarajevo. He played Hamlet, MacDaf in Macbeth, Brutus in Julius Caesar...

THE SIEGE
He played in the performance “Fortress” at the National Theater in 1993, and in several performances at the Kamerni Theater 55, whose member he has been since 1994.

It there were life after life, in what shape would you return?
As myself.

How do you describe perfect happiness?
It doesn’t exist. It would be awfully boring.

What is you biggest loss?
Thank God it has not happened.

What is your biggest gain?
Healthy mind, health in general.

When and where were you happiest?
During summers spent with my family at the island of Hvar.

What are your lost illusions?
A better order of things, a theater in which the actor is the central figure.

Describe your day at work.
Rehearsals, plays, thinking, role-reading.

Sarajevo?
That dear, unfortunate city, without its wise and talented people.

What words don’t you use anymore?
Peace.

In your opinion, is morale a virtue?
Yes! But it isn’t in an orthodox clerical sense.

Where would you like to live?
In Sarajevo-forever. All around the world, temporary.

How have you survived?
By working.

What are you afraid of?
Laziness-spiritual emptiness.

Does the past exist for you?
Yes, as tradition - not as mythomania.

This is the end of a civilization. What will the next one be like?
It has a dark future.

Can you give us a recipe for mental health?
Work, work and nothing but work.

How would you like to die?
Painlessly.

Do you need hope to live?
Without a doubt.

What did ’92 look like, and ’93, and ’94?
They were all equally terrible.

How would you call this period of your life?
Fall-the best season of the year.

Your message from the end of the world, from a country of last things?
People, love each other!

Do you like life, and what is life all about?
Yes! Life is a dream!

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