Saturday, 20 February 2010

Sarajevo Theatre of War.

Sarajevo is in thaw. It's noisy as the snow frees itself from the rooftops and crashes down onto the pavements. The Milijacka river gurgles in full flow and has turned red bringing down mud and minerals from the surrounding hills. Through the drains, the many springs and tributaries that run underneath the city can be heard and the green line of Spring is slowly but surely creeping up the Treskavica Mountain dominating the town to the South. The year is on the move and our time here is coming to a close.

We took it easy today, pottered about and enjoyed the cafe culture that helps make this a very special place.

In the evening we went to see an exciting and expressionistic version of The House of Bernarda Alba at the Sarajevo Theatre of War (SARTR) performed by the impressive SLG company from Slovenia.

The space itself has a noble history of resistance and during the siege managed to cobble together enough resources, artists and audience to put on over 2000 performances. Its slogan 'Theatre against Death.'

Tonight's production seemed to fit perfectly with the chaos and surreal nature of war. Unlike so many British productions of Lorca, which treat the writer as a sacrosanct naturalist, the company found a hugely impassioned physicality to unleash the repressed desires of Bernarda's five daughters.

With every hurt magnified, every relationship deteriorating, the stage was very quickly strewn with physical debris - clothes, liquids, broken things. With the civilised diplomacy of trying to live through seven years of mourning exposed and shredded in free flowing visual metaphors, the survivors are left to pick their way through the fragments and try and connect them back together again.

It was rich, terrific and very moving.

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