A regional theatre co-production based on a famous novel about tolerance by Ivo Andric opens the door to increased regional cultural co-operation.
By Bedrana Kaletovic for Southeast European Times in Tuzla -- 13/04/12
Ivo Andric's Devil's Yard is performed at Bosnia and Herzegovina's Teatar Kabare in Tuzla. [Teatar Kabare Tuzla]
Three independent theaters in Serbia, Croatia, and in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) have co-produced a play based on writer Ivo Andric's novel Devil's Yard to mark the 120th anniversary of the author's birth and the 50th anniversary of his award of the Nobel Prize for Literature.
The play re-ignited the debate about Andric's nationality as well as which of the three nations can claim his works. Each includes Andric in their respective anthology of culture.
Andric was born and raised in a Catholic family in BiH but spent part of his life and died in Belgrade.
"Whose is Ivo Andric? The same dilemma and atmosphere have remained all these years because everybody wants Andric for themselves," Nebojsa Bradic, the play's director from the Virovitica theatre in Croatia, told SETimes.
The piece debuted in November 2011, but it is gaining ground in theatres this year, in light of Andric's anniversaries.
It is the first co-production by regional theaters from Serbia, Croatia and BiH after the conflicts of the 1990s, which has opened the door to increased regional cultural co-operation.
Audiences seem to be captured precisely because the theatres -- actors as well as the teams behind the scenes -- are resisting a national-ideological approach and treating Andric as common heritage.
"The co-operation has achieved invaluable experience of bridging regional barriers. Art as the product of the spirit is breaking all the walls, just like the [breakdown of the] Berlin Wall. The same will be with the wall around Andric," art critic Vojislav Vujanovic said.
The large national theaters are not performing a single Andric work, according to Vlado Kerosevic, a participating actor from Tuzla. "This suggests the various political options which are behind those theaters do not find it favourable to stage Andric's works," Kerosevic told SETimes.
But some, like internationally renowned movie director Emir Kusturica -- a Sarajevo native often in the limelight due to his Serbian nationalist views -- have maintained that Andric's cultural heritage should be seen through the of confines of national culture.
"[Andric] died in Serbia as a Serb and received the Nobel Prize as a Serb. He is not some kind of diplomatic space ... to be shared," Kusturica said.
Other Serbs qualify Kusturica's remarks.
"Of course the writer's national affiliation is not too important, but there is something called author's will and it is unconditionally respected everywhere. In this case, the author's will was to be a Serbian writer. ... A proverb says, when he is everybody's, he is nobody's," Komaja said.
Still others are sceptical and suspect foreign influence. "The EU imposed this co-operation. ... Let us not be fooled; this is not for love, but for pure interest," dokle prasina said.
"Between love and interest are countless alternatives. Those make up culture," retorted spasenija kolcek.
Theatre director Jasen Boko clarified the theatre's intentions. "We entered jointly in the plays co-production, which connects the theatres in three states which consider that Andric is part of theirs, but equally the world's cultural heritage. ... The reasons are artistic, since already enough people do politics in our countries."