East West Centre Sarajevo was established in 2005. It is a non-for-profit cultural institution. It is the most successful cultural organization in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the leading independent cultural organization in the Balkan region. So far, it has produced and presented performing arts programs, music, films and organized tours, discussions, forums, master-classes and workshops. It has collaborated with artists coming from more than twenty different countries and four continents.
Mission of the East West Centre Sarajevo is to raise awareness of the importance of multiculturalism in the Balkan region and around the world, as well as to serve as a platform for artists coming from the Balkan region and around the world to produce the works of art of the highest standard. It is a mainstream, high profile cultural organization working with some of the most prestigious international and regional artists. Our programmes and policies are based on equality and diversity of people in terms of their ethnicity, race, religion, gender and sexual orientation.
Haris Pašović, director of the East West Center is an internationally acclaimed multiple awarded theatre and film director who has been of a leading cultural and public figure in the Balkans for decades. Among his many achievements are: co-founding of the Directing Department at the Performing Arts Academy in Sarajevo; managing the International Theatre and Film Festival MES during the siege of Sarajevo (when he produced a legendary production of “Waiting for Godot”, directed by Susan Sontag) founding of the Sarajevo Film Festival “Beyond the End of the World” during the siege of Sarajevo; founding of the East West Centre in Sarajevo.
The East West Centre has been performing extensively in the Balkan region and around the world (including the world-famous festivals: Edinburgh International Festival; Napoli Teatro Festival Italia, National Arts Festival of South Africa; Singapore Arts Festival; International Theatre Festival Poland as well as the festivals in St. Petersburg, Sibiu, Ljubljana, Belgrade, Zagreb, and many others).
The East West Theatre Company’s repertoire consists of the following shows: W. Shakespeare’s Hamlet (2005-); Faust based on the work by C. Marlow (2006-); N. Williams’ Class Enemy (2007-); M. Frayn’s Copenhagen (2008-); M. Ravel’s Bolero (2008-); H. Ibsen’s Nora (2009-); H.C.Andersen’s Ugly Duckling (2010); H. Pašović’s Football, Football (2010-); M.Krleža’s Europe Today (2011-); Haris Pašović and Edward Clug’s Footbal Stories/Roses for Anne Teresa. We also produced a documentary film Dreamers (2009-).
William Shakespeare’s Hamlet (produced in 2005; directed by Haris Pašović) was seen in several countries with a great acclaim. It demonstrated that a high-profile theatrical event could have significant political and cultural impact in the region. It was the biggest regional co-production in the past twenty five years and it involved artists from eight countries.
It was set in the context of the Ottoman Empire. The setting of the play, along with the context and the thoughtful and imaginative artistic approach made Hamlet an in-depth contemporary production – profound, responsible, highly theatrical and entertaining one. British Reuters, CNN as well as many other media outlets reported about the production. Amar Selimović, as Hamlet, was awarded the Best Young Actor Award at the International Theatre Festival MES Sarajevo.
Faust (produced in 2006, directed by Haris Pašović) opened the MES Festival Sarajevo 2006 and in only 2 days attracted 2,000 spectators, which is the absolute record in the theatre of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Based on Christopher Marlow’s masterpiece, this production is transported in the near future examining the impact of the rapid development of technology on contemporary life.
As the first Balkan company ever, the East West Center took part with a great acclaim, at the Edinburgh International Festival 2008 with Nigel Williams’ play Class Enemy (produced in 2007; adapted and directed by Haris Pašović). It is a play about juvenile violence and disillusioned youth adapted to Bosnian circumstances. The Times, Financial Times, Guardian, Herald, Independent, Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday, BBC, BBC World Service and many other British media reported extensively about the East West Centre. Class Enemy has been pronounced as the Best Contemporary Show at the International Festival Kontakt, Torun, Poland, and as The Best Play of the Year in Singapore’s leading newspaper Strait Times and the leading theatre portal The Flying Inkpot.
In 2008, East West Theatre Company toured with Class Enemy in Scotland in the small cities such as Cumbernauld, Rutherglen, and Stirling. With this play, East West Theatre Company also toured in more than thirthy small towns in Bosnia. Most of these towns have not hosted a single theatre production for several decades prior to the East West Theater Company’s Class Enemy.
In 2007 and 2008, East West organized events in the National Theatre Sarajevo celebrating April 6th – The Liberation Day of the City of Sarajevo.
In February 2009, the East West Center hosted one of the highest-profile theatre companies in Europe, Schaubuhne Berlin, as a central part of the project East West Fest – Berlin in Sarajevo. This was one of the events in Europe that marked the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Schaubuhne Theatre presented themselves to local audience with 3 of their most important productions: W. Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” directed by Thomas Ostermeier played in the Olympic Hall Zetra for more than 2,500 spectators, A. Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” directed by Luk Perceval and F. Richter’s “Under Ice” in the National Theatre for more than 1,300 spectators.
In 2010, East West Center was invited to create an international theatre and dance production Football, Football that was written and directed by Haris Pašović, and produced in cooperation with Napoli Teatro Festival, Singapore Arts Festival, Les Ballet C de la B, legendary contemporary dance company and Flota Institute from Slovenia. Since the opening in May 2010, the show has been performed for 15 times on 3 continents (Europe, Asia and Africa). The artists coming from 4 four continents (Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia) and seven countries (Italy, Slovenia, Singapore, Burkina Faso, Bosnia and Herzegovina, China and Australia) got together in this unique piece, the biggest about the football ever produced. Reuters, British Guardian, Channel News Asia, CNN Mexico, China Daily, India Times, Daily News Pakistan, ABC News and media in Italy, Spain, Australia, Singapore and Indonesia wrote extensively about the show. Football, Football was a highlight of the National Arts Festival in South Africa that was taking place during the FIFA World Cup 2010. During the Napoli Teatro Festival Italia the East West Center organised a workshop presenting the story of football to 300 kids coming from deprived areas of the region of Campania.
At the start of year 2011, in one of the biggest co-productions in the South East Europe in years, the East West Theatre Company Sarajevo together with the biggest Slovenian theatre – Slovenian National Theatre, Maribor and European Cultural Capital 2012 Maribor have produced a new show Europe Today written by Miroslav Krleža and directed by Haris Pašović with some of the finest artists in the region: Miki Manojlović, who is considered by many one of the greatest actors of all times in the Balkans, an European actor internationally acclaimed (European Film Academy Award, 2007 Best Actor – Nominee; Best Actor – 2010 Gotham Screen Film Festival, New York.; Edward Clug, an artistic director of the ballet of Slovenian National Theatre, Maribor is a hot fast-rising star in international contemporary dance with his widely acclaimed choreographies (“Radio and Juliet”, Slovenian National Theatre Maribor; “Separations” Marinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg; “Four Reasons,” National Ballet of Portugal) and the industrial, neoclassical band Laibach a Slovenian avant-garde band. In their music they successfully combine the industrial, neoclassical and martial elements creating an original, highly spirited works. They have been among the most controversial bands in the Balkans for decades, often provoking heated debates. They have been accused both by the far left and far right for being too extreme. Laibach was banned a couple of times in the former Yugoslavia. The popular German band Rammstein has acknowledged that they have been hugely influenced by both the aesthetic approach and material of Laibach. The dramaturge of the production is Dubravka Vrgoč, director of the Zagreb Youth Theatre. These artists come from Slovenia, Romania, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. The show has been played four times since the opening (Maribor and Sarajevo). Reportedly, 2500 spectators have seen the show in Sarajevo in one night, which is an absolute record in Bosnia and Herzegovina theatre ever.
Roses for Anne Teresa/Football Stories was another production created in 2011 in cooperation between the East West Theatre Company and Bosnian National Theatre from Zenica. Haris Pašović and Edward Clug, choreographer and director of Ballet of Slovene National Theatre Maribor, together with Philip Tan, music director and composer from Singapore conceived this spectacular production, which through pop-folk hits and modern dance, tells a story of a small Balkan town.
In the last three years, we have organized master classes and workshops with some of the leading Europe’s directors, producers and choreographers such as Thomas Ostermeier (artistic director of Schaubuhne), Luk Perceval (artistic director of Thalia Theatre Hamburg), Tobias Veit (chief producer of Schaubuhne), James Morrison (producer of Guthrie Theatre Minneapolis), Mark Russel (director of Under the Radar Festival New York), Steve Kirkham and Madelaine Brennan (choreographer from Mathew Bourne’s New Adventures), Larisa Lipovac and Tamara Curić (directors of Contemporary Dance Center TALA, Zagreb). Haris Pašović, artistic director held workshops for Scottish theatre and film directors in Edinburgh and Zenica, as well as master classes for professionals in Belfast, Singapore, Zagreb, and Subotica.
We collaborated with many partners, such as British Council, Open Society Fond, Goethe Institut, LOTTO Foundation Berlin, Schaubuhne Berlin, US Embassy, UK Embassy, Norway Embassy, French Embassy, NATO, EUFOR, OSCE, The Council of City of Belgrade, The City of Sarajevo, The City of Zagreb, The City of Ljubljana, the Ministry of Culture of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Slovenia and Canton Sarajevo, The Ministry of Civil Affairs of BiH, Slvene National Theatre Maribor, Bosnian National Theatre Zenica and Prime Cut Productions from Belfast. We also collaborated with some of the most prestigious world festivals, such as Edinburgh International Festival, Singapore Arts Festival, Napoli Teatro Festival Italy, International Theatre Festival Kontakt (Poland), Sibiu International Festival (Romania), EX Ponto (Slovenia), Sterijino Pozorje (Novi Sad), International Theatre Festival MES Sarajevo, International Theatre Festival Ohrid Summer (Macedonia) and Yugoslav Drama Theatre in Belgrade, Slovene National Theatre in Maribor, Kosztolany Desze Theatre in Subotica, Mladinsko Gledališče in Lubljana, Zagreb Youth Theatre, TALA Centre etc.
East West Centre won the 2009 Golden Wreath for Contribution to Theatre at the International Theatre Festival MES Sarajevo.
To see CNN’s report about East West Centre and its activities, please click here.