Haris Pašović (50) has been one of the leading theatre directors in South East Europe for more than two decades. His education includes the Academy of Arts in Novi Sad, ex Yugoslavia; the Fulbright Scholarship in the USA (University of Hawaii, Honolulu, New York University and the University of Wisconsin, Madison); the UNESCO High Levels for Directors, Festival d’Avignon, France, and other professional trainings (Denmark, UK). He is the artistic leader of the East West Theatre Company in Sarajevo and Professor of Directing at the Performing Arts Academy in Sarajevo.

He directed in some of the most important theatres in the former Yugoslavia and participated in a number of festivals worldwide. His productions of Frank Wedekind’s “Spring’s Awakening” and “Calling the Birds” based on Aristophanes’ play “The Birds” (both at the Yugoslav Drama Theatre, Belgrade 1987/90) are considered the landmarks in the theatre of the former Yugoslavia. Likewise, his productions of  Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” (Belgrade Drama Theatre) and Alfred Jarry’s “Ubu Roi” (National Theatre Subotica) have been considered as the classic productions in the ex-Yugoslav theatre, the former being the last Yugoslav premiere performed on the eve of the war in the country. As the artistic leader of theatre “Promena” (“Change”), Pasovic directed with a great success Wiess’ “Marat/Sade”; Wedensky’s “The Christmas Three at the Ivanovs”; Kis’ “Simon the Magus” on a lake surrounded by sand desert; Bunuel’s “Hamlet” placed in the fortress sitting on a rock rising from the Adriatic Sea (Dubrovnik Summer Festival) and many other plays.

During the siege of Sarajevo (1992-95) Pasovic spent most of the time in Sarajevo managing the MES International Theatre Festival. He directed plays and produced several shows, among others “Waiting for Godot”, directed by Susan Sontag. This work with Sontag has been reported across the globe. In 1993, while Sarajevo was still under the siege, he also organized the first Sarajevo Film Festival “Beyond the End of the World”. Pasovic even managed to tour in 1994 to several European countries (under the UNESCO auspices) with the Sarajevo Festival Ensemble invited by Peter Brook and the Bouffe du Nord Theatre. During the tour, the Ensemble preformed two productions he had directed in the besieged city: “Silk Drums” based on the Noh plays, and “In the Country of Last Things”, based on Paul Auster’s novel.

After the war, Pasovic directed several documentaries including “Greta”, a story on Prof. Greta Ferusic who survived both Auschwitz and the siege of Sarajevo; a documentary trilogy entitled “Home,” “Love Thy Neighbor” and “The Balkans – Blood and Honey” about the American journalists David Rieff, Peter Maass and Ron Haviv, who had reported from the Bosnian war and an art documentary entitled “A Propos de Sarajevo” about the Sarajevo International Jazz Festival. These documentaries were shown at the New York Jewish Film Festival in Lincoln Centre, the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, as well as at the Museum of Modern Arts in Stockholm, the Contemporary Arts Institute in London, at the IDFA Festival in Amsterdam, the Mediterranean Film Festival in Rome, as well as at the Sarajevo Film Festival and several others.

In 2002, he made a spectacular comeback to theatre directing Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” in front of the Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina in downtown Sarajevo. This was a brave futuristic production about a Muslim Romeo and a Christian Juliet, which involved 25 actors and live musicians, 1000 sq. m of stage, a 60-member crew, arms, vehicles, fireworks, video projections across the façade of the Parliament building and has stopped the traffic in the main city artery for 4 hours each night it was performed. In 2004, Pasovic wrote a play “Rebellion at the National Theatre”, inspired by McCoy’s novel “They Shoot the Horses, Don’t They?” and directed it at the National Theatre in Sarajevo.

Pasovic has received many awards including the Best Director Award at the MES International Theatre Festival, Sarajevo; the Best Director at BITEF, Belgrade; the Best Yugoslav Director, UCHIMURA Prize, the Best Director at the Festival of Bosnian Theatres, etc. His shows as well as the actors and other artists working with Pasovic have received numerous awards as well.

In 2005, Pasovic established the East West Theatre Company. He directed William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” as the biggest regional co-production in the last 20 years with an international cast. “Hamlet” was named the Theatrical Event of the Year 2005, while Pasovic was named the Person of the Year 2005 /Theatre. In 2006, Pasovic directed a futuristic “Faust” with the prominent regional cast and Vitrac’s “Victor or the Children in Power” at the ZKM Theatre, Zagreb, Croatia.

IMG_9435In 2007, Pasovic adapted and directed “Class Enemy” by Nigel Williams that had a huge international success participating at some of the most prestigious Festivals in the world such as Edinburgh International Festival, Singapore Arts Festival, Sibiu International Festival, International Theatre Festival Kontakt Poland, Sterijino Pozorje and others. The Strait Times, the main newspaper in Singapore and The Flying Inkpot, the main theatre review portal in Singapore, chose “Class Enemy” two times as the Best Play of 2008 in Singapore. The International Jury of KONTAKT Festival in Torun, Poland awarded “Class Enemy” The Best Contemporary Play Award.

In 2009, Pasovic directed Henrik Ibsen “Nora” becoming an instant success. The play was shown in Sarajevo and toured in Macedonia at the Ohrid Summer Festival and opened an International Theatre Festival Desire in Subotica.

In 2010, Haris Pasovic was the author and the director of an international theatre dance production called “Football, Football”. The play was coproduced together with East West Theatre Company, Napoli Teatro Festival, Singapore Arts Festival, Les Ballet C de la B, legendary contemporary dance company and Flota Institute from Slovenia. The play was one of the most anticipated theatre productions in the world in 2010.

“Football, Football” participated in the main programmes of Singapore Arts Festival and the biggest African theatre festival in South Africa. It also opened the biggest Italian theatre festival Napoli Teatro Festival and performed in Sarajevo with huge success. The artists coming from 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. Interestingly, “Football, Football” was a highlight of the National Arts Festival in South Africa that was taking place during the FIFA World Cup 2010.

s3d1313Recently (2011), in of the biggest coproduction’s 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 show Europe Today written by Miroslav Krleža and directed by Pašović with some of the finest artists in the region: Miki Manojlović, who is considered by many as 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 and the industrial, neoclassical band Laibach a Slovenian avant-garde band. These artists came from Slovenia, Romania, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. The show has been played 4 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 BH theatre ever.

Also in 2011 Haris Pasovic directed a show called Roses for Anne Teresa/ Football Stories. East West Theatre Company Sarajevo together with Bosnian National Theatre Zenica produced it, while choreography was done by the partner from the previous production Edward Clug. Most recently, Clug was nominated for the prestigious theatre award of Russian Federation – The Golden Mask 2010 in the category: The best performance and The best choreographer. Production was also joined by Philip Tan, a highly successful composer from the South East Asia, who played the music live. Talented and diverse performers came from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belgium, Italy, Turkey, Russia and Burkina Faso.

Recently, Haris Pasovic was the main initiator and the author and the director of a large-scale event called Sarajevo Red Line which on April 6, 2012 commemorated the Siege of Sarajevo’s 20th anniversary. This drama and music poem dedicated to Sarajevo citizens killed during the 1992-96 Bosnian war consisted of 11,541 red chairs placed on the main Sarajevo street and it included a street exhibition and a concert. The event received a big international coverage in the media and was broadcast live in a number of TV stations.

coh_program.inddMost recently, Pašović directed “The Conquest of Happiness” based on Bertrand Russel’s famous essay. This project was initiated at the Edinburgh International Festival 2008 at the East West Theatre Company public workshop within the Festival’s program “Behind the Scenes.” The show was coproduced by East West Center Sarajevo, Prime Cut Productions Belfast and Theatre Mladinsko Ljubljana and it premiered at the Derry/Londonderry – City of Culture of UK 2013. The show opened the International Theatre Festival MESS 2013 under the spectacular Old bridge in Mostar. It also played in Sarajevo at the Olypmic Hall Zetra, Ljubljana and in Belfast at the Titanic quartet during the Queens Festival Belfast.

Pasovic also writes plays. He wrote the plays “Rebellion at the National Theatre”, “Ulysses”, “Silk drums”, “Bolero, Sarajevo,”  “Football, Football” and “Roses for Anne Teresa/Football Stories”. He also adapted several plays including Alfred Jarry’s “Ubu Roi”, Aristophanes’ “The Birds”, Nigel Williams’ “Class Enemy” , Miroslav Krleza’s Europe Today and several others. He writes essays and articles.

Pasovic gave a number of workshops and master-classes for directors and actors, as well as public lectures (Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annaghmakkering, Ireland; National Theatre of Scotland/Edinburgh International Festival; Queens University, Belfast; Drama Centre Singapore; Festival Desire Subotica, Serbia, etc.).

Pasovic is a co-founder of the Directing Department at the Performing Arts Academy. Several of his students are today internationally acclaimed film directors. Pasovic lives in Sarajevo. He is a professor of the Performing Arts Academy in Sarajevo and the Bled School of Management, Slovenia, where he teaches the subject Arts and Leadership.

To read a Financial Times interview with Haris Pašović, please click here
To read a Scotsman interview with Haris Pašović, please click here