Yesterday’s friends have turned into today’s enemies. It happened in Sarajevo in 1992. It happened many times in history. Why would two friends – a professor and his student – two scientists who belong to the greatest scientists humankind has ever had, why would two magnificent intellects become enemies? The basis of “Copenhagen” by Michael Frayn, a superb contemporary British playwright, seems to be, at the first sight, inaccessible to readers unfamiliar with nuclear physics. The story deals with two nuclear physicists and a wife of one of them. Werner Heisenberg was one of the founders of quantum mechanics and discovered the Uncertainty Principle. Niels Bohr, Heisenberg’s professor, was one of the physicists whose findings were crucial for the understanding of structure of atom and quantum mechanics. Margrethe was Bohr’s wife. What are they to us and we to them – these atomic physicists – that we should weep for them, Hamlet could say. Well, by and large, they are everything to us, and we are everything to them.
Before WW II, both scientists made a fundamental contribution to humanity with their discovery of the key elements for our understanding of nuclear physics that has radically changed our understanding of nature. Several years later, at the beginning of the war, Bohr lived in his native Denmark and Heisenberg in his native Germany. In the Nazi Germany, Heisenberg worked on development of nuclear program, yet he did not create an atom bomb. Bohr worked on the nuclear program launched by the Allies, and eventually participated in the creation of nuclear bomb that killed more than 220,000 people and mimed and harmed hundreds of thousands more in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The story of these three people is the story of our friendships and our courage, the knowledge and intelligence of each of us; it is the story of our ethics. The question posed by E. M. Forster: “If I had to chose between betraying my country and betraying my friend…” tears the characters of this play apart. “Copenhagen”, directed by Nermin Hamzagić is located at the Memorial to the Victims of WW II at Vrace near the so-called inter-entity boundary that was drawn during the recent war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The drama of two friends who have become enemies develops in an exciting ambiance of memories and the present time, where a forgotten urban location turns into the intimate, political and metaphysical stage that grants itself for our understanding of the world. The monument is derelict and abandoned; victims to whom it was erected are not relevant any more. Does it mean that tomorrow, the today’s victims, will also be forgotten? Amar Selimović as Heisenberg, Damir Markovina as Bohr and Sabina Bambur as Margrethe stare at the city that is the world, into the darkness of the night and into the sky above Sarajevo. Their story becomes ours; it articulates our uncertain existence, the uncertainties of our world, human responsibility that each of us should bear.
Sarajevo, 25th April 2008
Director: Nermin Hamzagić
Translation: Sonja Bašić
Amar Selimović – Werner Heisenberg
Damir Markovina – Niels Bohr
Sabina Bambur – Margrethe Bohr
Scenography: Amir Vuk Zec and Studio NewWay
Costumes: Kao Pao Shu
Music: Edin Zubčević
Graphic design: Goran Lizdek, Bojan Hadžihalilović
Chief Stage technician: Emin Bahtanović
Light design: Muamer Čaušević
Sound design: Nihad Mahmutović
Wardrobe: Edina Bahtanović
Production: East West Centar
Producer: Haris Pašović
Executive producer: Ismar Hadžiabdić
Manager: Sanela Brčić
Producers assistant: Iris Dizdarević
Directors assistent: Adnan Kamenjaš