The Conquest of Happiness

* * * * – Financial Times, UK
* * * * – Independent, UK
* * * * – Belfast Telegraph, Northern Ireland, UK

East West Center, Bosnia – Herzegovina, Prime Cut Productions Northern Ireland and Mladinsko Theatre, Slovenia present

The Conquest of Happiness

The Conquest of Happiness is a unique theatre event that had its world premiere at the UK City of Culture Derry/ Londonderry September 20 2013 at the Ebrington Square, before touring cities across Europe including Mostar at the Opening of the International Theatre Festival MES Sarajevo, Ljubljana and Belfast.. An international cast of artists from Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Bosnia – Herzegovina, Belgium, UK and Slovenia explored through music, dance and drama the illusive and tantalising possibility of happiness in our increasingly unhappy world. Can we be happy? The piece is inspired by Bertrand Russell’s famous essay on happiness. This multiartform large scale open air event was supported by a community chorus in every city in which it was presented. This work was directed by internationally acclaimed director Haris Pasovic whose recent work Sarajevo Red Line Project illustrated in the most heartbreakingly poetic way how art can help people transcend the horrifying legacy of war.

The Conquest of Happiness is a cultural collaboration between three theatre companies that has grown and evolved since 2010. Inspired by the writings of world-renowned pacifist Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness, which features dance, theatre and live music, contextualizes his writing against some of the most horrific acts of war of the twentieth and twenty first centuries. Yet this is not a story of despair – the title of the project is not ironic, rather it explores humanity’s capacity for love, for generosity, for finding happiness even in the most dire of circumstances. Without unhappiness, there cannot be happiness but there is also and always hope.

This message is an important one. We live in uncertain times in a world where difference is more often viewed with suspicion, intolerance and hatred as it is accepted and celebrated. Even in the most seemingly stable of surroundings, civil unrest can break out, often apparently overnight, the experiences of those from both Bosnia-Herzegovina and Northern Ireland can testify to that. But we can also testify to what can happen when reason prevails, when people try to put their differences aside, to work for a common good – happiness for all, not just the few.

“Working in this project with artists coming from 6 European countries has been a precious experience. I doubt that we could have ever achieved this depth of work, insight and inspiration without this diversity. We enrich each other every single day all the time enlightened again with a new perspective, a new discovery, a new pleasant surprise.” Haris Pasovic

Inspired by the writings of Bertrand Russell

World premiere 20 September, Derry/Londonderry – City of Culture UK 2013
Bosnian premiere 28 September, Mostar – International Theatre Festival MESS
Slovenian premiere 5, 6 October, Ljubljana
Northern Irish premiere 25, 26 October, Belfast


  • Concept,producer: Haris Pašović
  • Co-author: Emma Jordan
  • Coreography: Thomas Steyaert
  • Artistic associate: Damian Gorman


  • Choir of Sarajevo National Sarajevo
  • Choir Leader: Danijel Žontar
  • Youth choir Zenica
  • Choir Leader: Milenko Karović
  • Childer choir from Mostar music school
  • Choir Leader: Vesna Arapović
  • Costume design: Irma Saje,Vanja Ciraj
  • Composer: Neil Martin
  • Composition ”Genocide”: Philip Tan
  • Scene and light design: Ciaran Bagnall
  • Sound design: Enrico Fidone
  • Video Design: Matt Curry
  • Graphic design: Enes Huseinčehajić
  • Technical director: Gianluca Tomasella
  • Sound operator: Enrico Fidone
  • Light operator:  Ciaran Bagnall
  • Stage manager: Monica McNally
  • Production manager: Jen Shepard
  • Chief Stage technician: Emin Bahtanović
  • Scene technicians: Senad Zornić,Džafer Musabegović
  • Followspot operators: Almir Osmanović,Elvis Šatrović
  • Casting director: Georgia Simpson
  • Finance: Lejla Abazović.Camille Watson
  • PR: Thursday’s child
  • Costumes: Lidija Inđić Kenović
  • Wardrobe: Edina Bahtanović
  • Workshop: Hercing d.o.o.
  • Sound: Festival Novo Mesto d.o.o.
  • Lighting: BMS
  • Video: Blow up
  • Producers:
  • East West Center
  • Haris Pašović,Ismar Hadžiabdić
  • Prime cut production
  • Una NicEoin,Emma Jordan
  • Slovenski mladinsko gledališče
  • Uršula Cetinski,Tibor Mihelic Syed