In November 2017, Ratko Mladic, a war-time leader and a commander of the Bosnian Serb Army, was sentenced by the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal to life imprisonment for the genocide and crimes against humanity committed during the 1992–1995 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the region the verdict was received with conflicting reactions, emphasising yet again how extensive the ethnic division is within the society. Through close analysis of the theatre project Shakespeare's Comedies performed by ethnically segregated youth in Bosnia-Herzegovina, this article aims to understand how Shakespeare's work functions as a vehicle to address the consequences of war and to support the complex process of reconciliation under circumstances in which the issues of war crimes cannot be tackled in a straightforward and direct manner. The study takes a cross-disciplinary approach to research, drawing from theory of reconciliation, applied theatre practice and comedy studies.
Maja Milatovic-Ovadia is a freelance theatre director, drama lecturer and PhD researcher at the Royal School of Speech and Drama. Her research interests include the use of humour and comedy within applied theatre practice in post-conflict settings. Since 2009 she has been actively involved with Most Mira, a charity organisation that uses art to support the process of reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Originally from former Yugoslavia, she is currently based in London.