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Shakespeare in Sarajevo

Theatrical and Cinematic Encounters with the Balkans War

Sara Soncini

Looking at contemporary conflict through the lens of the past has been a prominent aspect of Shakespeare’s afterlife. Even today, his plays continue to be mobilized in the Balkan region in order to address the aftermath of ethnic violence. This article focuses on theatrical and cinematic takes that are chronologically close but geographically distant from the Yugoslav context. Katie Mitchell’s staging of 3 Henry VI (1994), Sarah Kane’s play Blasted (1995) and Mario Martone’s documentary-style film, Rehearsal for War (1998) were all prompted by a deep-felt urge to confront the Bosnian war and reclaim it from the non-European otherness to which it systematically became confined in public discourse at the time. In Shakespeare, these artists found a powerful conceptual aid to universalize the conflict, as well as a means to address their discursive positioning as outsiders and its problematic implications.