“Cheers to Sarajevo”, a new locally written play on an international theme, has just returned from its international premiere in Austria to critical acclaim.
Written by Aimee Goldsmith and Lidija Marelic, it is directed by Lidija Marelic (Naledi Nominee 2016 – Best New Emerging Voice) with assistant director Larice Kell and designer Kayli Elit Smith. The production stars five young actors with already established names in the industry – Duanne Behrens, Aimee Goldsmith, Chris van Rensburg, Yiorgo Sotoropolis and Julian Kruger.
It is December 1991, Post World War II. Yugoslavia is about to erupt in a civil war as different regions fight for their independence. Where religions, cultures and languages once represented the country’s rich diversity it now becomes the catalyst for unimaginable atrocity. Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia Herzegovina is at its epicentre; and Bosnia has since been immortalised as one of the worst cases of ethnic cleansing in the history of Europe. It is here that the play unfolds.
Peter, a young South African photo-journalist, finds himself torn away from his team. In order to find his way back to them he begins his journey, cutting through the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo. Upon arrival, Peter captures a photograph of Mirela and Aleksander’s forbidden love affair. Using this photograph as blackmail, he is able to lure Mirela into being his guide to return to his team. Before they have a chance to leave Bosnia, the siege of Sarajevo begins and they find themselves at the centre of the civil war.
As the story develops, friendship, love and loyalty is questioned. The realities of war become raw and any sense of heroism falls away. Serbian nationalism comes up against Bosnian culture and tries to cut through the most basic form of human interaction – love. How does Peter’s loss of innocence, Mirela’s impulsive instinct and Aleksander’s never-ending pride help these three people survive the same war?
“We feel an absolute urgency to tell this story so it is remembered and never forgotten. So much of what happened in Sarajevo was about violence against difference. Without expressing our traumatized past we merely manifest war into our daily mentality. A mentality of destruction perpetuated into our homes as rape, into our friendships as betrayal and ultimately into our society as apathy. This story is about the endurance of the human spirit to overcome insurmountable acts of violence and hate. It brings message of healing, history and love that is relevant not only on our own soil but to the world.” – Aimèe & Lidija
There will be 6 performances per week at the Auto & General Theatre on the Square, including two shows on Saturdays at 18:00 and 20:30. Call the theatre on 011 883 8606 or book online:www.ticketpro.com. Enquire about group discounts and dinner show bookings by arrangement with many of the adjacent upmarket new restaurants on the Nelson Mandela Square at Sandton City.