22 March 2009


No time today to get involved in another travelogue, so I thought I'd post a snippet--an important snippet--from the Observer review section published the Sunday before we left for France. If Susan Sontag is remembered for nothing else, this would be enough. As we move from war to war, depressing headline to depressing headline, it's easy to forget the human resilience revealed in this short interview about one of yesterday's wars, yesterday's headlines.

For other emotionally charged productions of Waiting for Godot, see http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2009/mar/08/samuel-beckett-waiting-for-godot

Sarajevo, 1993

Haris Pasovic

Produced Susan Sontag's staging [of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot] in the besieged Sarajevo in 1993. Now director, East West Theatre Company in Bosnia.

"Susan Sontag came to Sarajevo in 1993; her son David was reporting on the war, and she offered to help in whatever way she could. Her decision to stage Waiting for Godot helped make history: the production brought so much media attention to Sarajevo. Ultimately it was the journalists who saved Sarajevo and the production of Waiting for Godot played a role in that. At one point the Washington Post referred to the play as "Waiting for Clinton" and we were very happy with this connection.

"Susan initially wanted to stage Beckett's Happy Days, but when I explained that what we were doing in Sarajevo was waiting, she decided on Waiting for Godot. At that time, people really thought it was just a matter of time before somebody would rescue the city. It was outrageous that, at the end of the 20th century, on live TV, the world could see daily bombardments of the city, and do nothing. Every single day we thought that our Godot would come and every night we understood that he wouldn't.

"The production featured three different couples playing Vladimir and Estragon, one all-female, one all-male and one mixed. I liked this staging because it suggested that the couple's plight was universal. People risked their lives coming five to 10km on foot to the theatre because there was no public transport. We performed by candlelight because there was no electricity. Trying to find candles was a major problem, as was the malnourishment of all of our actors. Susan stole rolls for them from her hotel breakfast. Yes, it was a struggle to put on the show, but it brought our message to the world."

Imogen Carter

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