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Haris Pasovic, theater director ahead of its time

Monday, 04/25/2011|08:21 | Source: eKapija

Haris Pašović (49) has been one of the leading theater directors in South East Europe for more than two decades. His education includes the Academy of Arts in Novi Sad, ex Yugoslavia; the Fulbright Scholarship in the USA (University of Hawaii, Honolulu, New York University and the University of Wisconsin, Madison); the UNESCO High Levels for Directors, Festival d’Avignon, France, and other professional trainings (Denmark, UK). He is the artistic leader of the East West Theatre Company in Sarajevo and Professor of Directing at the Performing Arts Academy in Sarajevo.

He directed in some of the most important theatres in the former Yugoslavia and participated in a number of festivals worldwide. His productions of Frank Wedekind’s “Spring’s Awakening” and “Calling the Birds” based on Aristophanes’ play “The Birds” (both at the Yugoslav Drama Theatre, Belgrade1987/90) have been considered as the landmarks in the theatre of the former Yugoslavia. Likewise, Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” (Belgrade Drama Theatre) and Alfred Jarry’s “Ubu Roi” (National Theatre Subotica) have been considered as the classic productions in the ex-Yugoslav theatre, the former being the last Yugoslav premiere performed on the eve of the war in the country. As the artistic leader of theatre “Promena” (“Change”), Pasovic directed with a great success Wiess’ “Marat/Sade”; Wedensky’s “The Christmas Three at the Ivanovs”; Kis’ “Simon the Magus” on a lake surrounded by sand desert; Bunuel’s “Hamlet” placed in the fortress sitting on a rock rising from the Adriatic Sea (Dubrovnik Summer Festival) and many other plays.

During the siege of Sarajevo (1992-95) Pasovic spent most of the time in Sarajevo managing the MES International Theatre Festival. He directed plays and produced several shows, among others “Waiting for Godot”, directed by Susan Sontag. This work with Sontag has been reported across the globe. In 1993, while Sarajevo was still under the siege, he also organized the first Sarajevo Film Festival “Beyond the End of the World”. Pasovic managed even to tour in 1994 in several European countries (under the UNESCO auspices) with the Sarajevo Festival Ensemble invited by Peter Brook and the Bouffe du Nord Theatre. During the tour, the Ensemble preformed two productions he had directed in the besieged city: “Silk Drums” based on the Noh plays, and “In the Country of Last Things”, based on Paul Auster’s novel.

After the war, Pasovic directed several documentaries including “Greta”, a story on Prof. Greta Ferusic who survived both Auschwitz and the siege of Sarajevo; a documentary trilogy entitled “Home,” “Love Thy Neighbor” and “The Balkans – Blood and Honey” about the American journalists David Rieff, Peter Maass and Ron Haviv, who had reported from the Bosnian war and an art documentary entitled “A Propos de Sarajevo” about the Sarajevo International Jazz Festival. These documentaries were shown at the New York Jewish Film Festival in Lincoln Centre, the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, as well as at the Museum of Modern Arts in Stockholm, the Contemporary Arts Institute in London, at the IDFA Festival in Amsterdam, the Mediterranean Film Festival in Rome, as well as at the Sarajevo Film Festival and several others.

In 2002, he made a spectacular comeback to theatre directing Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” in front of the Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina in downtown Sarajevo. This was a brave futuristic production about a Muslim Romeo and a Christian Juliet, which involved 25 actors and live musicians, 1000 sq. m of stage, a 60-member crew, arms, vehicles, fireworks, video projections across the façade of the Parliament building and has stopped the traffic in the main city artery for 4 hours each night it was performed. In 2004, Pasovic wrote a play “Rebellion at the National Theatre”, inspired by McCoy’s novel “They Shoot the Horses, Don’t They?” and directed it at the National Theatre in Sarajevo.

Pasovic has received many awards including the Best Director Award at the MES International Theatre Festival, Sarajevo; the Best Director at BITEF, Belgrade; the Best Yugoslav Director, UCHIMURA Prize, the Best Director at the Festival of Bosnian Theatres, etc. His shows as well as the actors and other artists working with Pasovic have received numerous awards as well.

In 2005, Pasovic established the East West Theatre Company. He directed William Shakespeare’s «Hamlet» as the biggest regional co-production in the last 20 years with an international cast. «Hamlet» was named as the Theatrical Event of the Year 2005, while Pasovic was named the Person of the Year 2005 /Theatre. In 2006, Pasovic directed a futuristic FAUST with the prominent regional cast and Vitrac’s “Victor or the Children in Power” at the ZKM Theatre, Zagreb, Croatia.

In 2007, Pasovic adapted and directed “Class Enemy” by Nigel Williams that had a huge international success participating at some of the most prestigious Festivals in the world such as Edinburgh International Festival, Singapore Arts Festival, Sibiu International Festival, International Theatre Festival Kontakt Poland, Sterijino Pozorje and others. The Strait Times, the main newspaper in Singapore and The Flying Inkpot, the main theatre review portal in Singapore, chose “Class Enemy” two times as the Best Play of 2008 in Singapore. The International Jury of KONTAKT Festival in Torun, Poland awarded “Class Enemy” The Best Contemporary Play Award.

In 2009., Pasovic directed Henrik Ibsen “Nora” becoming an instant success. The play was shown in Sarajevo and toured in Macedonia at the Ohrid Summer Festival and opened an International Theatre Festival Desire in Subotica.

In 2010, Haris Pasovic was the author and the director of an international theatre dance production “Football, Football”. The play was coproduced together with East West Theatre Company, Napoli Teatro Festival, Singapore Arts Festival, Les Ballet C de la B, legendary contemporary dance company and Flota Institute from Slovenia. The play was one of the most anticipated theatre productions in the world in 2010.

Pasovic also writes plays. He wrote the plays; “Rebellion at the National Theatre”, “Ulysses”, “Silk drums”, “Bolero, Sarajevo” and “Football, Football”. He also adapted several plays including Alfred Jarry’s “Ubu Roi”, Aristophanes’ “The birds”, Nigel Williams’ “Class Enemy” and several others. He writes essays and articles.

Pasovic gave a number of workshops and master-classes for directors and actors, as well as public lectures (Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annaghmakkering, Ireland; National Theatre of Scotland/Edinburgh International Festival; Queens University, Belfast; Drama Centre Singapore; Festival Desire Subotica, Serbia, etc.).

Pasovic is a co-founder of the Directing Department at the Performing Arts Academy. Several of his students are today internationally acclaimed film directors. Pasovic lives in Sarajevo. He is a professor of the Performing Arts Academy in Sarajevo and the Bled School of Management, Slovenia, where he teaches the subject Arts and Leadership.

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