Nihad Kreševljaković

Importance of Siege Experience in Today’s Sarajevo War Theatre Mission

The siege of Sarajevo was the longest siege in contemporary human history. One of the characteristics of this period was an amazing response of artists to situation they faced. As the result of that, artistic scene of Sarajevo in period 1992-19995 was one of the most interesting  periods in all history of art in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Art and culture as the mean with the capacity for the improvement of the quality of life and social values are the starting point of theatrical activities of SARTR. Sarajevo War Theatre is the youngest theatre company established in Sarajevo, and especially specific is the fact that the establishment of this theatre is related to the period of siege of Sarajevo.  The establishment of the theatre under that circumstances is actually one of the elements that supports the idea of a phenomenon which in that period has been recognized under the term of „cultural resistance“ as the man’s need in the hardest of times to identify culture and art, in this case theatre, as the basic and completely natural human need. It is precisely that fact the one that gives a certain credibility to this Institution.

I’ll try through personal experiences to desribe our tries and efforts to create Sarajevo War Theatre an place which will base it is work on our artistic experiences from period of the siege in wish to become a relevant place of exploration theatrical forms and social activism not just in Bosnia, but in the region and broader.

It is valid that the artistic and especially theatrical experience from the mentioned period when SARTR was established tells about the existence of the man who is capable to draw a message even from the most terrible experiences seeking for what could make him a better man. Also, the intensity of the war experience, as a negative so as the positive one has obviously been so strong that even today it is a part of our society.

Generally, this lecture is based on personal experiences as well as on the experiences of the ordinary citizens and its views on artistic responses to   situation in Sarajevo, then – during the siege and now – in post war Sarajevo.

Based on war experiences we follow what happened after the war and what is reflection of war experience, as well as transitional experience to audience, young people and artistic community of Sarajevo.


Nihad Kreševljaković was born on February 24th, 1973, in Sarajevo. Since the end of 2011, he works as the director of Sarajevo War Theatre. He used to work in International Theatre Festival MESS since 1994, as an executive producer since 2004. He graduated from the University of Sarajevo, Faculty of Philosophy, Department of History. Realizing the extreme importance of the siege of Sarajevo and the war, he documented events and daily life under the siege with his camera. This activity resulted in a video-library that holds over a 1000 hours of recorded materials, leading to formation of the local NGO Videoarchive. He is the author of a significant number of documentaries. Together with his twin brother Sead Kreševljaković, he is the editor of one of the most popular blogs in B&H, The two brothers are also coauthors of the documentary film Do you remember Sarajevo? Since 2005 he also works as artistic director of Memory Module, a special program of International Theatre Festival MESS.