For the last few days we’ve been in the incredible city of Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We’ve been here to perform Backstage in Biscuit Land (BIBL) as part of the MESS, an arts festival that’s been running for over 50 years.
Leftwing Idiot went to do some paperwork in the MESS office yesterday and came back raving about all the amazing posters they have on the wall from past festivals. This year’s poster is pretty good too – it’s Donald Trump’s hair!
We’ve got a Donald Trump baby-grow amongst our props for BIBL, so for yesterday’s performance, we balanced out our set by having the baby-grow on one side of the stage and a copy of the brochure on the other.
I had no idea how audiences in Sarajevo would respond to BIBL because for many the show wouldn’t be in their first language, and also because lots of my tics are culturally specific.
But I needn’t have worried, the show last night felt amazing. The audience was really warm and they seemed to enjoy their time in Biscuit Land as much as we’ve enjoyed our stay in Sarajevo.
It’s an amazing city with a great atmosphere – everyone seems incredibly friendly. Before we arrived a friend who’d visited before said it was a city that wore its history on its sleeve, and it does this in lots of interesting ways.
There’s Stan Grad, the old part of the city, with its winding lanes and low-rise buildings. From there you cross the old city wall into wide streets lined with grand Austro-Hungarian architecture, and scattered throughout the city are the simple shapes of communist-era buildings. And there are the marks of shells, and bullet holes, from when the city was under siege during the Bosnian War, from 1992 to 1996.
As well as its history, it seemed to wear its heart on its sleeve too. Everyone we met was generous, friendly and open. We were extremely well looked after by our host, the MESS team, and by the British Council in Bosnia who supported the trip.
One thing I did find challenging, though, was access. While some buildings had decent wheelchair access lots didn’t, and most toilets weren’t accessible at all. The challenges that disabled people face in Bosnia is something that came up a lot in the workshop we held this morning. I worked with a group of disabled and non-disabled people, sharing ideas about relaxed performance and how we’ve been using art and humour to create change in the UK.
I’ll be sad to leave Sarajevo, and very much hope to come back in the future.
Thank you to everyone who made our stay so wonderful.