I have to admit, even though I was very much looking forward to be travelling to Sarajevo on behalf of the IYMA network, I was also a little bit anxious. It was my job this festival to represent the network and to meet new people. Before I went, I didn’t really have that much time to read about Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the festival. So, I would just let it all happen to me.
The first day or two I felt a bit strange walking around in the city. Sarajevo is a city of diversity and contrasts. As I told you in the previous post, you can see the marks of the war in the city, but there are also these very clean and modern buildings. The architecture varies from the Ottoman Empire to the Austro-Hungarian period to the communist period with its grey buildings. Once you have let this sink in, you’ll see that Sarajevo is mostly a very kind and open city. Diversity is found not only in its architecture, but also in the people that live here. If you take some time to wander around in Sarajevo and look closely, you’ll find many nice places and people. At first I was wondering where all the bikes were, since I had only seen three – one of which was purely decorative. But with the lack of biking paths and cars driving like crazy, I could somehow understand.
However, that’s is not what I’m here for! MESS Festival attracts a diverse audience. What I like is that there are also many young performing artists and cultural workers visiting the festival. Next to performances of the Berliner Schaubuhne, there are also performances from people that have just graduated their schools. Besides that, MESS has different programs with which they attract young dramaturges and theater critics to visit the festival and put their thoughts into words (for example through MESS TV). What I feel is that these people are very internationally oriented, they are open to meet new people and expand their horizons (which kind of makes sense, since I am at an international theater festival, of course). I think it is inevitable for us to cross borders and look outside our own bubble in a rapidly globalizing world. It is also thanks to these people that I have really enjoyed my time here so far. We strolled around in the city, visited performances, workshops and after talks. We went to the craziest little café called Goldfish, in which everything seems to be randomly placed, but actually fit perfectly. We had rakia in a local bar, where the only other guests were two old men smoking cigarettes at the bar. We went to this antique shop that specializes in old Nazi paraphernalia and leftovers from the Olympics from 1984 (makes sense..?). We went to an old cinema that is now a bar for the hipsters of Sarajevo. And we drank beer. It was good.
And of course a big shout out to the organization of the festival! 🙂