Skip to main content

A series of post-conflict dialogues between Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Herzegovina and South Africa: 4-8th June 2011.


Drama Studies and The Belfast/Sarajevo Initiative at Queen’s University Belfast will be hosting a visiting professor from Johannesburg and number of guest artists and practitioners from Sarajevo who will be visiting the city from 4th – 8th June for a series of talks, screenings and collaborative work.  Connecting Voices will be launched on 4th June when Professor Jane Taylor will deliver the 2011 Brian Friel lecture at 4pm in the Brian Friel Theatre, 20 University Square.

Professor Jane Taylor holds the Skye Chair of Dramatic Art at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. Over the past decade she has been engaging with the processes of transformation in South Africa. With David Bunn she edited From South Africa (University of Chicago Press), a volume of writing, graphics and photography that documents the Years of Emergency in South Africa before the elections.??In 1996 she curated a series of cultural responses to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and wrote  the play, Ubu and the Truth Commission directed by William Kentridge and produced by Handspring Puppet Company (War Horse).

The Belfast Sarajevo Initiative was set up in 2008 in order to explore the possibility of establishing a creative dialogue between two cities exploring post conflict situations. The Initiative strives to promote an awareness of the creative progress in the two cities and encourage a dialogue with artists and practitioners sharing experience and practice.

Over the last 3 years, the Belfast/Sarajevo Initiative in collaboration with Queen’s University Belfast and the Academy of Performing Arts in Sarajevo has produced and facilitated a number of projects in the areas of theatre, photography and film.  Last year, Queen’s University Belfast signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Academy of Performance Art in Sarajevo to undertake exchanges of staff and students. Connecting Voices will bring together young people from both cities to work in supportive collaboration with professional artistic mentors in the creation of an original theatre piece that will be performed at the MESS International Theatre Festival in Sarajevo in October, 2011.

Alongside the series of workshops with students from Queen’s University and the Academy of Performing Arts in Sarajevo, Queen’s will be presenting a series of film screenings by Northern Ireland film makers Cathal Mc Loughlin and Declan Keeney whose most recent film about the work of the Belfast/Sarajevo Initiative in Sarajevo will be shown alongside his documentary of the Theatre of Witness theatre project in Northern Ireland.  Bosnian film maker and producer, Elma Tataragic will be in attendance to present a series of films that deal with the aftermath of conflict in the former Yugoslavia alongside director, Faruk Loncarevic. The week’s events will  include an exhibition of photographs from local artists, Sean McKernan and Frankie Quinn who visited Sarajevo just after the siege ended and whose photographs of the ravaged city will be displayed alongside a new collection of work that documents the city 17 years after the end of the siege.

Coordinator of the Belfast/Sarajevo Initiative, Michelle Young said, “While Belfast and Sarajevo have endured terrible conflicts, both cities have emerged from these conflicts to become major centres for culture and arts. This project aims to look at how art in all its forms – from photography, to theatre, to film – can document a conflict, record the conflict-transformation process, and help remember the past.”

Film maker, Elma Tataragic said, Both Belfast and Sarajevo share a similar history of conflict and are still in some ways, divided. Situated at the very edges of Europe, these distant cities often feel stranded from the centre of the action – on the margin – struggling to find its place in the future while negotiating the legacies of a turbulent past. With both Belfast and Sarajevo still bearing the scars of conflict amidst a flourishing arts scene, this concept will allow us to ask if our histories are more real than our stories. Can history be changed by our memories? And how can our stories shape the Europe of today and tomorrow?’

Professor Anna McMullan, Chair of Drama at Queen’s, said: “This project will not only help us better understand the important role of the arts in conflict transformation – it will also strengthen links between Queen’s and the Academy of Performing Arts in Sarajevo, and between the vibrant arts communities in both cities.”

This project is supported by the School of Languages, Literatures and Performing Arts and Drama Studies at Queen’s University, Student-Led Initiative at Queen’s, the Academy of Performing Arts in Sarajevo and the British Council.

For more information, please contact Michelle Young at or the Belfast/Sarajevo Initiative at

Download the Schedule of Events