Performing Artists for Balkan Peace - New US-Balkan arts network presents at the International Festival of Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina

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Performing Artists for Balkan Peace, a New US-Balkan arts network, presents their nine-country collaboration, BLOOD AND HONEY August 18-31, hosted by the International Festival of Authorial Poetics in Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina.

The Performing Artists for Balkan Peace (PABP) will present the Festival debut of their historic, nine-country collaboration, Blood and Honey, at the International Festival of Authorial Poetics in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, from August 18-31, 2006. Bond Street Theatre of New York, in collaboration with Theatre Tsvete of Bulgaria, initiated the idea for the performance-oriented network and worked toward its formation over the last six years of performing together throughout the Balkans. The Mostar Festival presents an opportunity for the PABP network to open its membership to new artists, and create three new, large-scale, site-specific performances about current Balkan issues involving Festival participants and the local artist community of Mostar. The project is supported with funds from TCG-International Theatre Institute and the European Cultural Foundation.

The Performing Artists for Balkan Peace is an active network of artists who engage in cross-border collaboration as a means to peace and mutual understanding in the Balkan region and beyond. Responding to concerns expressed by local artists who feel isolated by difficult borders, lack of funds for travel, and little communication between countries, Bond Street Theatre and Theatre Tsvete saw a great need for active, cross-border, artistic collaboration, and created a mechanism for bringing groups together.

The inaugural meeting of the Performing Artists for Balkan Peace was held in May-June 2005, a creative, stimulating and fruitful event. Theatre practitioners from 10 companies from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Greece, England and the United States, convened in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria, and, together, successfully pioneered an historic artistic collaboration.

Five directors and twenty-two actors from regions still sensitive from recent wars succeeded in creating a fully collaborative theatre production titled Blood and Honey that addresses the issues currently facing all of the Balkan countries. The artist-created piece speaks to the universal challenges facing a region recovering from fifteen years of war and displacement and encourages unity to insure progress on all fronts -- economic, social and artistic. Audiences in Blagoevgrad and Sofia, Bulgaria, enthusiastically enjoyed the play.

At the close of first session of the PABP, the founding companies made plans to initiate a website, strengthen its organizational structure, and encourage international expansion, goals that will be addressed in Mostar this August in conjunction with the International Festival of Authorial Poetics.

The Mostar Festival is a widely attended international event held annually and organized by Mostar Youth Theatre, a founding PABP member. The Festival will introduce a wide range of professional and emerging artists from around the world to the PABP, and provide the opportunity for artists to work together and present the product of their collaborations to the public.

The city of Mostar, a medieval gem in Bosnia-Herzegovina, is well-known for its gracefully arched 16th century bridge, an engineering feat of its time. The bridge, tragically destroyed during the war in 1993, was a symbolic link between the Muslim and Christian communities that bordered each side of the river. Reconstruction of the bridge was just completed in Spring 2004.

The Performing Artists for Balkan Peace promotes the use of theatre as an attractive and effective means to stimulate peace by encouraging artistic collaboration across borders, ethnicities and languages. The founding companies are: Dah Teatar (Serbia and Montenegro), Mostar Youth Theatre (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Theatre Boemi (Macedonia), Teatri Petro Marko (Albania), Theatre Dodona (Kosovo), PAC Multimedia (Macedonia), Theatre Tsvete (Bulgaria), Bond Street Theatre (USA), and Polygon Arts (UK).

The project has received support in the past from the Trust for Mutual Understanding, the ProHelvetia Fund, CEC ArtsLink, TCG-International Theatre Institute, and Arts International, and current support from the European Cultural Foundation among others.

Bond Street Theatre of New York City, an ensemble company with a 25-year history of creating international arts projects, advocates for the use of the arts in conflict zones, post-war environments, and in nations where cultural diplomacy is crucially needed. The company has created artistic and social projects in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Israel, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil and China.

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Meghan Frank