United Nations uses theatre in Kosovo to help people deal with the pain of loss

January 2006 -

The fate of 2,500 people who went missing during the war in Kosovo is still unknown. In Pristina, the Center for Children’s Theatre Development is collaborating with the United Nations Mission in Kosovo’s Office on Missing Persons and Forensics on a theatrical project known as Voices. As part of this project, relatives of Serbian and Albanian people who are still missing take an active role in the writing of history, which helps them to deal with the pain inflicted on them by the war.

Voices, Kosovo

© Center for Children’s Theatre Development (Kosovo)

Jonathan Chadwick, artistic director of London’s Az Theatre, is closely involved in the Voices project as the director. ‘We have interviewed family members and used this material to create scenes in the play, with our aim being to get the audience to identify collectively rather than individually with what they see on stage. Our experience is that in many cases people no longer have any pleasant memories of their missing relatives. They have an image burned on their retinas of their last time they saw their loved ones, and this image often becomes an obsession for them. We also found out that people’s imagination has completely disappeared, lost in their day-to-day life after the war. This creates a deep-rooted loneliness, with people feeling homeless inside. When an actor portrays the pain and dilemmas on stage, the audience’s reaction shows that the first step has been taken on the road to ending the vicious circle of loneliness and the feeling of being a victim. The feeling that someone else recognises your pain helps people to deal with and get over their trauma.’

The plays have been performed in Serbian and Albanian. The interviews have been published in a book that has appeared in the above two languages and in English.