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Ilija Pujić

I was born in a war torn city of Mostar, in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Due to the war the city was divided, opportunities were limited or non-existing, and people shut themselves down physically and mentally. The fabric of humanity was torn. It’s easy to restore ruined buildings, but it’s a completely different thing with human beings. The war does more damage to the soul and mind than to the block of bricks.

Most of the institutions, at that time, hang to the strict policy of defending their national ideology and didn’t trouble with people or community. My first encounter with the art was in Mostar Youth Theatre, in a mix group of all nationalities of BiH. It was liberating experience. We discussed concerns and issues in our environment and found out that we have more things that bring us together than the ones that divide us. This started my journey of self discovery and the journey of impacting a community thorough the theatre. What I’ve learned in theatre I was applying in a summer camp as a workshop for a new generations that weren’t directly impacted by the war.

In 2011. I encountered a Youth Bridge Global, a non-profit organisation that brings theatre in divided areas with the goal of reconciliation. I acted in two of their productions, when they offered to sponsor my education in the USA, at Shakespeare&Company Institute. My dream came true. I was educated in the Institute that shaped community around itself. It was my ultimate goal to bring the knowledge to my town and to connect the art with ordinary people. Back in the institute, I was learning about growing an art community, interacting with ordinary people, interacting with war veterans, and all that through acting and theatre. After my education, I worked with Youth Bridge Global as assistant director to bring theatre in divided areas. For the last couple of years I’m connected with OKC Abrasevich. We work on creating a theatre that will speak about issues in our community.

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