In the Midst of Crisis Art Prevails

Tragedy, like many other forms of crisis, produces a different response although experienced by the same people. Susan Sontag, a visitor to Sarajevo highlights the chaos and destruction caused by the siege by producing Act 1 of Waiting for Godot. The artistic element, a play is used to highlight the effects of the siege on Sarajevo which would not be done without the arrival of Sontag. Although limited to the number of art that remained, Sarajevo uses the theater, the most broken and destroyed aspect of the culture to produce a social critique about Europe and its affect on the people during the siege.

The theater, the most valued and cherished aspect of Sarajevo experienced the greatest affliction during the siege water. Sontag notes that this attack was directed at the theater because it represented a community. Sontag notes” A building in which people gather so predictably would be too tempting a target for the Serb guns; anyway, there is no electricity to run a projector” ( 89).  These challenges that Sontag experienced supports the idea that the most valued aspect of the Sarajevan culture was indeed the theater. However, the siege war affected this area greatly which led to the loss of culture and value when the theaters were closed.


Despite this challenge and many others, Sontag realized the beauty in the theater and those who were a part of it before the siege. The theater, the is the aspect of Sarajevan culture that Sontag capitalized to produce beauty of art in the midst of tragedy. The play is a product of the tragedy which is the only outlet by which the Sarajevans can express a little happiness which has been taken away from them at the time of the siege. Although going to the theater was a risk, the play provided the people with an opportunity to forget their traumatic reality which stood behind the play for a few hours per day. However, the play serves as a constant reminder that the siege has taken away their happiness by banning theaters from conducting plays outside of the small concert that occasionally rehearses there.  The play also helps them to realize that tragedy in which they now live must be accepted in order to survive in such a place.

Furthermore, the art prevails in Sarajevo as Sontag revives the theatre through the production “Waiting for Godot”.Sontag states” there is sometimes no better feeling than having one’s sense of reality affirmed and transfigured by art”( 89). Sontag underscores how important art is providing sanity and hope in the midst of tragedy.




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