"A place with a soul," is what admirers tend to call Sarajevo's Youth Theatre. A place with an identity of its own, this institution is one of those special spots each city has. Its history began in 1950 when two theaters were founded in Sarajevo: the Children's Theatre and the Puppet Theatre. In the sixties, these two institutions merged and changed their name to the Youth Theatre, whose goal was clear from the beginning: to stage projects that would attract increasing numbers of young people.
The new playhouse changed its repertoire and brought in leading directors and artists from throughout the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Europe. Its two separate stages - one for puppet shows and the other for plays - hosted numerous productions and premiers, while its members toured the world.
The operation and development of the Youth Theatre was not hindered even by the war, which broke out in Bosnia-Herzegovina in mid 1992. As all of Sarajevo, the Theatre was subject to daily bombings and sniper fire. Under such circumstances, with half its members gone and in a dilapidated building, the Theatre kept its doors open, thereby "fully participating in the defense of the City and culture against aggression and primitivism," as one will hear them say today. The Theatre's director and actor Nermin Tulić was gravely injured at the onset of the war, loosing both his legs, but, as the playhouse itself, has successfully returned to the stage.
"The first time I, so to speak, stood again on the stage to act, I was terrified whether people would look at my face, at what I was playing, or at what was missing. It was my phobia, it kept me awake for nights. It was then that I won - when I finished my first show," said Tulić, describing his stage fright after being severely wounded.
Still, with a note of irony, he believes that wartime was "the best time for working in the theatre because," as he puts it, "then people loved the theatre." "I've said publicly on television, having risked being misinterpreted, that I regretted that the war was over," Tulić recalls.