Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Taking the Bard to Bosnia

  • Print

Among the mostly Muslim Bosnians, Catholic Croats and Orthodox Serbs who make up the cast of Twelfth Night currently touring Bosnia-Herzegovina is a 20-year-old Winnipegger.

Maclean Boyd is one of three Canadian student actors performing in the multilingual play, produced by Youth Bridge Global, an international non-profit organization that stages theatre in under-resourced areas of the world. The idea behind the initiative is to use theatre to foster friendships among youth of former warring populations.

The multi-ethnic cast performed twice in Mostar last weekend, in Nik°ic, Montenegro, on Tuesday and then made several stops in Bosnia this weekend.

"We perform in a variety of cities, ranging from Sarajevo (this weekend) to places like Stolac, which were very affected by the war and still have segregated schools," says Boyd, a Riverview resident studying at the University of New Brunswick. "It is important to perform in cities like this because it not only allows the audience to be exposed to live theatre, which is uncommon there, but allows them to see a team of multi-ethnic youth working positively together."

In a place like Mostar, still deeply divided along ethnic lines, the words, "Pursue him and entreat him to a peace," resonate deeply when they are spoken by a Croat Catholic, playing Count Orsino, to a Bosnian Muslim portraying Malvolio. Two decades ago, such a scene would have been unimaginable -- onstage or in real life. Adding to the occasion is that Twelfth Night is set in Illyria, the ancient name for the western part of the Balkan peninsula.

This the sixth Shakespearean production mounted in Bosnia by Youth Bridge Global, which has also staged performances since 2004 in the Marshall Islands, China, Russia and Rwanda. Twelfth Night drew a total of 400 people to the two Mostar dates, which were staged in the ruins of the old city library, an ugly reminder of the war.

"The audience reacted very positively to our show, and loved scenes like the boxtree sequence, which has a lot of physical humour," Boyd says. "I've never seen an audience get so into Shakespeare in Canada, which was exciting to see."

Boyd is studying interdisciplinary leadership at UNB, a program that includes a 10-week internship abroad.

Last year, two of Boyd's roommates went to Rwanda; after hearing about their amazing experience, he wanted in. He approached Andrew Garrod, a former University of Manitoba professor who is directing Twelfth Night.

"Our director speaks of the relevance of Twelfth Night in its relation to gender and sexuality," says Boyd in a recent email exchange. "While (the play is) a comedy, the love triangles and disguised gender have great global significance and, if nothing else, allow our cast and audiences to safely think about how that has an effect on society."

About 60 per cent of the bilingual play is presented in the local language, with the rest performed in Shakespearean iambic pentameter. Boyd is one of 40 in the cast, which ranges in age from 15 to 25, who took part in six weeks of rehearsal. He's also is in charge of all the props and helping to train the performers for the dance numbers that open and close the show.

"My background in mostly in dance," says Boyd, who performed in the musicals Guys and Dolls and Footloose at Churchill High School. "I have been a traditional Irish dancer with the McConnell School of Dance for 15 years.

"After being taught a traditional wedding dance here by the cast, I had the opportunity to spend an afternoon giving them an Irish dance workshop, and I think that shows what is so special about Youth Bridge Global. It is all about learning from one another and spending time together."

Boyd will be in Bosnia until Aug. 29, and will return to Winnipeg at the end of September.

"I see myself either teaching dance or becoming involved in one of Winnipeg's many arts and cultural festivals, like Folklorama," he says.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 23, 2014 G9

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Top 5: Famous facts about the Stanley Cup

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • horse in sunset - marc gallant

View More Gallery Photos


What do you think of the government's announcement that there will be no balanced provincial budget until 2018?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google