Nina Popovic, an 18-year-old Croat Catholic, and Harun Hasanagic, a 23-year-old Bosniak Muslim, run a scene from the Tempest.

Last year Dartmouth University students lead young Bosnian actors in a production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. The production is significant in that it includes Bosnian Muslims and Croat Catholics: two groups caught up in the bloody civil war just a decade ago. The play is an ostensible attempt to bring former would-be enemies together and heal the wounds of past horrors in order to move forward in a more peaceful and productive manner. The idea that the arts can be an antidote to destruction and warfare is nothing new. During the American Civil War the play Uncle Tom’s Cabin was a cathartic, not to mention hugely successful, theatrical event. West Side Story, another Shakespearean tale of revenge and reconciliation, has been translated into Japanese, Hungarian, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, French, Russian–and the list goes on.

This Thanksgiving, we can all be thankful we’re involved in such a profound and important human endeavor: creating art! And we’re particularly fortunate to be doing business in film production where working together toward a common goal is absolutely essential. American films are hugely influential throughout the world, and a common bond shared with cultures we know little of. When folks get together and create something that moves people, it has the potential to transcend politics, regional borders, gender, race, and even long-standing historical conflicts. We can move the world toward healing through our art. We really can.

Nina Popovic, an 18-year-old Croat Catholic says of her participation in The Tempest, and of the civil war that haunts her country, “We are young people who want to do something to forget everything about that stupid war.” Her fellow cast mate and Bosnian Muslim, Harun Hasanagic, has a simpler take on her involvement in one of Shakespeare’s last plays, “On stage, we don’t feel the burden of all those things. We’re just doing our work and having fun.”

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