Theater bombing draws Paro home

by Martha I. Fernandez
Features Editor

Georgji Paro, a visiting theater director from Croatia, may return to his homeland earlier than planned due to a bomb that hit the National Theater, which he manages, Tuesday night.

Paro was informed of the disaster when his secretary at the theater called him at about 4 a.m. Wednesday. As of now, he plans to stay until Monday, but confesses that if summoned, he will leave as soon as possible.

Paro hopes to stay until Monday to be present at the first series of “Medea” performances set to begin this weekend. Paro is directing the Greek tragedy during his visit to ULV.

“’Medea’ can go on without me,” he said. “I have to be back with the people I’m responsible for and share their fate.”

The theater, located in the capitol city of Zagreb, was hit around 9:30 p.m. when Serbs bombed the building, injuring 17 dancers rehearsing inside.

“War is a terrifying thing. But this isn’t a war, it is an act of terrorism,” he said.

The glass ceiling collapsed, shattering as it hit the concrete. The injured dancers mainly suffered cuts and none have been reported as critical.

“It is such a fragile profession, that if they’re injured, who knows if they can dance again,” he said.

The building was hit by a missile-driven cluster bomb which Paro describes as a mass of shell-like bombs that scatter once they hit the ground.

“Cluster bombs are dedicated to children,” Paro said. “They’re very beautiful and are meant to be picked up.”

He said that after the explosion, a metal plate with the words “Croatian National Theater” imprinted on it was found among the debris.

“They were saluting what they did,” he said.

The bomb was one of six that hit the Croatian capitol this week. Also bombed were the children’s hospital and the Croatian Academy of Art and Sciences, the first target. At this first bombing about 200 people were injured and five were found dead.

Paro believes that the Serbs are trying to destroy cultural centers of the city.

“It’s cultural identity that they’re after,” he said. “They want to scare people with the bomb.”

For the past two years, the theater has been working on forming an international ballet company. Dancers and choreographers from Croatia, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Slovenia and the Czech Republic were some of the countries involved in the production.

“The project was ballet dancers from various countries to make an international company,” he said. “Croatia National Theater was chosen to create that company because it has an excellent ballet theater.”

The company was to perform three original ballet pieces by Dutch choreographers and tour Europe this summer and fall.

After the bomb, those who could leave returned to their homelands.

“After this, the project will not be done,” said Paro.

Paro has been the artistic and general manager for the past four years, when he was appointed to the position by the minister of culture.

Paro’s family has been reported to be fine and uninjured in the bombings.

The incident may also put a dent in the plans of a few theater students who were planning to travel to Croatia in the summer to take part in a theater festival.

The city of Split on the coast of the Adriatic Sea hosts the activity, which would have added some American acclaim this summer.

“I wanted to introduce some sort of international theater campus,” he said.

Paro was appointed to make a connection with American universities to host workshops and training with the goal of performing a production at the end of the summer.

“With this kind of instability in Croatia, you can never tell,” he said. “Maybe we’ll do it if the war cools off. If not we’ll have to wait another year.”

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