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SARAJEVO (Reuters Life!) - A new soccer play on show in Bosnia and South Africa this month pays tribute to the transformative effects of the world's most popular sport.
"Football Football," in which Bosnian director Haris Pasovic explores the phenomenon of football and its impact on ordinary people, is possibly the biggest theater production to be staged in the impoverished Balkan country this year.
The play, which has already opened to critical and popular acclaim in Sarajevo, brings a new combination of dance and football moves to the stage, which Pasovic has called "football dance."
"Football is probably the most democratic human activity. It belongs to everyone... to poor and rich, illiterate and educated, to all races, cultures and nations," says Pasovic, whose play will be also be staged in Johannesburg this month in time to catch the World Cup fever.
"It's a game that changes peoples' lives, moves history and economy, causes a collective euphoria or depression," he said.
The play is a combination of story-telling, music, dance, drama and video, co-produced by the Sarajevo-based East West Center, Singapore Arts Festival and Napoli Theater Festival Italia.
It is set in a guns-and-drugs-ridden ghetto of Scampia in Naples, the fiefdom of Camorra, Italy's second largest mafia group. The setting is similar to the slums where some of the beautiful game's greatest players, such as Diego Maradona and Zinedine Zidane, grew up.
In the play, Scampia is home to a group of marginalized, soccer-loving young immigrants, suspended between a grim reality of their lives and unfulfilled dreams about football fame.
They are played by professional actors, ball-juggling footballers and dancers from four continents.
Their lives start to change when a foreigner arrives, wins the gang's trust and encourages them to play football, bringing them short but precious respite from oppressing reality.
The minimalist scenery of the factory is visually striking, underscored by colorful lights, dance and music performed live on stage.
Pasovic is well known for avant garde and experimental productions. In 1992 he worked with American author and political activist Susan Sontag on her candlelit "Waiting for Godot" in the then besieged Sarajevo.
Reporting by Maja Zuvela; Editing by Zoran Radosavljevic and Paul Casciato