A different class
This article is from 2008.
Haris Pasovic’s production of Nigel Williams’ Class Enemy transports the action from late 70s South London to post-civil war Sarajevo, as Mark Fisher discovers
When Nigel Williams’ Class Enemy made its debut at London’s Royal Court in 1978, hip hop was still a phenomenon of the American underground. It would never have occurred to a director to incorporate it into this portrayal of a bunch of teenagers in a dead-end London secondary school. But when director Haris Pasovic came to re-imagine the play for a post-civil war generation of Sarajevo youth, the musical genre – along with sniffing glue and carrying guns – seemed a fitting part of the landscape.
In the interests of authenticity, he tracked down two real-life hip hoppers for the job. ‘I’m working with the East West Centre by accident,’ says Samir Karic, a journalism student from the small town of Kalesija in eastern Bosnia. ‘My colleague Amir Muminovic and I are hip hoppers and one of our songs criticised the mayor of the town. After one performance in a club, the son of the mayor attacked us. The story ended up in the daily newspapers and, after reading the article, Haris invited us to be a part of the performance.’
‘Hip hop came as a natural in this world,’ says the director. ‘The songs that they sing are the monologues just put in hip hop form.’
Class Enemy, Royal Lyceum Theatre, 473 2000, 20–23 Aug, 8pm, £10–£25.