Slovenes in the USA Interviews Stefanie Zadravec

October 11, 2011

This content is sourced from Slovenes in the USA.

It was only a few years ago that Stefanie Zadravec made her playwright debut as a contributing writer for The Fear Project. Since then she has been a rising star in the world of theater. Stefanie’s work has been recognized by numerous awards, of which some are listed on her webpage. But perhaps the best indicator of the quality of her work is the swiftness with which the production companies are putting her work on stage.

Honey Brown Eyes, a play by Zadravec that won the prestigious Helen Hayes Award for Best New Play or Musical in 2009, is currently on stage at the San Francisco Playhouse.

Could you briefly tell us about Honey Brown Eyes?
Honey Brown Eyes is set during the first year of the Bosnian War. It follows two former bandmates, now soldiers on opposite sides whose lives are forever changed by women the war has stranded in their kitchens.

You were in college when the war in Bosnia escalated. How did you decide to write a play about the events that are so hurtfully recent for the affected nations yet so distant for the American public that followed them from afar?
When I set out to write a war play, I didn’t feel like an authority on any war. I do know people from Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Kosovo, whose stories made me want to understand it better. Reading about the systematic rape of 20,000 women, the genocide and the abrupt way the war broke out, seemed like something we should be talking about. The more I researched, the less it felt like a war over there and more like something I could imagine happening in any modern city, anywhere. The characters in this play could be any of us. They are us.

Is the play based on true events or actual people? How did you research the war?
I culled details from interviews and published personal accounts of the war and wove my story and characters out of the stories I gathered. The actual plot of this play is fictional, but I took great pains to make sure that it could be a true story.

I do not know how the Honey Brown Eyes ends, but do you think there is hope for people in Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia to live together again?
Honey Brown Eyes is the story of what it takes for an individual to reclaim their humanity. In all cases I think that requires some measure of contrition, selflessness and courage. I don’t pretend to know what it will take for Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia to live together again. I have met people for whom reconciliation is out of the question, and I have met others who would like to move on in some unified way. I understand both impulses. I think the most important thing is not to deny the facts of the war.

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