When I was in Croatia earlier this summer, I took a tour of the beautiful small island of Hvar off the coast of Split. Part of the tour included a stop at the Hvar Public Theater right at the port. When we walked by, I noticed a Latin inscription at the entrance, ANNO SECVNDO PACIS MDCXII.  I asked my tour guide for more details, as I recognized the word “Pacis”. She told me it translates to “the second year of our peace 1612.” As an ADR teacher, of course I asked for more details.

As I learned, the theater was built in 1612 as part of an agreement to resolve a long-standing feud in the community between social classes (the nobles and the commoners) that had been warring with each other for decades. Before 1612, public theaters did not exist in Europe. Rather, they were for-profit private enterprises, meaning only the richer members of the community could attend. However, Hvar was one of the literary and cultural centers of the Dalmatian region in the 17th century. To open up the theater’s productions to the entire community of Hvar, nobles and commoners alike, a ruler at the time (I didn’t catch the name) came up with the highly innovative idea to create a publicly–funded theater.

The Hvar Public Theater thus became the first public theater in Europe. Not only is it beautifully restored today (reopened to the public in 2019), but it is a shining example of how creatively adding an integrative term to a negotiation can resolve seemingly intractable disputes.