“The strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone.”
― HENRIK IBSEN, An Enemy of the People
Post-war Prishtina, then administered by the UN, was threatened by powerful, illegal construction magnates who brutally built in every nook and cranny of the city, disregarding all rules of urbanism. In the name of neoliberalist market policies, the UN tolerated it and created a favorable environment for this destruction. This process also involved many producers of construction materials from other European countries, who had a vested interest in this “quick reconstruction.”
Architect and urban planner Rexhep Luci was attempting to bring the city under urbanist control. To the construction and manufacturing companies, corrupt political castes, opportunist media, wartime commanders, UN officials, and many others, he was “the enemy.” Rexhep Luci received several death threats and was later killed outside his apartment in Prishtina.
Winning the war but losing the peace, Prishtina today has the most polluted air in Europe. Construction companies continue abusing tens of thousands of workers employed in the construction sector by paying them low wages, making them work in extremely dangerous conditions, and not offering them health insurance. In a time span of one year, hundreds of workers of this sector are injured or die at the workplace. Their families are never recompensed.
IN FIVE SEASONS: AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE talks about “the hero compromised by the majority” and about “the responsibility of the majority as an enemy of truth and freedom” (Ibsen, via Stockman). Moreover, this play also talks about the hypocrisy of the UN’s peace missions who, in the name of political stability, peace, development, and reconstruction, turn a blind eye to Dr. Stockmanns, consequently becoming complicit in their murder.
SELECTED QUOTES ABOUT THE SHOW
“His latest – and perhaps most moving – play, In Five Seasons: An Enemy of the People, opened at the National Theatre. The play tackles the unchecked illegal construction that has seen the city of Pristina grow rapidly in the years after the war. When one architect, Rexhep Luci, made an attempt to instil order, he was killed. After that, says Neziraj, “no one dared confront the issue”. Ibsen’s Dr Stockmann, the man who takes a stand, at great personal and professional cost, by exposing the contamination of the spa water in his town in An Enemy of the People, felt like an obvious parallel. Like many of his plays, the production was directed by Neziraj’s wife, Blerta, one of the country’s leading directors.” Natasha Tripney, The Guardian
“The cold air was filled with drama. In front of us: the story of the city’s demolition through the construction of the future. Tragic reality, redone into a real tragedy. In Five Seasons: An Enemy of the People written by Jeton Neziraj and directed by Blerta Neziraj, has been bugging me since last night. An epic attempt to illustrate the destruction which we inhabit and of which we survive”. Albin Kurti, Prime Minister of Kosovo
“There’s a tendency when writing about theatre to bandy about words like ‘necessary’ and ‘bold’, in a way that can dilute their meaning, but last week in Prishtina, the capital city of Kosovo, I saw work where no other words would do. A direct and uncompromising approach was taken by In Five Seasons: An Enemy of the People – the highlight of the showcase for me, also directed by Blerta Neziraj… It used Ibsen’s play as a frame within which to explore the rampant illegal construction work that took place in Prishtina in the aftermath of the war in the name of ‘reconstruction’ . The scene of the Architect’s murder was powerfully staged by Blerta Neziraj. While her work often has a punky aesthetic, featuring striking tableaux, the waving of banners, and, in one previous production, a troupe of dancing condoms – the death scene was incredibly restrained, played out on the side of stage, it was a stark and quiet scene, the Architect’s life seeping from him in the dark”. Natasha Tripney, The Stage
“In Five Seasons: An Enemy of the People” speaks about the fate of Rexhep Luci, an urban planner from Pristina killed in 2000, unsuccessfully resisting the local construction mafia. Luci had his own plans for urban developments that included parks and public transportation, but he was faced with the construction mafia and they killed him. The play tells of the increasing isolation in the city’s planning. Once you get out of the theatre, the everyday traffic chaos of Pristina is the first thing that your eye picks, this speaks about the emergency of the implementation of such plans. The five season in the play’s title is a metaphor for a new season, in which change and transformation will be possible. […] On an artistic level, productions such as “In Five Seasons…” can freely be performed internationally”. Tom Mustroph, neues deutschland
“For me, the play sums up the story of Kosovo’s post-war criminal capture. […] The unlikely hero is an architect, who is trying to publish and implement a municipal urban plan to stop illegal building. The architect’s vision is to design a living city with green parks and play areas, and space to breathe. Naturally, his long-term plan conflicts with the immediate profitable concerns of a building tycoon. This mafia boss is erecting skyscrapers overnight and wants to build a new super development called Sun City. He has bribed, threatened or cajoled the very people who are meant to safeguard the city – its international administrator, a top investigative journalist, and a trade union boss – to reject the urban plan, and also to declare the architect an ‘enemy of the people’”. Alexandra Channer, The Bridge
“You can’t not feel responsible, you can’t not get furious and emotional when through a theater performance, the murder of a city comes right back at you in the form of a nightmare. The murder of a capital. The murder of Prishtina. Everything brought masterfully by Blerta Neziraj in the play In Five Seasons: An Enemy of the People, written by Jeton Neziraj, premiered this week at the National Theatre of Kosovo”.
Imer Mushkolaj, Gazeta Express
National Theatre of Kosovo
In Albanian, with English subtitles
Ticket reservation: [email protected]
Premiered on 1 November 2019
By: Jeton Neziraj // Directed by: Blerta Neziraj // Actors: Armend Smajli, Shpetim Selmani, Egzona Ademi, Kushtrim Qerimi, Afrim Muçaj, Verona Koxha // Musicians: Drin Tashi, Tomor Kuçi, Arbër Salihu. Stage and costumes: M. Nurullah Tuncer // Music: Irena Popovic- Dragovic // Choreography: Gjergj Prevazi .
Director of International outreach: Maud Dinand // Ass. director: Ermal Sadiku // Stage manager: Lendita Idrizi // Video: Ilir Gjocaj // Technical director: Fatlum Idrizi // Lightning design: Mursel Bekteshi // Translation: Sara Sulejmani // Tailor: Shemsi Avdiu // Executive producer: Bernard Berisha
With the generous support from: The Olof Palme International Center, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC and Rockefeller Brothers Fund.