By Jeton Neziraj
Directed by: Blerta Neziraj
Actors: Bajrush Mjaku, Adrian Morina, Anisa Ismaili, Adrian Aziri, Ernest Malazogu
Musicians: Susanna Tognella (violin), Gabriele Marangoni (harmonica)
Dramaturg and artistic consultant: Ilir Gjocaj
Choreography: Arthur Kuggeleyn
Music composer: Gabriele Marangoni
Stage and costumes: Susanne Maier-Staufen
Producer: Qendra Multimedia /// Executive producer: Jeton Neziraj /// Stage manager: Sunita Kurti /// Stage construction: Krste S. Dzidrov /// Asst. Costume Design: Leonora Mehmeti /// Lighting: Skënder Latifi, Ibrahim Xhemaili /// Coordinators: Raska Jonuzi, Adelina Berisha, Tanja Petovar, Denis Berisha /// Translation of the play into English: Alexandra Channer /// Translation of the play into HR – SRB – BiH: Shkelzen Maliqi /// Language of the performance: Albanian
English / HR – SRB – BiH – MNE subtitles avaliable
Duration of the performance: 90 min (no intermission)
About ten years after the end of the war, Kosovo, until then administered by the United Nations Mission, is getting ready to declare independence. The newest state in the world is expected to be born soon.
The Secretary of the Ministry of Sport asks the Kosovo`s National Theater troupe to prepare a ceremonial play which will be performed on the historic day of declaring independence. Two million Euros are allocated for the celebration of independence. The theater troupe is proud and feels very privileged. But their joy is not without some challenges. Besides various “aesthetic” politically correct requirements, the troupe faces two unpredictable “problems”. First, the day on which independence will be declared is being kept a secret; and, second, the play has to include an unwritten speech by the Prime Minister, which he will give in Parliament on the historic day.
While the theater troupe begins intensive rehearsals, James, the stage technician has a parallel project. He starts to construct an airplane which he wants to fly around the world with the wholly original goal of lobbying as many states as possible to recognize the new state.
The news about the date of declaring independence comes all of a sudden. That evening, the government cabinet, guests from NATO, the UN, the EU and other diplomats, come to the National Theater of Kosovo to see the play – The Kosovo National Epopee
“ONE FLEW OVER THE KOSOVO THEATER” is a political comedy about one of the important events of global significance this century – the birth of the state of Kosovo.
This is a comedy about the new Kosovo, which is exhausted and ravaged by the war, poverty, corruption and the unending tutelage of international missions, and is trying to find its own way toward the future…
The Play is based on 2 musical scores by Gabriele Marangoni: “Yue” and “Flew”, both are a continuous sound that make use of the accordion and live electronics in combination with the voice of the actors on stage, all then embellished with a improvisational part entrusted to the viola or violin. A experimental sound work always in progress with what happens on the stage.
[eng]“The pedicure can wait. Independence cannot.” The director rebukes an actress who wants to start with her cosmetics tomorrow. “Rehearsal starts at nine o’clock, this is about national interests!” In light of the newfound independence of Kosovo, a new play is to be created. The commission befell the national, yet for months unpaid theater troupe quite suddenly – per messenger, direct from the ministry for sport (and culture). The government wants a patriotic piece that at the same time should be “modern.” Including a speech from the prime minister, to be held directly on stage in order to close the epos with dignity. Then Kosovo will be free. And the arts?
The director seats himself across from the state secretary in the scene and dreams of poetry as well as national and European anthems. He sees the risks in this endeavor, but also the chances: what if this is a success? What if doors to Europe are opened, or even to Broadway? That would be like winning the lottery – as they repeat mantra-like in Pristina, Kosovo is the only country in the region that remains subjected to visa enforcements by the EU. Yet it doesn’t take long for the messenger from the ministry to reappear. Now he is bringing a message that turns everything upside down: “Be modern, be universal! Nationalistic content is strictly forbidden!” The director fumes: “Now they want us to make politically correct theater! The freedom of art is something holy!” It’s obvious to him that the western governments – the “international community” – are behind this. “Don’t take it so seriously,” says the emissary. “Simply don’t mention our enemies by name, neither the Ottomans nor the Serbs. Especially not the Serbs!” And that was that. And please don’t smoke any cigarettes in the play! We need to ensure that the ambassadors and the EU- and UN-officials in the audience can see how concretely and correctly administrative directives are implemented in Kosovo, too, just as in a “real nation.” “Imagine something like that would happen in the Netherlands. Then the minister of culture would resign immediately!” They want to fire off a salute? Then it must be with a NATO rifle, not with, for instance, a Russian gun! The young republic does want to eventually join the western alliances.
With each instruction, the director pulls himself together lightning-quick and turns his coat towards the ministerial wind. Yes, that’s how it goes, when homage is to be rendered in ice and frost at the national theater in Pristina to the newly born state. At that, this is neither a reportage nor a rehearsal review. Or is it? What is performed here is a local farce that magnifies the relationship between art and politics. Its author, Jeton Neziraj, and his wife Blerta, the director, are at the forefront of blurring the distinction between political satire on stage and real events surrounding the world premiere. Because that’s what the play is – a debate about a play. And the piece itself proved to be part of a sweeping performance that spanned weeks and led to a debate in the media about the relationship between art and politics.
“Snow still remained on the roof of the theater,” we learn in the first scene. This article could have also begun that way. Because it is snowing on the 5th of December, the day of the world premiere, and in front of the theater construction workers are cobbling the first pedestrian zone in Kosovo. The play within the play has no title and the director has no name. Of course, Jeton Neziraj’s farce has a title, which he links to the heroic fantasy of a crashing pilot, of all things: “One Flew Over the Kosovo Theater.” The nation as a cuckoo’s nest? […]
(Thomas Hahn, Theater Heute)
[eng]In the sense of this definition which awaits its fulfillment, we can say that Jeton Neziraj, whose “antipatriotic” Greek comedy One Flew Over the Kosovo Theatre, directed by Blerta Neziraj, we had a watched two nights ago at the Centre for Cultural Decontamination is a patriot and a writer. In this text and performance, the author ironically opposes the power of patriotic thoughts and patriotic feelings, which are emitted at the highest levels of the Kosovan government, against the people who, while sinking deeper and deeper into poverty and helplessness, accept it with delight.
This is not a play which criticises Kosovo’s statehood, the making of which bore a huge number of victims. Therefore, this is not a play which questions the very meaning of those victims, rather it questions the set meaning of statehood, which should represent some sort of freedom and opportunity for its citizens and not additional lies and more misfortune. The Nezirajs show all of the decorum of patriotism and all of the civility which the government must act out according to the rules of European and American sovereignty controls (and it should be noted that the Pristina premiere of this theatrical performance, on 5th December at the National Theatre of Kosovo, would not have taken place without the intervention of several Western European ambassadors), the mask of civility and the face of patriotism without pulling any punches, in its true genre, as a farce, and, at the same time, in its natural setting, as a comedy of the absurd.
The play’s title alludes to the cult 1975 American film “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” by the famous Czech director Miloš Forman, therefore suggesting that the plot takes place in a psychiatric hospital, where the craziest people are in fact the administrators, whilst the patients, who are healthy, are forced to receive therapy. This hopeless ambience of the play was realised by Zuzane Majer-Staufen who set a cage grid above the entire performance space.
The live performance by Gabriele Marangoni, who composed the music for the show, and Susanna Tognella, in the joint sounds of the harmonica and the violin, which recreated famous melodies from films about the mafia, put an accent on politicians’ appearances on stage. As a matter of fact, the Prime Minister of Kosovo issued a directive to the National Theatre to prepare a play which would mark the independence celebration in Pristina, but it is not known when that will be. It is important that the Prime Minister’s speech be integrated into the play, however, the speech has not been written yet. The absurdity of this situation, of course, reminds us of Waiting for Godot. Moreover, two million Euros has been set aside for the celebration but most of that money ended up in the wrong hands and was used for private purposes.
(Zlatko Paković, Danas)
[eng] Jeton Neziraj, a playwright and theatre worker from Pristina, has committed himself to constantly REMINDING, all of those who think that the time of thought has passed just because Kosovo has won that which it won, independence and international support, and the fact that it is becoming a state, thus achieving its century-long National Dream. Already in his first co-produced shows, in collaboration with people who share similar opinions from the entire Region, and especially with production companies in Belgrade, Skopje and Tirana, Jeton Neziraj looks for the other side of the VICTORY, in which people massively enjoy, he seeks that other side, those weak spots everyone in power has, and he reminds them that they are JUST HUMAN and have those same weaknesses, just like everyone in their places in history used to have and in any given country. Simply put, Neziraj laughs out loud in the face of bribery, brutality, dullness, lack of knowledge, ignorance….in the face of the leaders of the National Revolution and a State In Making – Kosovo! And precisely at the time when it is all actually taking place! He laughs in the face of those who enjoy the massive support from people and the international community – he shows them – as Shakespeare would say – THE TRUE FACE OF REALITY, meaning themselves, in order for them to remember it and be sensible in all their endless euphoria. Here in Serbia we do have a few critical pieces about out own myths and the national ones – but even the very best works in this modest opus are concerned with the PAST – albeit the recent past, such as the critical works concerning the murder of Zoran Djindjić or questioning the wars in Croatia and Bosnia, which are also shown on film. However, we don’t have a SINGLE piece which represents precisely the CURRENT government and its arrogance and unbearable lies and deceits…. And it would certainly be more than useful for someone to set at least one such piece in Serbia, don’t you think?
The actors in this performance are PERFECT! By this I mean that they’re cheerful, fluid, witty, intelligent and convinced of the purpose of their critical and artistic attitude. They are responsible and progressive – they act with their heart and intelligence equally all the way through the play. From the bard of the Albanian Theatre in Skopje, Bajrush Mjaku, who skimps on neither strength nor energy, after his important part in The General of the Dead Army by Dino Mjustafić and other productions, we have seen the PATRIOTIC HYPERMARKET at BITEF Theatre, and here he plays another important role of critical art and responsibility, to young Adrian Morina, Anisa Ismaili, Adrian Aziri and Ernest Malazogu, all of whom exhibited progressive and adamant personalities to seriously tackle otherwise entirely taboo National Topics. The on-stage music is played by two young Italians – violinist Susanna Tognella and accordion player and composer Gabriele Marangoni, and they play EXCELLENTLY – they are modern, convincingly and skilfully! The dramatist is Ilir Gjojcaj and the choreographer Arthur Kuggeleyn. The costume designer and stage designer is Zuzane Majer Staufen, who made a symbolic grid which covers precisely the moment when the celebration is at its peak – it falls on the actors when they are supposed to enjoy themselves the most. It is a simple and clear metaphor – well done! And so the triumphant end of this Celebration Performance, with many colourful balloons which start falling together with the grid, turns into – of course – an embellished PRISON for freedom and Art, surely! ?
The play has been staged over the last few days, having been premiered in Prishtina on 5th December and then in Skopje and Tirana, where just like in Belgrade yesterday, it received huge ovations and acknowledgement. The play has shown that – AGAIN – there is only ONE world and that Art is also ONE AND ONLY – or it isn’t art! Here we have had a chance to see a seriously political theatre, full of laughter and joyful glee in recognising and mocking the government’s stupidities and its bureaucratic violence. Bravo! WELL DONE! Come again! ?
(Goran Cvetković, Radio Belgrade 2)
Kosovo (world opening): 5 December 2013, National Theater of Kosovo /
Skena Up Festival, Prishtina
Albania: 7 December 2013, National Theater of Albania, Tirana.
Macedonia: 9 December 2013, CTC, Skopje
Serbia: 11 December 2013, Center for Cultural Decontamination, Belgrade
Macedonia: 29 March 2014, CTC, Skopje
Kosovo: 30 March 2014, Professional Theater, Gjilan
danas # English
politika # English
balkan inside # English
radio belgrade # English
goethe institute # German
koha ditore # German stradda # French
la repubblica # Italian
globus # Macedonian
blic # Serbian
danas # serbian
novi magazin # Serbian
politika # Serbian
koha ditore 2 # Albanian
shekulli 1 # Albanian
shekulli 2 # Albanian
gift magazine Austria # German
theater heute 1 # German
theater heute 2 # German
koha ditore # Albanian
Performance was financed by: Swiss Cultural Programme in the Western Balkans, Youth Initiative for Human Rights – Kosovo, Goethe Institute, EUROPEAN UNION (Balcan can Contemporary project)