The Handke Project



Written by Jeton Neziraj | Directed by Blerta Neziraj

Cast: Arben Bajraktaraj (FR), Ejla Bavćić (BiH), Adrian Morina (RKS), Klaus Martini (IT), Verona Koxha (RKS), Anja Drljević (MNE)

Dramaturg Biljana Srbljanović
Artistic Collaborator Alida Bremer

Set design Marija Kalabic | Composer Gabriele Marangoni | Choreographer: Gjergj Prevazi | Costume Designer Blagoj Micevski | Lighting design Yann Perregaux | Sound Design Leonardo Rubboli | Tempo Reale | Assistant director Sovran Nrecaj | Production Manager Aurela Kadriu |  Production Assistant Flaka Rrustemi


For an artist, where does the freedom of speech end, and the need to be politically conscious begin? Can we create art without being insensitive? Can we separate the art from the artist? These are among the important questions asked in a new production from Kosovan theatre company Qendra Multimedia. The Handke Project follows Qendra’s recent successful tour of Balkan Bordello, which played across South Eastern Europe and at New York’s legendary La MaMa theatre.

The Handke Project takes as its central theme the controversial decision to convey the honour of Nobel Laureate for Literature on Austrian writer Peter Handke, in spite of his well-documented support for Slobodan Milosevic – who died while on trial for war crimes at The Hague – a support which extended to speaking at Milosevic’s graveside. In The Handke Project, Qendra takes this controversy as a jumping off point to explore how art is appreciated and promoted when it crosses the boundaries of basic decency, humanism or ethics.

To create the production, Qendra have assembled a pan-European ensemble of writers, performers and creatives from Kosovo, Italy, Germany, Croatia, Serbia and others, each bringing their own unique perspective to the work. They include the celebrated Serbian playwright Biljana Srbljanovic who will act as dramaturg, and Germany-based Croatian writer Alida Bremer who has written extensively on Handke for the German press.

Handke Project is a theatrical performance about the writer who with his books and opinions has fabricated and overturned facts of the wars in former Yugoslavia; has incited and supported ‘the scorched earth’ ideology; as well as managed to sing praises to militant poets and filmmakers converted into ‘engineers of genocidal projects.’ During the funeral of the war criminal Milosevic, Handke said to the blood-thirsty mass of people that he “does not know the truth” and that is why he is, “there close to Milosevic, close to Serbia.” Handke compared the suffering of Serbs to the suffering of Jewish people during Nazism!

Artists and scholars from Kosovo, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, North Macedonia, France, Montenegro, and Germany will discuss and address “Peter’s stupidities,” in light of the war in Ukraine and in a time when many cultural institutions in Europe demand from Russian artists to publicly declare their political stance towards the war in Ukraine. A red line is being drawn over all those Russian artists who in one way or another support Putin and the war.

Meanwhile, Handke and the European handkists continue to roam freely, even on top of the eight thousand graves of the Srebrenica victims. Thus, as Eric Gordy beautifully put it: Handke is kitsch! But a Nobel Prize for him is also kitsch. Handke’s supporters, too, are kitsch. Finally, the European hypocrisy is itself kitsch.

Listings information

03-04  June, 2022 | Opening, ODA Theatre, Prishtina (Kosovo)
06 June, 2022 | Albanian Drama Theater, Skopje (North Macedonia)
07 June, 2022 | Adriana Theatre, Ferizaj (Kosovo)
09-10 June, 2022 | Bitef Theatre, Belgrade (Serbia)
23 July, 2022 | Teatro Adelaide Ristori, Mittelfest, Cividale del Friuli, Udine  (Italy)
25-30 October, 2022 | Kosovo Theatre Showcase (Kosovo)
14-15 November, 2022 | National Theatre of Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
16-17 December, 2022  | Theatre Dortmund (Germany)
September-October, 2023 | Teatro della Pergola (Italy)


Partners and supporters:  Allianz Kulturstiftung… for Europe, The Sigrid Rausing Trust, Rockfeller Brothers Fund, European Union Kosovo [through the program Reconnection 2.0, jointly developed with Heartefact from Belgrade]  Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport of the Republic of Kosovo, Ministartsvo Kulture i Sporta Kantona Sarajevo, Kontrapunkt – Skopje, Teatri Oda – Prishtina.