Produced by Qendra Multimedia – www.qendra.org
Opening: May 10, 2022, ODA Theatre
Director: Erson Zymberi // Author: Jeton Neziraj // Actors: Tringa Hasani, Semira Latifi, Kushtrim Qerimi // Set design: Bekim Korça // Music: Trimor Dhomi // Choreography: Gjergj Prevazi // Costumes: Yllka Brada // Production Manager: Aurela Kadriu // Light Design: Mursel Bekteshi // Technical Support: Pajtim Krasniqi, Bujar Bekteshi // Production Assistant: Flaka Rrustemi // Video: Ilir Gjocaj
About the show
Sworn virgins are Albanian women who decide to live like men. After making this irreversibile decision, they give up on sex and their lives as women and start living like men, thus benefitting some of the privileges that in that region are reserved for males only.
The Western research approach to the phenomenon of Albanian sworn virgins has mostly been exotic, like a look of the “civilized world” at the “uncivilized” one. Everyone, especially international media, but also researchers from the disciplines of Anthropology, Sociology, Ethnography, to name a few, has exploited this phenomenon. A sort of intimacy guaranteed to the sworn virgins by the very fact of becoming so, was, all of a sudden, exposed to the media and the wider audience –– an exposure that brought no benefit to the sworn virgins but rather the contrary –– in many cases they were portrayed in the light of primitivism and as ‘relics’ of an extremely patriarchal society. However, for many of these women, dressing like a man and becoming a sworn virgin was an act of emancipation. They associate this act with the idea of “freedom”. Dave King referred to the phenomenon as “gender migration,” comparing it to the geographical migration.
In The Sworn Virgin, during her visit in the Northern Albania, Edith, a British anthropologist meets Sose, one of the remaining Albanian sworn virgins. Later, together they travel to London for a series of public presentations at the London University. During this visit, Sose becomes part of a queer performance-in-the-making by Julian –– a renowned drag queen from London. Encountering such a foreign culture becomes existential for Sose.
The Sworn Virgin speaks about the phenomenon of the sworn virgins, in light of the current debate on gender issues. It addresses the concept of freedom, respectively the lack of it in societies with different values, concepts and social constructs.
This is the first Albanian-language production of this play. Earlier, it was staged in German in Switzerland as a co-production of forever productions, Schlachthaus Theater Bern, Theater Winkelwiese Zürich, Kleintheater Luzern and Kellertheater Winterthur