What would a creative theatre partnership between Kosovo and Wales look like?

National Theatre Wales is currently hosting Jeton with a view to exploring possible links and ideas that may grow between Jeton the writer and NTW or between the two national arts organisations.  He has been in Cardiff and further afield since Saturday 28th.  Below is little more about his work and what he got up to during his visit.

Jeton Neziraj is Artistic Director of National Theatre of Kosovo in Pristina and founder of Qendra Multimedia.  Unusually he is an artistic director who is a playwright by trade, his plays have been translated to several languages.  In September, his play ‘The Demolition of the Eiffel Tower’ will be produced and presented at New York for 9/11, then to the international theatre festival MESS in Sarajevo. In his early 30’s, Jeton Neziraj is trying very hard to establish a modern cultural scene in his native country of Kosovo, a newly independent state ravaged by recent war and feuds with Serbia, burdened with traditionalism and nationalism.  There is much debate within Kosovo about the nature and work of the National Theatre:

“In these new political circumstances, the theatre therefore faces some essential questions: ‘What is in fact a National Theatre?’ ‘Which plays of the national dramaturgy should be brought onto stage of this National Theatre?’ ‘Which are those ‘big national topics’, worthy of a National Theatre?’ ‘Do national plays make a National Theatre more ‘national’?’ ‘Does a National Theatre ‘de-nationalise’ when Shakespeare, Moliere and other contemporary European authors are brought onto its stage?’ And many other questions and dilemmas…!”

National Theatre Wales is currently hosting Jeton with a view to exploring possible links and ideas that may grow between Jeton the writer and NTW or between the two national arts organisations.

We started his visit with a leisurely walk around St Fagans Museum of Welsh Life, this gave Jeton some understanding of the different eras and histories of Wales.  It also enabled him to get a glimpse of the beautiful Welsh countryside described by him to be similar but cleaner to that of Kosovo's own.  Visits to Chapter, Welsh Assembly and the Millennium Centre somewhat enhanced Jeton’s Welsh cultural, creative and political spectrum.  Finishing the day with a night out where he visited Gwdihw and checked out Cardiff Arts Institute sampling the beer, people and music on offer.

However over an indoor picnic at the NTW office on a rainy bank holiday Monday he received a more valuable insight into the Welsh Theatre landscape.  Meeting with a variety of different creatives, each providing their expertise, opinions and understanding of history, form and politics of theatre within Wales.  In attendance David John Norton, Mike Pearson, Ryan James Nolan, Christina Handke, Bethan Marlow, James Roberts, Elise Davison,Mared Swain, Catherine Paskell, Ben Partridge, and Mathilde Lopez.

Tuesday saw us journey to Aberystwyth where we took in the sights and the great sea air.  We met with Jeremy Turner, founder and Artistic Director of Arad Goch Theatre Company, who gave us an update on young peoples theatre in Wales and also gave us a tour of their great new building.  After some much needed rest we went over to the Arts Centre where a meeting with Mike Pearson and a tour of the Arts Centre facilities and University facilities awaited.  Following on from these tours, we got ourselves ‘iPoded out’ and took to the streets of Aberystwyth to experience the NTW show ‘Outdoors’.  Jeton described this experience a ‘unique and extraordinary journey, which enabled me to experience other peoples life stories and the spirit of the town.’

On our return back to Cardiff on Wednesday, Jeton met with the rest of the staff team, this was great as it enabled him to put names to faces and also understand the working structure of NTW.  Later we relaxed and due to his love for Indian and spicy food, I decided that he should sample some original Bengali food cooked by myself.  After this he went on to meet with Gareth Potter, who directed one of Jeton’s play for young people ‘Forbidden Lesson’ in 2004 in Pristina.  So after a somewhat busy, informative and creative visit the question remains how do we engage together?

‘What is the connection and what might the final project look like?’  Could Jeton write us a play?  If so what would it be about? 

Could there be some form of simultaneous performance?

Could we run some kind of exchange programme?

This is where your help would be useful, the questions are open to all members of our community and your ideas and thoughts on the debate would be much appreciated.

 

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Comment by Bethan Marlow on June 13, 2011 at 13:44

I know very little about Kosovo today. I can read a Wiki and follow the news and listen to world leaders but I will still know very little about the individuals that live, work and play in Kosovo today. And I'm pretty sure (although not certain) that the people of Kosovo would say the same about Wales.  Surely this is an opportunity for the creatives of Kososvo and Wales to introduce our worlds (from personal to national) to each other in an artistic way?

 

In terms of how that could be done, for me the possibility to discuss, develop and create something online is a strong option. It's such an instant way of connecting and a platform that has very little rules and structure (at the moment anyway). It's not to say that everything that's created has to be purely online, nor does it mean that you do something live and upload a documented video onto You Tube- it's about exploring this universal space, playing with it and seeing what's possible. And of course, the fact that we have a platform right here seems to be an excellent place to start.

 

Has anyone really played with the boundaries of NTW community?

Has anyone tested what you can and can't do creatively on this site? 

We've already had game designs and scripts, fictional profiles and 140 character plays- there must be SO MUCH more.

Comment by Jeton Neziraj on June 10, 2011 at 17:04

Hi James,

I will be happy to help in any way I can! Lets have a skype ore phone conversation soon and see how and what can be done! (skye: jetonneziraj)

Jeton

Comment by abdul shayek on June 10, 2011 at 16:15

Hi James

That sounds fantastic, Jeton is now on the community so please feel free to befriend him and get in touch directly to set that up.  Just keep us updated on how things pan out.

A

Comment by James Doyle-Roberts on June 9, 2011 at 21:34

Hi Abdul,

Citrus Arts are currently planning to hold a couple of intensive workshops & creative research sessions this summer (2 to 5 days). Could we ask Jeton for some creative suggestions/themes/environments/triggers that we could base these sessions around & get some kind of live "Check-in" sessions with him via Skype?

Just a thought for now . . .

James

Comment by carmen medway-stephens on June 8, 2011 at 9:38
Hi, I think there was some kind of partnership about 15 years ago, Kaite O'Reilly visited there and did a paticular type of work (contact her on NTW and she may help you) and a play called  something like 'letters from....' was taken there from Chapter??? I can't remember the exact details. To do something again could be really beneficial. See how people have moved on? How artists are creating work post war? I also think the welsh scene could benefit from seeing more European theatre. I do know that with the trilogy that I am writing individuals hae expressed 1. That I should visit there for authencity 2. A welsh connection may benefit the story. So for me a collaboration/exchange would be amazing. But the play deals with the war - a forgotten war by many people and also an unknown war by the younger generation. However, 'War' maybe a topic you would want to avoid or move on from??
Comment by Jeton Neziraj on June 6, 2011 at 20:32

Hi to all of you!

I just thought I would let you know of this following event:

http://qendra.org/?id=4&n=50

best,

Jeton

Comment by abdul shayek on June 6, 2011 at 15:46

Hey guys thanks for the comments-

So first and foremost Carmen thank you for your reply, the exchange is just an idea to get the creative juices flowing- can you expand further on how a creative exchange might be of benefit to creating a joint project?

John - I think thats an interesting thought, any one else want to add and expand on those thoughts?

 

 

Comment by john norton on June 5, 2011 at 23:31
hmmm .. just been thinking about Kosovo/ Illyria/ Dardania - and the fact that there were quite a few Celtic tribes in that area in Roman times. who were those  people? who are their descendants/ heirs? how does reaching back become part of our self narration as individuals, nations?  Fictional Archaeology sites anyone?
Comment by carmen medway-stephens on June 5, 2011 at 15:23
Hi, I'm currently writing a play about Bosnia and would really love to be involved in some kind of exchange, Many Thanks

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