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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