KOSOVO THEATRE REVIEWS
Reviewed by Florida Kastrati
When you are accustomed to sharing your life with another living being, the realization that one day you will have to go on living without them, is one of the hardest things you can experience as a human. Especially when they go away suddenly and unexpectedly that your life takes a 360-degree turn.
The play Father and Father talks about this turn. It becomes even more painful when we come to understand that this loss was caused by other human beings. The drama openly laments the missing persons of Kosovo’s war and their to-this-day unresolved fate.
It is a touching piece that deeply affects its audience. Jeton Neziraj’s text, which slowly reveals its epiphany, is directed by Kushtrim Koliqi, with music composed by Adhurim Grezda.
Every day is the same for the three members of the family in the play. The actors Ilire Vinca as the mom Sara, Bujar Ahmeti as the father, and Kosovare Krasniqi as daughter Lola. The actors create an engaging atmosphere with their performances, with their words, gestures and their tears, making it possible for the audience to feel like an organic part of the drama throughout the production.
The main character Sara continues to give her husband drugs for his incessant chest pain as if he were still there. She refuses to accept that her husband ceased to be a living member of the family quite a long time ago. She speaks for all the families of the missing people and wants to show us how painfully absurd it is to know that the people most dear to you have been added to the “missing people” list but that you have never seen any material proof that they are gone.
Father and Father shows how painful and traumatic the undefined status of the missing people is for their families, and how knowing their epilogue, their fate, would lighten the load of the pain for the people left living. Since people cannot live in the agony of waiting for too long, and this non-responsiveness on the part of the institutions only adds to this agony.
Time doesn’t stop passing for Sara and Lola, but it does stop for the father. He has remained young in Sara’s and Lola’s memories. Because he was young when the war took him, and he became one of the 1600 people who are still missing in Kosovo since 1998-99.
Sara is a seamstress who has a regular, low-paid job in fabric and also cleans a house two times a week. She’s the breadwinner of the family and does all she can to help her daughter to study and get a degree at university.
The play brings the discussion of the fate of the missing people into wider society, since this has remained an unsolved political issue that has dragged on for many years now, as the families of the affected wait in sorrow and terror for an answer. It is a play that should be shown to those who hold the answers about the fate of the missing people in Kosovo and in every place in which such cruelties occurred.
Living inside the world of this play, even for less than two hours, one is able to feel the nightmare that families of the missing people in Kosovo have lived with on a daily basis for 22 years. A nightmare translated into a psychological terror that will haunt generation after generation until they finally get their answer.
Sara’s husband was a geodetic engineer who struggled to get a job. Neziraj’s play also critiques the governance of institutions and their poor handling of employees’ conditions. This theme of unemployment and unsatisfactory job conditions is a major concern of our country, and one of the reasons why our population continues to migrate to this day.
As Sara continues her life with the presence of her husband, Lola has found someone and she is getting married, and as a result she will leave the house. On her special day she wears a black dress instead of a white one, and that day Sara seem to accept that her husband is not actually present in their house. Sara has to accept that she will have to live alone once Lola is gone for her new life and that no matter how they want it, the father is not coming back again.
The play is staged in a small room on the second floor of a building of Prishtina’s Ethnological Museum. It is small and has limited seats, which only adds to the intimacy of the play. The actors manage to hook the audience’s attention for the majority of the play’s running time and the atmosphere of the space contributes to the rise in emotions as the play’s revelation is slowly unveiled. We start to comprehend why the actor playing the father is younger than the actress playing the mother. We understand that it wasn’t comic misunderstanding when the father goes to get a birth certificate and instead gets a death certificate. These issues of his are still considered an “administrative problem” and his fate, along with that of many others, has remained unresolved due to slow-moving hands.
We realise that all the scenes in which the father is present in fact happened only in the mind of his family members. They are just fragments of Sara’s past, uncomplete memories that will continue to haunt her and the members of the missing people’s families until the relevant institutions treat them with the dignity with which they deserve to be treated.
Produced by Integra // Written by: Jeton Neziraj // Directed by: Kushtrim Koliqi // With: Ilire Vinca, Bujar Ahmeti, Kosovare Krasniqi // Music: Adhurim Grezda // Lights: Skënder Latifi // Costumes: Njomëza Luci // Set: Mentor Berisha // Assistant director: Kaltërim Balaj // Video: Leart Rama // Design: Florian Mehmeti