news 28 Apr 17

Kosovo Playwright ‘Threatened by War Veterans’

Playwright Jeton Neziraj alleged that Kosovo Liberation Army veterans threatened to kill him if he stages his new play because they believe that it defames the wartime guerrilla force.

Die Morina, Liridona Ademaj
BIRN
Pristina
'Bordel Balkan'. Photo courtesy of Jeton Neziraj.

Neziraj said that he was threatened by the war veterans the day before his play, ‘Bordel Balkan’, is due to premiere at the Kosovo National Theatre in Pristina on Friday.

“A group of them, about eight or nine, came to the National Theatre and made it clear through threats and insults that they will block the premiere. They made death threats, among other things,” Neziraj said.

The KLA ex-fighters believe the play insults the guerrilla organisation’s struggle against Serbian rule.

“This reaction [against Neziraj] comes as a result of information that we have that the play denigrates the KLA’s war and bastardises our national values, and we met with the author of the so-called play and he refused to show us the script,” the KLA War Veterans’ Organisation said in a statement.

Neziraj called on people to attend the performance to protect free speech.

“I would like to invite the public to come to the premiere and support the play - this should be a battle that concerns all of us, a battle of the people who want freedom of creativity and freedom of speech to be above threats and blackmail and calls for killing,” Neziraj said.

He also expressed doubts that the veterans’ reaction was genuine because, he said, they have not seen the play yet.

“This premature reaction implies that they are being manipulated by someone who wants to create an irreparable scandal around this play and return this country to darkness where, among other things, aesthetic values and theatrical standards are decreed by non-professionals,” he said.

According to Kosovo culture journal KultPlus, ‘Bordel Balkan’ is based on the Aeschylus’s drama ‘Orestia, but relocated to a contemporary Balkan context, and deals with moral transgressions and false beliefs.

It is being directed by Andras Urban and was written by Neziraj, who was the artistic director of the Kosovo National Theatre and is now the director of Multimedia Centre, a theatre production company based in Pristina.

He has written over 20 plays, which have been staged in the US as well as in Europe.

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