Culture vs. Conflict in Kosovo
The curtain is about to go up on a politically-charged version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in Belgrade. Although the Kosovo war ended in 1999 and Kosovo declared itself independent from Serbia in 2008, deep divisions between the people of the former Yugoslavian state remain. A joint production of the classic tragedy by Belgrade’s Radionica Integracije and Qendra Multimedia, based in Pristina, features a cast chosen to reflect those divides. Romeo is played by Kosovo Albanian actor Alban Ukaj, who experienced the bombings as a student and ‘started to lose faith that this story was ever going to end’. The role of go-between Friar Lawrence has gone, appropriately, to Uliks Fehmiu, son of Serbian and Albanian actors. in 1987, Fehmiu senior walked off stage, mid-performance, in protest at the incendiary speeches of Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, and later took his own life. Director Miki Manojlivic says the play, which is being performed in both Serbian and Albanian, is a process and a statement. It is a reminder that the category ‘political actor’ can be defined in different ways.
Source: ‘Borrowing Cupid’s wings: Romeo and Juliet helps heal the scars of Kosovo War‘, The Guardian, 5 April 2015.