The following is written primarily for our English-speaking friends (Embassy, AUK, ASK, etc), who may be attending an upcoming performance of our Vietnam play.
Premiere: Friday, June 1, at 20:00 (Invitation Only)
Reprise: Saturday, June 2, at 20:00 (3€ Tickets at Box Office)
Venue: Skena e Vogel (Small Theatre) at the National Theatre
Running Time: 90 minutes, no intermission
Njerëz Me Shresa Të Thyera (“Men with Broken Hopes”) was written in the early 1970s by Shaip Grabovci, the father of theatre professor Arbnesha Grabovci Nixha. Although written in the official Albanian (“letrare”) required at that time, the play will be performed in a slightly modified form that will include a few American songs sung both in English and Shqip.
The play is being performed by the ten men in Viti 4 (seniors in the undergraduate acting program) as their final “capstone” performance, which serves as the last test of their skills before “making” their diplomas. As with any academic project, they will be evaluated by their acting professors. The five women in Viti 4 are being directed by Prof. Nixha in Picasso’s Women, which will premiere a week or so after the men. Assisting with both productions is Prof. Hazir Haziri, noted stage and film actor and doctoral candidate at the University of Zurich.
The play is set on a ship filled with soldiers returning from Vietnam to the U.S. Most of the soldiers are young, poor, and have been wounded physically and/or psychologically. Two of the soldiers are African-Americans, who will wear black t-shirts in this production to distinguish them from the others (in white t-shirts). In Act I, we are introduced to these men from a company that spent ten months together in battle. In Act II, we discover how their their hopes (shpresa) have been broken. This is not a documentary; it is historical fiction written by an Albanian Kosovar with keen sensitivity to human and universal themes rather than specific political issues. Consequently, there are a few elements that may seem curious or incongruous to Americans in the audience. (But nothing to the extent of an Oliver Stone film, I promise.)
My own father spent two tours (years) in Vietnam in the 1960s. I find many parallels between the stories of these men and those told to me by my dad, who never sugar-coated his own experiences nor did he romanticize America’s involvement in the war. As director, I have tried to transfer this into our production with as much reality and respect as possible.
No matter the ideology, location, or time, wars are always fought by someone’s daughter or son, sister or brother, wife or husband, mother or father.
I dedicate this production to Lindy David McTier, veteran of Korea and Vietnam, my father and hero.