Part of my Fulbright “mission” here is to share my experiences whenever possible. So far, I’ve had several opportunities to appear on television.
In April, I was interviewed for almost 30 minutes on a live, local morning show on 1st Channel called “Morning Coffee.” One of the first questions asked was if I planned to remain in Kosova after my grant ended and, if not, when I would return. I have been asked this question many times now and always give the same answer, “No. I must live where my family lives, but I hope to return for a visit.” This answer is honest and true but also seems to satisfy the Kosovars, who value family in ways that are profound, historic, and more expansive than our American sense of the “nuclear” family. “Family values” here means loving, respecting, and taking care of your immediate and extended family (whether they live in the same house with you or in a different country) and, fortunately, has nothing to do with politically motivated notions of morality.
While rehearsing my Vietnam play, I was interviewed on-site three different times. These interviews came without warning, and I usually hadn’t shaved or done anything special to prepare. In addition to being asked about remaining in Kosova, I often was asked about the quality and skills of my students and how they compare with my American students. I note that I love all of my students wherever I teach and then praise my Kosovar students for their talents and passion. Again, all honest and true. I don’t explain how they differ: my actors here range in age from 22 to 29 (the age of most graduate students in the U.S.), and my playwriting students range from 22 to my age! Why so much older? The 1999 war displaced most of the population, destroyed much of the infrastructure (including schools and entire villages), and disrupted the timeframe. I also am asked about whether or not my students will succeed professionally; I can only say that I hope for best.
On the day of our premiere, I had an official press conference at the National Theatre, which was attended by newspaper writers and three different television crews. I was delighted that my actors were invited and given a chance to speak. I was dismayed that the three tv crews arrived at different times, thus forcing us to repeat the same questions over and over. So be it. There seemed to be some curiosity about the fact that an American (me) had directed a Vietnam play written and performed in Shqip (Albanian). My wonderful translator, Fjolla Hoxha, helped to explain the way that we work in both rehearsals and class. I am much indebted to Fjolla for all her help; without her, my experience here would not have been as successful or enjoyable. Thank you, Fjolla!
Two television crews filmed the premiere and then shared edited clips later. Channel 21, one of the three national television stations, interviewed me the following Monday during a 20-minute segment that included performance clips and actor interviews. The station is very modern, large and professionally run. I was surprised, however, that the air conditioning in the building did not include our studio. Channel 21 has a particular interest in our play, because it was written by one of its most respected and senior staff writers, Shaip Grabovci. During this interview, I got to explain a bit about why I am in Kosova and directing this particular play. Later that day, Klan Kosova, a regional television, also aired excerpts from our production.
In addition to these television appearances, I have a social media connection through Facebook. This is my Prishtina Facebook, which is separate from my American account. I do this primarily for language: one operates in Albanian and the other in English.
Postscript: This is the article that appeared in Kosova Press.