#6The actor needs a mirror in which he will see his reflection, without twisting the mirror if the face that he sees in it is not to his taste; was this the reason that you work Gogol’s Diary of the Madman on the small man, clerk Poprishchin as an independent production, escape from the institution?
Then I was an actor with 30 years of experience. But, it comes from much earlier, so I should go back in time when I managed since the 90-es to push for projects in the Theatre that meant a lot to me and which I was convinced would work. There was BAAL with Brezovac, a play with which we were the first ones from Macedonia who opened the doors of the staged in Europe, then there was King Lear with which we went to Cividale in Italy, but also to the first post-war MESS festival in Sarajevo that was becoming international, and then to the Bonn biannual festival with Bones that Come Late and then we also went to Riga with this play. Let me also mention my plays with Dritëro Kasapi as Euralien of Goran Stefanovski, a script for a theatre project with 50 actors and 13 directors, an order of Intercult from Stockholm where we played a duo play with Refet Abazi, 20 minutes long and it is still remembered in Sweden, of Hotel Europe based on the concept, scripts and dramaturgy of G. Stefanovski also, for a European theatre project of 9 directors from Eastern Europe, which was realized in the production of Intercult from Stockholm, and the festivals of Vienna, Bologna, Bonn and Avignon, where we played The Albanian Room with Arta Muchay. Then I met Ivan Popovski, we had more time to talk about work as well, about my wish to play Poprishchin from Gogol’s Diary of the Madman. Watching his work on the Russian Room of Hotel Europe, I interested him in working together, thinking, maybe naively, that he lived in Moscow where Gogol lived and that we would find a common language for work together. And now, about the mirror that you mentioned. The mirror is the theatre, and I also call the director a mirror. Although I had some friends of mine offering me “hey, you work on monodrama, learn the text and we’ll come to tell you this or that…”. I don’t think that this is the way to work on monodrama, which is the most difficult genre for the actor, according to me. The actor has to have a mirror, to have the man who knows how to deal with the actor – the director. Practically, even before the armed clash in Macedonia of 2001 I had started the preparations on The Diary… and I worked Poprishchin alone. I worked alone for two years; there was no day that I would not spend at least an hour on Gogol, Poprishchin or his problems. With Ivan, that is with the Hotel Europe team we went to many places – one month in Vienna, in Avignon, in Bologna, in Stockholm and two weeks in Bon. During all of this time I tried to drag Ivan in the cooperation. He accepted in Avignon.
#7This joint work with Ivan was a miracle in 2001, some people even condemned that an Albanian actor and a Macedonian director worked together, and practically then the cooperation that has been confirming for four years in continuity started: the play has been staged in many placed, you won awards together?
The time that we started working together was the time when a war was being waged in Macedonia. It is true that we had telephone calls from my side and from his. Ivan was told: you came here from Moscow and you want to tell us how and with whom to work here. Even in my theatre almost nobody could understand that that time was the time to have such a theatre play.
Later, and even now I ask these people the same question: would it have been better, as they did, if Ivan and I hid our eyes from each other. And we had no reason why. The work was an encouragement for even bigger work for us. I remember that the first trial was in a basement restaurant in Topaansko Pole, and then we started to work in my home, then in Ivan’s home, then at the Theatre of Nationalities stage. We wanted to have the opening at Risto Šiškov Festival. We looked for a theatre stage, and when we received the conditions we refused – we did not want the play to be staged at the House of Culture. We agreed for the opening in the Young Open Theatre. And on 21 September 2001, after the famous Ohrid Framework Agreement, we showed in reality that this agreement was just and we managed to collect 150 people in the same space for an hour and a half for an hour and a half. As long as the show lasted, they did not think of the Agreement, of what was and what would be tomorrow. They only thought of Poprishchin, his life, his problems. I think that the success of the play was in this exactly. Now we are happy together with each new invitation to show the Diary…
You say that those who have hatred for a drink were shown the way, the road that we have to follow, by this play?
Yes, you said it correctly, the road that we have to follow. It is an illusion for each of us to live separately, forgetting that we have a lot in common. Even the air that we breathe is common; we have to live our lives together, although even nowadays there are people on both sides who say that everybody has to close himself in his circle. I have already said once that I have passed that time; I live and I work in a different time – I move forward with the time.