#14There was also a problem at the Theatre-Space festival in Istanbul, but then there was a great honor as well – to play again and close the festival?
The problem was that I applied for money with our Ministry that is in charge of it, and especially because of the fact that I was not supposed to go as a tourist. I had the invitation of the artistic director of the Festival, and I had a negative answer of our Ministry. Then I had several meetings with the Minister and he finally decided to give me some participation. But, there were three plays from Macedonia – Hasanaginica from Bitola Theatre, and Azisname from Turkish Theatre. There were 28 plays from the whole world, which means that there were 24 countries that participated at this second festival, which is at a very high level both with its program and its organization. I was surprised with the fact that after we played the board of the festival and its artistic director invited me to close the festival with Father, that is, play it again at the closure of the event.
#15You also already played twice before the audience of Moscow – last year and this year?
Last year in Moscow, on 12 and 13 March, at the Workshop of Piotre N. Fomenko, where there is also Ivan Popovski, we played Diary… I want to say, remind of a wish of mine: as much as I wanted to play Gogol’s Poprishchin, I dreamt of playing it in Moscow.
I’ll interrupt you: Moscow is also the dream of the sisters Olga, Masha and Irina of Chekhov’s Three Sisters?
Yes, but the difference between Bajrush and the three sisters of Chekhov who dream of arriving to Moscow id big. They never came to Moscow, and I did, knowing that Gogol is an author that has been played many times in Moscow, but great actors. For me, it was a huge provocation for an actor of this area, from the Balkans, to play in Moscow before the theatre audience there, before all those people of the theatre. That was not only a big responsibility, but courage also. Now, I can say: I’m not afraid of anything.
Go on with the second visit this year?
This year, in September, within the Days of Macedonian Culture in Russia we played Father in Moscow at the Mayerhold Theatre before the audience that remembers me with Diary… from last year, and in Saint Petersburg where the audience does not know me on the stage of the Theatre of Comedy and Music at the beautiful setting of the Small Stage. I think that there we played the most correct version of Father. Based on what they saw of heard, I was invited to participate at the Festival of the Monodrama in Saint Petersburg next year with the Diary of the Madman.
#16You did not mention the awards, they missed you here and you won them abroad?
The Diary has had four awards so far: at the last year’s festival in Priština I won the only award for the best actor, and Ivan Popovski the only award for directing; then the second award in Fier, Albania at the Festival of the Actor, whose amount is a good 3,500 Euro; then the first award at the Kiev Festival this year; in Oteševo I won the award Actor of Europe, and when I heard what I was supposed to receive there I was very happy. I was told that my biography should be published within some UNESCO activity, but nobody called me so far. Father won five awards at Vojdan Černodrinski 2004, one for directing, two for acting, design and for the play as a whole.
For two years in a row, first with the Diary in 2002, and then with Father, you were at the Risto Šiškov Festival program, two years before and during the festival you were the favorite for the only award, and in the end the juries announced something else? First you were very angry when you did not receive it for Poprishchin and this year you accepted to be the selector?
I said that when we started to work the Diary of the Madman we wanted the play to have its opening at the Festival of Chamber Theatre Risto Šiškov in Strumica. When I started working on Poprishchin, I through of Šiškov, his energy. I had him in my mind when we worked in BAAL of Brecht that also did not participate in Strumica because of the requirements: the play had more than six actors… I was really mad when I was not awarded for Poprishchin. I was aware, it was in 2003 and there were some hot head that an Albanian can not and must not receive an award in Strumica. Next year we went with the Father and the same thing happened again. But I learned that one should not go to a festival to receive an award, one should go to this one for the wonderful audience in Strumica. I accepted to be the selector because I thought that I could change something.
#17Do you think that you managed to change anything?
No, and that is why I called my selection for 2005 accidental. Why? Because I put nine shows out of the 12-13 registered on my program, so I had nothing to select. There was no place and room for a selector, but I also have my dilemma. I think that the physiognomy and the character of the festival do not correspond to what Šiškov the actor was. I think that the acting of Šiškov is insulted because he was not an actor in chamber theater forms, he was an actor, let me not say with what. I claim that this festival has to change its face, criteria, not to be a festival of chamber theatre, but a festival of the actor, or the acting. The second problem, which is very important, is that none of the theatres in the country shows any interest in this festival. Not a single play is made with an idea that it will be played there, like they do for the other festivals: Vojdan Černodrinski, Ohrid Summer, Young Open Theatre…
Does that mean that you only played a new role – a selector?
No, my view is clear: I endlessly respect the audience because they respected me as well. I wanted to see what I could do for them and for the late Risto Šiškov. I wanted to support the opening of the festival as an international one, but with strong actors. Nothing came out of it in the end. The strange festival jury awarded an actor that was also my favorite – Vasil Zafirčev in the Last Man, Last Woman, but only until I saw all the other plays.
#18Let’s finish with your life outside theatre: at home you have the six women of your life: your wife and five daughters. Do you feel blessed among so many women, and when do you find the time for them?
Ha-ha. Yes, a lot. My family, my six girls, are my constant impulse, my strength to be successful in my profession. How much time I spend with them, how tied I am to my family, they know the best. But I also love the women that I meet outside home.
(Conversation took place on September 16, 2005; and parts of it after B. Mjaku returned from Paris)
Bajrush Mjaku’s web site: www.bajrushmjaku.com
Translated by: Elizabeta Bakovska