ZOO Story: Play of Authentic Life
The two actors – Vebi Kerimi and Sefedin Nuredini with their colleague Bajrush Mjaku, now as a directors, and all three actors at the Albanian Theatre of Skopje, have looked for and found their way to themselves and the audience, as opposed to the inability to stage such a project as a production of their employer – the Albanian Theatre. At the beginning of last November, they were given the space in the yard of the Theatre for one evening. There were less than hundred viewers who saw their ZOO Story that evening, as written by Edward Albee (USA).
Kerimi and Nuredini play with a new quality in the play, defying the general zombification. The result is summarized in two principles: the setting and pure acting.
The play was an independent project, applied to participate at several international festivals, there will be visits out of the country, but nobody wants it here, and it was not staged anywhere after the opening night. Then it was played out in the open, in the small and fenced mid-yard of the Theatre, as a production of the Theatre and Film Production B.M.
This ZOO Story depends on the selected ambience and the mastership of the acting. The story of Albee is followed, strange in itself, where the author dramatically skilful mixes the sentimentality and cynicism. Jerry of Vebi Kerimi and Peter of Sefedin Nuredini are characters in which they build their talents, as the directing of Mjaku insists. They play the story openly and almost without any other stage effects. Everything is left to their power to reach the peak: subtle, explained, strong, convincing. The double situation is presented. Jerry of Vebi Kerimi is the prototype of a disappointed and destroyed man who does not see any reason to go on living, but he also does not have the force to do what he wants – to kill himself. Through the process of sentimental cynicism, with all challenges and calculations with oneself and his life, the man that he meets by chance is selected to be the executor of what he can not do. It is Peter of Sefedin Nuredini, who is faced with the game of death and with death (as we find out in the end) by chance – on the bench in the park where he regularly rests reading.
Everything in the interpretation of the two actors is a pure, realistic play. Left to the characters and the close view of the audience, the actors reveal one layer after another, although some of the layers of Albee’s play are not very clear. The senseless life of Jerry, as a strong scream against the absurd lasting of the absurd life, is played by Vebi Kerimi at strongly suggestive level that is seen in almost all situations in which Jerry is. He starts calmly, via sentimental feelings, when he tells us about his occasional need to talk to a real man on how it happened that he went to the ZOO. The explanation is cynical: to find out more on the way in which people live with the animals and how the animals live with each other, that is, how the animals live with people, separated by cages. The absurdity reaches its culmination when he enters the final stage of his idea: insulting and challenging he makes his accidental collocutor to kill him in a staged fight. All the scenes and phases of his character are played by Kerimi in an elaborated energy and with punctual association.
Peter of Sefedin Nuredini is closed in his provincial ideas and habits. As opposed to Jerry, Nuredini’s Peter is a character with strange calmness, inner color and closed in himself. The result is a game that is played via signs of living authenticity. The bitterness, absurdity, surprise, satisfaction or suspense about what is to follow or what has already happened are leveled via the directing of Mjaku. Together they build, decompose, and turn everything into an absurd, shadowed by the death that they want an executor for. The acting habitus of Bajrush Mjaku is in everything that they perform, as he insists in his directing that they both reveal and play their characters via themselves. That is why the places of all three of them are precisely determined and fulfilled in their ZOO Story.
P.S. The topics that these three plays tell about are fierce. Just as the life of their creators and their audience is. Is it one of the possible reasons that here and now nobody wants them!? Probably not! Maybe they are just victims to the general zombification that prevails in the country, culture and theatre.
Translated by: Elizabeta Bakovska