The theatrical piece Patriotic Hypermarket is a piece from the artistic research project Perspectives: the meeting of Serbian and Albanian history, which was produced collaboratively by Kulturanova in Novi Sad and the Multimedia Center in Prishtina in 2010.
The project was prefaced by interviews with forty Serbs and Albanians, who were asked about their personal memories during the war and their visions of the future. After researching, a photographic exhibition was organized and the interviews were published. The project closed with a performance of “Patriotic Hypermarket” directed by Dino Mustafiq and dramaturgists Milena Bogavac and Jeton Neziraj.
I was lucky that during my stay in Belgrade Patriotic Hypermarket was being performed in the theater, and after I saw it, one of my first thoughts was why wasn't this performed in Prishtina as well? After the play I met up with Milena Bogavac, who told me more about the project: the goal of the project wasn't to change the political situation, but to change the point of view of the audience and the actors. The main point was collaboration. This collaboration during rehearsals ended up really touching personal beliefs, which began to deepened into reason, without putting nationality in the mix.
During the time when journalists were selected to do interviews with people in Kosovo, the important thing was not to place the focus only on the conflict, but to include the histories of cohabitation. The people interviewed didn't belong to a certain group that lived through the war. Everyone was included, in order to achieve as diverse a collection of histories as possible.
Milena and Jeton initially worked together over Skype and Gmail, and later on Milena visited Prishtina to understand the situation and the place from which the histories originated. The interviews usually contained black comedy, but the emotional content was essential. To structure the play, Milena said that a kind of “ping-pong” system was used , which gave the performance more emotion in an unending rhythm.
According to Milena, “One of the things that left an impression on me in Prishtina were the supermarkets – they are even bigger than the ones in Belgrade, and it was also interesting because during the interviews that I did, the histories of people, they often mentioned business, partnerships between Serbs and Albanians in business, and this was seen as a positive step in improving relations between the two peoples."
“For love of your homeland, there's no need for an ad! In the Patriotic Hypermarket, love for the homeland is the most sold product!” This is how the play begins, by discussing how manipulation and propaganda have been used since the post-war period. The idea of selling and buying values as a result of the self-interested manipulations of politicians, political campaigns, media, speeches is explored, which results in the changing of statistics, stereotypes and prejudices.
The play was performed a few times in Belgrade, but it has never been invited to Prishtina. In Serbia it was well received, but there were also nationalist comments from people who said the play was “pro-Albanian” and “anti-values.” I think important thing is that the work was presented and people have seen it, and I think that the public in Prishtina would receive it positively as well.
The article was originally written in Albanian.
Photo credit: Dardan Zhegrova
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