‘We are about two metres tall’
Following last year’s successful launch of the theatre on stilts project ‘Merula’ in Kosovo, the team gathers again in July to advance their skills and stage a performance on August 1 and 2, a tale that places a couple of young heroes and dreamers in exile.
MUNICH - The ‘Merula’ theatre on stilts group in Kosovo is motivated and excited to work on the continuation of last year’s project. This year a more advanced performance is planned, more elaborate in its content and staging.
Like last year, Peter Pruchniewitz, co-founder and member of the theatre company ‘Die Stelzer’ and drama writer Fjolla Hoxha from Kosova will cooperate with Xchange Perspectives e.V. (XCP) to realise the second phase of the project.
“We welcome you to Shadërvan in Prizren on August 1 and 2, towards sunset… We are about two meters tall, so there’s no chance of missing us,” says Fjolla.
Thanks to the funding provided by ‘Stadt Muenchen’, BMU and countless private donations, the financing of the follow-up is almost secured, but there are still funding gaps to be closed, especially to cover meals and transportation costs for the participants.
Please support the project ‘Merula -- Multilingual dialogic theatre on stilts in Kosovo’ through Betterplace.
In cooperation with AWO-Kosovo, a Prizren-based NGO, and the German theatre company ‘Die Stelzer’, Xchange Perspective e.V. (XCP) carried out a six-day intensive workshop from August 19 to 25, 2013, to stage a unique multilingual dialogic theatre on stilts.
A group of 12 young adults between 14 and 17 from different social, ethnic and religious backgrounds in Kosovo learned how to walk on stilts, to express themselves within creative writing sessions and to perform in front of an audience alone and as a group.
Together with Peter Pruchniewitz, co-founder and member of the theatre company ‘Die Stelzer’ and drama writer Fjolla Hoxha from Kosova, the young adults developed the performance, which was staged at the Shadervan central square, during the International Dokufest Prizren, in August 2013.
The name Merula reflects what many of the young participants in the project aspire for: The latin word for ‘black bird’, is what Kosovo as well means in both Albanian and Serbian. The bird, in its very nature, sees the world as borderless. For many of the Merula youth, the everyday struggle to cancel borders and bridge divides is synonymous with achieving freedom and belonging to a diverse culture that embraces them all.
“My ancestors are Bosnians coming from Albania, I was born in Ludwigsburg, Germany. Unfortunately eight years later we were deported to Kosovo and now I am here,” says one of the participants. The story is similar to many of the youths’, as each brings frustrations, and hopes for the future.
“Discrimination, racism, nationalism bullying — there are a lot of bad things,” explains another participant. During these six days, the youth were able to air their frustrations, and put their hopes in the form of drama text.
The play performed at the end of the training, in front of an audience in Prizren, expressed hope, and the need to belong. “I’d like to make people aware that things are improving and can become better,” another participant explains.
Theatre on stilts as a method allows the youth to connect, and trust one another. To first stand straight and then move around freely, each participant needs the support of others. This basic trust is a great foundation to build on, for more interdependence, across barriers of language and culture. “We all trust each other. ‘Merula’ is like a small family to me,” a participant says.
Theatre on stilts had not existed in the region before the ‘Merul’a project. In addition to cost efficiency, it allows the participants to be independent from established theatre structures. These two elements combined give a unique opportunity to develop new plays and to perform in public, without the constrictions of space or money. Through this process, the youth learned to take advantage of their local resources to put up a show, such as sowing costumes or building equipment.
The result is a great feeling of achievement and more plans for the future. “To achieve something so great in such a short time is just beyond words,” says one of the participants.
The ‘Merula’ 2013 project was realised through countless donations by individuals and the voluntary efforts of the participants and the project team. Therefore, Xchange Perspectives e.V. would like to thank everyone who supported and contributed to the project and hopefully will continue to do so. Thank you!