Culture

"Chef Lumturimi" at the celebration of the "Ode" against the abandonment of the country

Descriptive Text

With the premiere of the comedy "Chef Lumturimi" written by Lirak Çelaj and directed by Florent Mehmet, the "Oda" theater has marked its 21st anniversary as an independent institution in the theater scene. The comedy, written by the founding duo of this independent theater, deals with the issue of visa liberalization and comes as an appeal not to leave the country. It comes in the spirit of the performances with which "Oda" started its journey as an independent institution, to become a reference point of cultural life not only in Kosovo

As a reflection and comparison between life in Kosovo and that in the countries of the European Union, the comedy show "Chef Lumturimi" written by Lirak Çelaj and directed by Florent Mehmet comes to the public as an appeal not to leave the country. The show deals with one of the current issues in Kosovo: visa-free travel to European countries. It brings developments, trends and phenomena as it hits with sarcasm.

The serious approach is extended through the comic as a theatrical production dedicated to the ignorance of avarice that aims for a solution through fleeing the country. "Chef Lumturimi" proves the opposite.

The first scene of the comedy opens with the main character being late for his workplace. The role is played by Arbit Zymeri. The event takes place in a car wash business where he begins to unfold the negligence at work as a kind of freedom that paves the way for him with the liberalization of visas. The idea comes for a new opportunity for him. Vetoni, a role played by the actor Besart Sllamniku, is his boss.

As the story unfolds, another character, that of Feriz, an elderly gossipmonger begins his fictional account of living abroad. The prejudices of society are in his conversations with the other old man played by Lirak Çelaj. "Chef Lumturimi" is the gift that "Oda" gave to the public on its 21st anniversary. It comes in the spirit of the performances with which it started its journey as an independent institution, to become a reference point of cultural life not only in Kosovo.

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The car wash turns into a cafe, where they talk about everything they "know" about European countries. They are like conversations without arguments that are difficult to dispute when the self-confidence of the protagonists in what they speak is taken as a basis (Photo: Agon Mehmeti)

Alarm and question mark about what happens every day

On Friday night when the premiere was given, Lirak Çelaj said that with a show like this they intended to appeal not to let the place go.

"The moment when the decision to liberalize visas was made was very important. It was and continues to be talked about that all the workers will go to Germany, to EU countries. We have tried to appeal to the youth through comedy that not everything is much better there than here. We have tried to suggest them not to leave the place", said Çelaj after the performance where Berat plays.

The car wash turns into a cafe where they talk about everything they "know" about European countries. They are like conversations without arguments that are difficult to dispute when the self-confidence of the protagonists in what they speak is taken as a basis. On the other side is the naive Happiness who believes every word and starts to practice their instructions when he goes to work in Germany. He is the character of a miser. The irony about the work of politicians comes when it is mentioned the display of their work through the posting of photos on social networks. The show also has sarcasm about art today. Especially for the lyrics of the songs. It reflects on the imposition of adaptation in a new culture and the irony of those who change their identity for a short time in other countries.

When the first day of work of Happiness in the foreign country begins to unfold, the one who believed everything easily, begins to understand the opposite of what was said. He decided to come back with the idea that open arms will be positioned similarly and will be valued much more. It turns out the opposite. Expected from the former employer and former colleagues pretending to be employed as robots. One of them is Magi, a role played by actress Florieta Bajraktari.

The director of the show, Florent Mehmeti, said that "Chief of Happiness" is their concern regarding the enthusiasm to flee the country.

"It is in the wake of the comedies that we have worked on that aim to deal with current topics of social concern, certainly through a comic prism, through sarcasm as a tool of hyperbole, to raise alarm and questions about the developments that happen every day. I think that comedy has a divine role in this environment that has the freedom to make fun of itself first, even in this show, to continue afterwards with phenomena and concepts, people's concerns", said the director Mehmeti.

During the conversation of the characters - in the show that communicates in harmony with the scenography of Enes Sahir - for a moment the acoustics of the hall become a topic of discussion in a few minutes, there is a kind of sarcasm about the stage that had served as a space for staging the opera "Lo Speziale" that it was shown on July 5, 6 and 7 last year. The comic opera in three acts by Joseph Haydn was created in collaboration with the Department of Musical Art of the University of Pristina.

"Even the Opera came and they told us, can we do a concert here because the acoustics are very good", says the character of Feriz, played by the actor Nëntor Fetiu, in the show.

"We met before January 1, 2023, and we had the idea for Lirak to write something about the liberalization of visas, because it has been talked about a lot. We really enjoyed the text, I like his writing style. It's not the first play I've performed with Lirak's text, it was 'Inspector Limit's Past' and this is the result, we hope the audience likes it", he said after the play.

After Friday's premiere, it was also shown on Saturday, while it will be repeated on March 5, 21 and 22.

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During the conversation of the characters, where for a moment the acoustics of the hall become a topic of discussion in a few minutes, there is a kind of sarcasm about the stage that had served as a space for staging the opera "Lo Speziale" (Photo: Agon Mehmeti)

The mission of "Oda" as an incomparable institution

The premiere of the comedy show "Chef Lumturimi", in addition to another product in the theater repertoire, was also the toast with which "Oda" theater celebrated 21 years since its foundation.

On March 1, 2003, Lirak Çelaj and Florent Mehmeti would establish the "Oda" theater and use one of the spaces of the Palace of Youth and Sports in Pristina.

Not a few were the challenges of a newly formed independent cultural institution, considering the conditions in which they would operate. For these years, he has enriched the theater repertoire in the country with over 50 productions and over a hundred activities every year.

The co-founder of the "Oda" theater, playwright and actor Lirak Çelaj said that the challenges were many in the beginning of the institution when financial support was missing. According to him, they have been surpassed with dedication and enthusiasm and now "Oda" has become a cultural reference point in the country and on the international scene.

"I think you have become a cultural reference point in Kosovo and not only. We have become a point of reference on the regional and European stage, even with the United States we have had very close and successful collaborations and this makes me feel proud of all these achievements of the 'Oda' theater, which would not have been achieved without the support of the artistic community", said Çelaj.

He has assessed the journey with "Oda" as long, difficult and with many vicissitudes. He also mentioned infrastructural problems.

"Cultural policy has fundamentally changed as far as independent cultural institutions are concerned. These also affect the 'Oda' theater. We also face an infrastructure problem. We believe that we will be able to enter into the renovation of the hall, which would be a very positive thing that would meet the standards", said Çelaj.

The director Florent Mehmeti, the director and co-founder of the "Oda" theater, has considered the activity for the cultural scene, with emphasis on the theatrical one, a sacred mission, in addition to the conditions in which he operates.

"Improving the conditions for our work is improving the conditions for the public, which in Pristina we do not have in the sense of theater. We are on our toes. This should be a super-priority for the municipal government of Pristina itself. We have always been kept by our enthusiasm and passion in communicating with the public to bring works that elaborate on the concerns we have, the current events happening in Kosovo", said Mehmeti.

According to him, what "Oda" brings is a cultural and artistic offer for Pristina and not only. In order to develop the activity, he said that the need to intervene in the object is immediate.

"We continue as we consider it a sacred mission. This has sustained us for these 21 years. It is the permanent contact with the public that sustains us. The 'Oda' theater is located in the Palace of Youth, which is a local public enterprise. We are now three years into the procedure to postpone the renovation, since the need for renovation is becoming more and more urgent every day. In this aspect, the procedures are moving slowly, common in Kosovo", said Mehmeti.

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The irony about the work of politicians comes when it is mentioned the display of their work through the posting of photos on social networks. The show also has sarcasm about art today. Especially for the lyrics of the songs (Photo: Agon Mehmeti)

The "Multimedia" center led by the playwright Jeton Neziraj has been developing the activity in this institution for three years now. He said that the anniversary of "Oda" shows the necessity of existence and the extraordinary role it has played in the theater scene.

"It has also filled an extraordinary space in the field of independent theater, so in the context of cultural spaces, it is actually the only independent theater in Kosovo. In this regard, it remains an important, incomparable cultural institution and I believe that it has played an important role in the emancipation and animation of the public in Kosovo", said Neziraj.

The appearance of the space that the "Oda" theater uses has not changed at all. Today it is one of the highlights of the independent cultural scene. The toast for the event was the new show in the theater's repertoire, with which he warns that he has no intention of stopping.

"The theater has functioned even in these circumstances. They are unfavorable and the maximum efforts of artists to survive and create art. But the circumstances are not dignified, because the conditions are what they are. The infrastructure is outdated and the need for investment is great. I hope that the Municipality of Pristina and the Ministry of Culture will finally understand that the existence of the theater is, first of all, a need, a necessity of the capital, the public", said Jeton Neziraj, author of many plays that have been created in the space of the theater "Oda" and have resulted in success on the international stage.

"Oda" has entered the first year of its third decade. Next to the conditions, the contrast is the activities. For these years, he has enriched the theater repertoire in the country with over 50 productions and over a hundred activities every year.