55 SHADES OF GAY
By Jeton Neziraj
The topic of gay marriage touches on what in Kosovo is a taboo. The gay community here exists in complete concealment . . . But it would not be a piece by Jeton Neziraj if an ironic flair wasn’t floating over every scene. This irony . . . is the force that propels his plays . . . An ironic theater that prefers to let contradictions stand for themselves, instead of reconciling them.
— Ralph Hammerthaler, Theater der Zeit, Germany
The town may be fictive but the legal context is not: an article of Kosovo’s Constitution guarantees equality for all, but Kosovo family law clearly defines marriage as a bond between a man and a woman. It’s exactly this tension that the play uses as a jumping rope.
— Lura Limani, Prishtina Insight, Kosovo
55 Shades of Gay is not as premature as one might think, that is because it penetrates without roiling the audience, but by imposing actual reflection, even though it addresses a subject that we refuse to consider.
— Donjeta Demolli, Koha, Kosovo
Yesterday’s show at the National Theater gave an impetus to the lack of discourse on LGBT issues in Albanian artistic spheres, at a time when art can serve quite well to deliver a crucial message outside the framework of conservatism and homophobia.
— Gazeta Express, Kosovo
This view of international intervention from the recipient’s perspective treats the locals’ homophobic bigotry and the international community’s patronizing attitudes with equal quantities of ridicule.
— William Gregory, The Theatre Times, England
This irreverent, provocative comedy, staged originally in the burlesque style when it premiered in Pristina in 2017, sets the EU on a collision course with the locals of a provincial Kosovar town. — William Gregory, The Theatre Times, England
55 Shades of Gay has been performed in Kosovo, Albania, Serbia, Macedonia, and the Czech Republic. It had its U.S. premiere in March, 2019 in b NYC at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club. The photos above are from the La MaMa production.
ABOUT JETON NEZIRAJ
His plays map the contemporary Kosovar experience, looking at what it is to be LGBT or Roma in the region, at systemic corruption and crumbling infrastructure, at the political, economic, and social legacy of the war, the semi-deification of Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright, and at the shifting role of theater within all this.
— Natasha Tripney, The Stage, England
A prolific writer . . . caustic, bursting with words and energy . . . Neziraj exhibits a verve that is as joyous and unbridled as it is cynical. — Jean-Pierre Thibaudat, Mediapart, France
Jeton Neziraj is the former artistic director of The National Theater of Kosovo, and the founder and current director of Qendra Multimedia. He has written over twenty-five plays which have been staged, translated, and performed throughout Europe and the United States.