Doruntina Basha is a playwright and screenwriter from Prishtina. She is the author of five plays, including plays for children, and several short screenplays. In 2005, Saved by the Stick premiered in the Children’s Theater Center in Skopje in a Macedonian translation. Doruntina is also the co-author of Travels to Unmikistan (2003), a Kosovar-French collaboration project that premiered in Kosovo and was subsequently shown in France and published in a bilingual edition by L’espace d’instant in Paris. Her play The Finger (2011) was awarded the prize for Best Socially Engaged Contemporary Play (2011) in a competition organized by the Heartefact Fund in Belgrade, Serbia. It also won the Golden Laurel for Best Balkan Contemporary Play at the MESS International Theater Festival in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (2013), and the prize for Best National Play in the Flaka e Janarit theater festival in Gjilan, Kosovo (2015). It premiered at the Bitef Theater in Belgrade in 2012, followed by productions in the Albanian Theater in Skopje in 2013, the Sartr Theater in Sarajevo in 2014, as part of the triptych Balkan Requiem in the Hundsturm Theater in Vienna in 2014, at the National Theater of Kosovo in 2015, and at Kujtim Spahivogli Experimental Theater in Tirana, Albania in 2018. It has been translated into Serbian, BHS (Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian), English, French, German, Italian, and Turkish. Her screenplay for the forthcoming feature film, Vera Dreams of the Sea, is currently in production.
Dardan Zhegrova: How did you come up with the idea to write this play?
Doruntina Basha: The idea was deliberate, as I’d started thinking about the issue of missing persons way back in 2004. At that time, I was working with forum theaters, contracted by the UN, which also enabled me to conduct research, meet family members of missing persons, and understand more about this fragile issue . . . What was particularly intriguing was the fact that the ones who had no information and were waiting to see what would happen were women, whereas the men were the missing ones. In the play I tried to present the perspective of women in a patriarchal society. The situation is complicated, a mother- in-law and daughter-in-law living together . . . The characters try to preserve some patriarchal values or traditions even as the men of the house have long been missing . . . In The Finger everything takes place inside a kitchen. Since the beginning of gender representation in art and literature – as we know them today – kitchens have been a place attributed to women, a space wherein they have full authority. In this way, The Finger speaks, among other issues, about the patriarchal norms that are, in the absence of men, reproduced by the women themselves.