Jeton Neziraj is a playwright and screenwriter. His plays have been translated into many languages, including French, Italian, German, English, Spanish, Turkish, Kurdish, Polish, Romanian, Bulgarian, Serbian, Bosnian, Croat, Slovenian, Macedonian, and Montenegrin. They have been presented at festivals and been performed by a great number of theaters and acting companies, such as Volkstheater (Vienna), L’Espace d’un instant (Paris), Teater de Vill (Stockholm), Festival Vie (Modena), Schlachthaus Theater (Bern), Gerald W. Lynch Theater (New York), Gare au Théâtre (Paris), Theater Heilbronn (Heilbronn), Bitef Theatre (Belgrade), Theater Nomad (London), Markus Zohner Theater Company (Lugano), Istanbul Municiple Theater, The National Theater of Wales (Cardiff), Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden (Wiesbaden), Yale Drama Coalition (New Haven), The National Theater of Montenegro (Podgorica), International Theatre Festival MESS (Sarajevo), as well as The National Theatre of Kosovo (Prishtina), of which he was for a time the artistic director. His screenplay for the film, Donkeys of the Border, has been an official selection at several film festivals. His critical writing includes a study of the celebrated Kosovar actor, Faruk Begolli. He is a member of the European Cultural Parliament and one of the founders of POLIP – International Literature Festival, which takes place every year in Prishtina.

Dusan Komarcevic: In an interview, you said that you belong to a small number of artists who are not under the control of the Kosovo authorities, and that it is because of this that you are free to awaken people’s “feelings for others.” How did this come about?

Jeton Neziraj: It isn’t such a mystery. I can explain with a short story. As a child, in elementary school, I had a Serbian teacher who taught us the Serbian language. We called the teacher Bora. He was a good man. He’s still alive, but I haven’t seen him for over 25 years. During the war I often asked myself: what if I were to find myself facing my teacher, Bora? Could I kill him? No, I told myself. Could he kill me? In every variation I could think of, the answer was: No. Then, after the war I made many Serbian friends, and I was sure that if, hypothetically, I were to meet them in some circumstance of war, I would not be able to kill them. Nor would they kill me. And so, I started with these sorts of naïve thoughts and questions, and then later I formulated some more sophisticated positions on the shared sense of suffering and pain of the Other; on pain which, when stripped of all its tags, is simply human pain; on suffering that has no religion, nationality, or homeland, but is just suffering. It is that simple! Don’t you think?

from Kosovo 2.0