Ex-deportee back with ‘Medea’

Seven years ago, aged 19 and in his second year of art school in Tirana, Mikel Kalemi attempted a clandestine entry into Greece from Albania after walking days to get to the border. Greek patrol officers could not help but laugh at the young Albanian when, during his 24 hours in custody, he contended that his adventure’s sole purpose was to attend ancient Greek drama productions. Kalemi was deported, and, after three days of rest in his homeland, managed to finally get to Athens via Corfu. Kalemi has now made a legal return as a stage director to present Euripides’ «Medea» in Albanian (with Greek supertitles) with the Atelier 31 theater group. Following shows in Athens and Grevena, the production makes a third stop tonight in Thessaloniki, at the 1st Southeast Europe Drama Festival. A performance is also scheduled for Kavala on Wednesday. Prior to «Medea,» Kalemi had introduced ancient Greek drama to Albanian audiences with «Antigone.» Just days ago, Kalemi was a awarded a best director prize in Albania for his production of «Medea.» «Because of the dictatorship, there really isn’t a theatrical tradition in Albania. The ban did not allow us to build a real circuit in Albania,» said Kalemi. «The two tragedies made an overwhelming impact on audiences. Of course, they were aware of both ancient stories, but the themes they deal with are more relevant for Albanian society today than at any time before,» continued the stage director, in fluent Greek. Kalemi’s «Medea» combines classical and contemporary drama elements. His story is set out of time and place because «the same passion and the same hatred exists everywhere, always.» Tonight, Thessaloniki, Dasous Theater; Wednesday, Philippon Theater, Kavala.

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