November 28, 2023 | Tuesday

Kosovo Theatre Showcase – Connecting the Local Theatre Scene to the World

Kosovo Theatre Showcase is a yearly theatre event organized by Qendra Multimedia in collaboration with several local public and independent cultural institutions. Kosovo Theatre Showcase features a program of theatre shows, a discursive program of thematic discussions on theatre-related topics, an educational program of workshops and masterclasses for young artists from Kosovo along with promotional events for the latter. In the blog below, Aurela Kadriu from Qendra Multimedia explains how the support from the European Union Office in Kosovo helped the showcase grow into one of the most important theatre events in the region.

By Aurela Kadriu, Qendra Multimedia

Photo: Kosovo Theatre Showcase 2023 guests at the entrance of the City Theater of Gjilan/Gnjilane

Kosovo Theatre Showcase is an annual theatre event that brings together international festival programmers, critics, and other theatre professionals in Prishtina and other cities across Kosovo. Each year, approximately 10 theatre shows and performances from Kosovo are presented to diverse audiences, along with about 5 performances from Europe as part of a complementary program of ‘guest performances’.

Photo: Kosovo Theatre Showcase guests at the audiovisual walk Trails of the 90s Underground Culture in Pristina by Florent Mehmeti

The 2023 edition, co-funded by the European Union Office in Kosovo, took place between October 24-30 in Pristina, Gjilan/Gnjilane, Ferizaj/Uroševac, Gjakova/Djakovica and Prizren. This edition was organized in collaboration with IETM – International Network for Contemporary Performing Arts, a prestigious and one of the oldest international networks representing the voice of over 500 organizations and individual artists in contemporary performing arts. This collaboration expanded the Kosovo Theatre Showcase’s reach to a broader international audience, facilitating interactions and collaborations with local performing arts professionals. An Info Session on the new EU-funded program “Perform Europe” unveiled significant opportunities for performing arts institutions and artists in Kosovo to engage in regional and international partnerships for touring their productions and performances.

Originating in 2018 as Qendra Multimedia Showcase, the Kosovo Theatre Showcase initially provided a space for international programmers and stakeholders interested in Qendra’s work. At that time, Qendra Multimedia lacked a dedicated performance venue, often staging its engaged theatre performances in various locations across the country. Consequently, the showcase served as an opportunity to consolidate its works into one week. However, after the first edition, the need for expansion into a national event became evident. Through its programs, Qendra Multimedia has extensively contributed to bridging the gap between public and independent cultural scenes in the country, focusing on collaborations with local public theaters.

The Kosovo Theatre Showcase serves as a promotional and networking platform, offering local theater institutions and independent cultural organizations, collectives and artists the opportunity to present their work to an international audience of programmers, selectors, theatre critics, and other professionals. 

Photo: New Plays/New Worlds Program / Kosovo Theatre Showcase 2023

The primary goal of this platform is to feature the most impressive and accomplished theatre works in Kosovo. In addition to experiencing plays produced in Kosovo—a country with one of the most vibrant theatre scenes in the Balkans— guests also engage with local theatre makers through discussions, panels, and other complementary programs. Alongside the artistic program, the discursive program involves speakers from various backgrounds discussing pertinent topics concerning the role of theatre in different social contexts. Workshops and presentations within the Kosovo Theatre Showcase aim to provide a platform for young people to showcase their work and learn. These workshops encompass theatre criticism, playwriting, and performance. The “New Plays / New Worlds” program highlights local, regional, and international playwrights, whose plays are presented to the audience by young actors from Kosovo. The International Theatre Market seeks to promote new ideas and build bridges of collaboration between local and international actors. Furthermore, the theatre criticism workshop aims to educate the new generation of theatre critics from Kosovo, Serbia, North Macedonia, and Albania.

In addition to the program of shows, performances, discussions, and networking events, the Kosovo Theatre Showcase 2023 hosted specific events within the Reconnection 2.0 program, financed and managed by the European Union Office in Kosovo and implemented by Qendra Multimedia from Pristina and Heartefact Fund from Belgrade. The artistic residencies of two Serbian artists, beneficiaries of the Reconnection 2.0 artistic residencies, were presented during the 2023 edition of Kosovo Theatre Showcase, along with the show from Serbia titled “A Story of Burgers and Other Things,” produced by Heartefact Fund.

Photo: Snapshot from EU co-financed theatre show Negotiating Peace, produced by Qendra Multimedia, part of Kosovo Theatre Showcase 2023. Photo by: Atdhe Mulla

Over the years, through the Reconnection 2.0 program, Qendra Multimedia has utilized the platform of Kosovo Theatre Showcase for cultural exchanges with Serbia. This initiative has brought shows from Serbia for the first time to cities like Ferizaj and Gjilan, along with organizing discussions with artists and performers from Serbia and hosting performances from residents.

“Kosovo Theatre Showcase―because the European theatre scene needs the resuscitated Kosovo theatre. We are coming!”