Provocative Kosovan audio drama challenges perceptions of the country in the aftermath of conflict, to premier at refugee week
[London, 14/06/21] A new series of subversive audio dramas has been commissioned to shine a light on Kosovo, a country in the Balkans that has been overshadowed by its war-torn past. During this year’s UN Refugee Week in June, British-Bosnian writer Miran Hadžić, Tamasha Theatre Company, an award-winning company that nurtures talent and emerging artists from diverse backgrounds, and INTENT New Theatre , a Kosovo-UK company which creates collaborations between Balkan and British artists to promote theatre in the region, will be premiering the pieces through live ‘listening parties’ on Zoom, before they become available online through all major podcast platforms the following week [Monday 21st June].
Out of the Woods is a collection of fresh, funny and provocative works that showcase a new generation of writers from a region eager to regain agency and tell its own stories about its past, present and future.
Kosovo is the newest country in Europe, only gaining independence in 2008. The country is still trying to articulate its own identity following a recent history of war and upheaval. Its new status as an independent country has limited the possibilities for citizens of Kosovo to live and work in the rest of Europe. Despite these constraints, creativity is thriving and domestic arts festivals are flourishing.
This immersive new set of plays is a window into the vibrant and innovative cultural scene in the region and will exist as a medium for constructive social dialogue and connection. Three plays will be released following Refugee Week marking an ongoing international collaboration between the UK theatre scene and Kosovan writers.
In 2016, Fin Kennedy, playwright and artistic director at Tamasha, was commissioned to produce a series for BBC Radio 4 using unreleased songs by musician and songwriter, PJ Harvey. The story for this series, On Kosovo Field, was inspired by Harvey's notebooks, poems and song demos from her travels in the Balkans. Fin undertook extensive research, including travelling to Kosovo, where he retraced some of PJ Harvey’s steps and spoke to journalists, politicians and human rights activists working on conflict resolution and reconciliation. The 5-part drama follows siblings Rebeka and Dardan, who fled their homeland as unaccompanied child refugees in the 1990s. When a mass grave is uncovered close to their native village, they return to the country for the first time as young adults, to see if they can finally solve the mystery of what happened to their parents. During their travels, they uncover a young nation striving to forge a path for hope and reconciliation which inspires them to address their own fateful pasts and move on. This previous piece from Kennedy helped to fund and develop new voices from Kosovo and the Balkan region to write and produce the Out of the Woods audio dramas.
Tamasha houses a collective of emerging playwrights from diverse cultural backgrounds, led by Fin Kennedy. This is where Miran Hadžić was discovered, an emerging new writer of Bosnia-Herzegovinan heritage. Miran was teamed up with acclaimed Kosovan musician, Trimor Dhomi, and followed a similar creative process to Kennedy, which developed into his play Fifth Dimension, a 45-minute dark satire on a dystopian UK which was influenced by the breakup of Yugoslavia. The other two pieces in the collection, developed with INTENT, are written by young Kosovan women. The plays are quirky and tongue-and-cheek comedies that subvert expectations. They highlight the talent and original voices that are emerging from this isolated country.
Fin Kennedy says, “What I love most about the Kosovan plays is that neither mention the war or Kosovo’s troubled history at all. Instead, they look to the future, and also to the everyday, and in so doing genuinely feel like the voice of a new generation, who don’t even remember the war, and who just want to be artists, telling whatever stories they want, just like their peers across Europe.”
Out Of The Woods premieres at Counterpoints Arts’ Refugee Week (14th-20th June 2021) as a series of ‘listening parties’ events via Zoom. There will also be post-show online Q&As with the writers, directors and producers of the pieces as well as academics discussing the role of culture in post-conflict areas. These plays represent the first tranche of an ongoing initiative to use independent audio drama to bring contemporary Kosovan and Balkan stories to the world.
Out of the Woods will be available on Apple, Spotify and all major podcast platforms on Monday 21st June, or from the 17th of June during Refugee Week at any of the events listed in the editors notes.
Fin Kennedy, Miran Hadžić and Mary Martin (INTENT) are available for interviews. Please contact email@example.com