Matt Frei

Matt Frei works in Rome for BBC Radio.

Diary: In Albania

Matt Frei, 14 May 1992

Agim Qirjaqi, one of Albania’s most famous actors, and now director in residence at the National Theatre in Tirana, has ordered 60 pints of pigs’ blood for his production of Richard III. He intends to make the theatre’s small musty stage into an abattoir, dress the actors as butchers in blood-splattered white coats and hang ‘the criminals’ from their feet like cattle. This, Agim says, is the only way to illustrate the horrors of forty years of Enver Hoxha, the dictator who kept Albania in a Stalinist hell long after the rest of Eastern Europe had rejected Stalinism. Agim explained that he had grown tired of Shakespeare’s comedies. ‘Under Hoxha we had nothing but A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night, Measure for Measure … what we need now are the tragedies … to remind people what it was like.’

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