‘Equus’ play breaks taboos in Albanian theatre history with first nude scenes
- "It's a play that makes us reflect on our conscience so that we can understand how much we have evolved as human beings. We are also free when we don't have clothes on. The body is an actor's instrument. A body on the stage is never a provocation," says Dino Mustafic, the renowned Bosnian director of Albanian origin
TIRANA, March 30 – Young Albanian actor Igli Zarka has broken taboos at the Albanian National Theatre with his debut role in British playwright’s “Equus” drama, appearing nude on stage as he performed the role of teenager in a show receiving mixed reactions.
Dino Mustafic, the renowned Bosnian director of Albanian origin, was applauded in Tirana for daring to stage a tough contemporary piece and featuring the first explicit nude role in the 70-year history of Albania’s National Theatre.
“It’s a play that makes us reflect on our conscience so that we can understand how much we have evolved as human beings. This performance also makes us reflect on ourselves and freedom and how much the society, lack of civilization and everybody makes us destroy our freedom,” the 47-year-old director said about his Albania “Equus” premiere.
Shaffer’s 1973 play about a psychiatrist’s attempt to treat a young man obsessively fascinated with horse, “Equus” creates a chilling portrait of how materialism and convenience have killed human capacity for worship and convenience. “Rarely has a playwright created an atmosphere and situation that so harshly pinpoint the spiritual and mental decay of modern man,” one critic wrote of the play written by Shaffer, an award winning playwright and screenwriter who died in mid-2016 at the age of 90.
Commenting on the much-rumored nude scene, Mustafic described it as an expression of freedom.
“No, it’s not nude, that is his costume. Our Alan rides outdoors. He takes pleasure in freedom. We are also free when we don’t have clothes on. The body is an actor’s instrument. A body on the stage is never a provocation. It has inspired from Michelangelo’s era to present day. If beauty can be a provocation, then I did it intentionally,” Mustafic told reporters about his play, staged at the National Theatre in Tirana from March 17 to 20.
Speaking about his debut role as Alan Strang at the National Theatre, young actor Igli Zarka said “it was something fantastic, the whole public supported our performance because the play is not about nudity.”
“We worked with so much love. The first time I appeared nude, just one night before the dress rehearsal, everybody supported me, which encouraged me to appear again and again,” said Zarka.
Being in the limelight for the first nude role, Igli Zarka, who has just graduated in acting from Tirana’s Academy of Arts said he was hardly coping with it.
“Nevertheless, I am not used to handling all of this,” he said.
Journalist Alma Mile said there were mixed reactions to the show, an all-Albanian performance with veteran actor Timo Flloko starring as the psychiatrist.
“During the interval acts, when the public had the opportunity to exchange thoughts with each other; there were also people who didn’t consider that theater, somebody called it courageous for the Albanian stage where nudity is still taboo, another one experienced it in the most normal way while somebody found it inappropriate,” Mile wrote.
“Despite the excesses, ‘Equus’ is a special work that targets beyond the everyday, a challenge for the theatre and actors performing in it. A work that will be long remembered by the public, hopefully not only because of the fact that a young man appeared nude,” she added.