Play excerpt: Jeton Neziraj’s “Yue Madeleine Yue,” a tragicomedy about anti-Roma discrimination

Yue Madeleine Yue, a tragicomedy by Jeton Neziraj about the plight of the Roma in Europe, was originally written for the Volkstheater in Vienna, Austria. Produced by Qendra Multimedia of Prishtina in Kosovo, the play premiered for the first time February 24, 2012 at the Volkstheater in Hundsturm.

“As I was planning to re-write this drama,” Neziraj says, “I was shocked by a video circulating on the net. The video showed a young Chinese girl named Yue Yue, who was hit by a truck and left alone bleeding on the street. There were 18 people that passed by indifferently and didn’t help her out. Another truck drove over her as if she were a piece of paper. The Chinese girl died after a few days in a coma. The connection between Yue Yue and Madeleine, the character of this play, is obvious. This drama is dedicated to Yue Yue.”

"Yue Madeleine Yue | Courtesy of Gazeta Express & Express Online

“Yue Madeleine Yue | Courtesy of Gazeta Express & Express Online

Below are three excerpts from Yue Madeleine Yue, courtesy of the author who does not provide any further explanations about the references in the title of the play.

The play tells the story of a Roma family that was forcedly expelled from Germany to Kosovo. In their new reality, this family confronts the challenges of living in a recently newborn state. One day, a Roma girl named Madeleine falls in a hole that was created by a construction company. The girl falls in a coma. As she fights for her life, her father strives to pursue justice. He faces bureaucratic officers, businessmen, policemen and embassy workers.

Yue Madeleine Yue premieres May 21 at the National Theater of Kosovo and then performs May 23 and 24 at CZKD – Center for Cultural Decontamination in Belgrade, Serbia.

For an interview with the playwright, visit my article “Plight of the Roma surfaces in leading Kosovar playwright’s political drama.”

Excerpt 1:

“MADELEINE ALBRIGHT”
[Madeleine’s Testimony]

 In Germany, I grew up feeling that we were the happiest family in the world. Especially my dad, he took care in showing me only the best parts of the world. Father, even when he talked about the war in Kosovo, he only used to tell me those parts that either were not that terrifying, or were ridiculous. He and mother, together with many others were forceably expelled by the Serbian army. They stayed for some weeks in a camp in Macedonia, together with thousands of other refugees from Kosovo. Father often liked to tell me the story about Madeleine Albright, the U.S. Ex-Secretary of State, and how she came to the refugee camp. [Imitates Father] “Madame Albright came in and the refugees stormed to hug and kiss her. Me, meanwhile, I sat next to the tent and cried like a child. That day I promised myself that if my wife would bear a daughter, I’d call her Madeleine. In an everlasting memory to this great American woman.” So, now, Katja, at last I told you the secret to my name…!


Excerpt 2:

GERMAN EMBASSY IN KOSOVO
[Father meets an Official in the German Embassy in Prishtina]

EMBASSY OFFICIAL: We accepted your request. We reviewed it carefully, but unfortunately the embassy can’t do anything.

FATHER: But you know in what conditions the hospitals are here!

EMBASSY OFFICIAL: I’m sorry. I understand, but we can’t do anything.

FATHER: This is not fair. She was born in Germany. Of course, this is my country, but it’s not her’s. She doesn’t belong here.

EMBASSY OFFICIAL: Other people may have already told you: Even if you were born in Germany, that doesn’t make you a German citizen.

FATHER: But she’s fighting death itself. I beg you, at least grant a visa to the girl. Make it possible for her to return for treatment. I have some friends there who will take care of her. Myself and my wife we’d like to be there with her, but we don’t have to be. But for the girl’s sake, please…

EMBASSY OFFICIAL: We have many cases like yours and honestly, we feel badly about it. We understand the difficult circumstances of re-patriated people. We understand them very well, please believe us. Did you see the long lines of people in front of the embassy? People have burdens. They escape povery, they escape their problems… But when it comes to deported returnees, we’ve received strict guidelines, which we have no authority to circumvent.

FATHER: What kind of German regulations are these, ones that are always “strict” and are never broken, when it applies to the Roma people?

EMBASSY OFFICIAL: I don’t like your cynicism. I do not wish to discuss these things with you, Sir. Please don’t offend the German state this way. Germany, more or less, was in favor of the Roma people, in that it allowed you to stay in Germany during the Kosovo war. This favor saved you from the war happening here, but that does not make you “German citizens.” You can’t take advantage of the German aid you received like that.

FATHER: How well we know the “German aid”, in present times as well as from history…

EMBASSY OFFICIAL: You’re beating me on, but I don’t want to talk about this. The decisions of our government in relation to the Roma are very democratic and we’re proud of this. Myself, personally, I have supported the decision for re-patriation. I think that now, ten years after the end of the Kosovo war, the German taxpayers have absolutely no more obligations toward these people.

FATHER: When it comes to Roma people, the German democracy sounds to me as a “Neo-Nazi German-democracy.”

EMBASSY OFFICIAL: That’s it! This is intolerable! You see how you abuse it. I gave you an appointment without taking into consideration any protocol, but you’re taking advantage of it. You’re being offensive and I can’t possibly tolerate this any longer. Get out of here, before I call the embassy guards.

FATHER: I Germania legargă mara ćhaja ano meripe, numaj me na ka mukhavla. (Translation: Germany has brought my daughter to death, but I won’t let her!)

EMBASSY OFFICIAL: What? What language is this?

[Father walks away. Embassy official seems confused]

EMBASSY OFFICIAL: God, what a nasty smell. I have to open the windows.

“If I came to power one day, the elemination of the Roma will be my first and utmost important task.”***

What am I saying? This is impossible! It was not me talking. I didn’t say anything. I don’t dare to think like this. This is intolerable. How did I dare!

[He slaps himself]

But, that the Roma are nasty, there is no doubt and this has nothing to do with racism. I’m not a racist!

*** For professional reasons, this declaration by the Embassy Official is put in quotation marks. It is simply thought to transmit to the reader that this “thought” of the German Official may have not been spoken aloud. I beg your pardon for this formal explanation, which you may have undoubtedly understood.

Excerpt 3:

ISI MAND JEKH ĆHURIK ANO KOLIN
[Testimony of the Mother]

Moro rom ʒivdinela ano suno. Amen na sijem gaʒé, thaj vov na hakǎrela akava. Vov nivar na lela kan so von na kamna amen. Phengǔm olesqe te naśa e germaniatar maj angle desar te astarol amen i policia. Te naśa aver thanende, ani Holandia, Belgia ja aver thane. Ko agor e agoresqo phenelape so o rroma isi rroma numaj kana siton ko dromipe. Vi i baxt isi mamuj amende. Hakǎrava mande sar jekh nangi ʒuvli kolake kerde o manuśa sa so mangle, thaj ko agor frdimi maśkar i ćik. Darava. Ake, akate ano kolin, isi mand jekh ćhurik, koja mudarel mand. O Devla, bareja, arakh mara ćhaja.

English Translation:
I have a knife in my chest. 

My husband lives in dreams. We are different from the Gadjot and he never understood this. He never understood those that don’t like us. I told him to leave Germany before the police came. To go somewhere else, to the Netherlands, Belgium or anywhere else. Last but not least, as the saying goes: Roma are Roma only when they’re travelling. Even the luck is against us. I feel like I’ve been raped and left naked in the mud. I’m very anxious. Here, in my chest I have a knife at my throat. God, save my daughter.
From YUE MADELEINE YUE | Copyright 2012 by Jeton Neziraj


OTHER NOTES from Jeton Neziraj

If you wish to stage this play, but difficulties arise because:
a) You’re a poor theatre troupe, and don’t have the funds.
b) You do not have a Roma actor.
c) This play has more male or female characters, than you have.
d) Other

The author may suggest to you the following:

First, don’t panic. It’s not the end of the world. Calm yourself down and think about the following solutions:
a) Stage the play with only six actors if you wish, allowing some of the actors to play two or more characters. 
b) Of course, you don’t necessarily need a Roma actor, to play a Roma.
c) Besides the main characters, you may freely change the gender of the other actors as you see fit.
d) Don’t think about “other” things, but get the work going.

A final note: Please don’t address any possible complaints you may have about this tragedy-comedy to the author, but send them directly to the government of Germany and or that of Kosovo.

Jeton Neziraj, a leading Kosovar playwright

Jeton Neziraj, a leading Kosovar playwright

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