Assist in Albania my home, the show of Aleksandros Memetaj it is moving for an Albanian, and food for thought for an Italian, but, at times, a mixture of anger and joy unites both.
It is a return to the Albanian past and it is a return to the past of that Italy of the early '90, but, above all, it is, unfortunately, a return to the present that floods the audience with its truth: the Italians seem to have not changed, while the Albanians are no longer "Albanian".
It is Italian Memetaj, Italian for the Venetian accent; he is Italian for documents and because he lives in Rome, but his home has remained Albania. "Albania my house" because that is the phrase that the author felt everywhere in the Veneto of the Nineties, those of his childhood; because it is there, in Vlora, that, after the journey steeped in sweat, almost a migratory exodus, on the contrary, masterfully told on the stage, in that ferry sailed from Brindisi that brings him back after years in his native city, the child really feels at home.
It is home when its "being" begins and ends only with its own name, and begins to understand that only there is a natural way, there is no longer "Albanian", there is above all the Albanian adjective "Shit".
It is there, among those individuals who are ugly with hunger and suffering, children of a communism with an inhuman face, who discovers his identity and himself corresponding to his legal name; it is in Vlora that she feels herself to be like everyone else and judged by no one.
And it does so with a wonderful hymn to this mother-city, perhaps the only one in Albania that still allows us to feel love without the arrogance of fake change and without that hasty and sad "invention of traditions" prevailing elsewhere.
It still seems capable of giving a sense of belonging without any nationalist myth, and above all it still involves its romantic melancholy far from the echoes of homologating consumption.
It is the city that welcomes its children, as it has always done in all its history, and protects, with its sinuous shape and the opposite island similar to a maternal breast. It is a city, which is there, in the middle, between the West and the Balkan Albania, but never a harbinger of half measures, never average, where only in seeing it "blood boils inside" (Memetaj's words). And the protagonist child is a bit like that, there in the middle: it is from there that he observes the two worlds and with words stolen from both, he tells them.
And the boy knows how to do it. The texts are full of truth, a truth without hatred, a truth from children that he carries inside (and that, perhaps, we carry within ourselves), until the attitude to reflection arrives and the truth becomes "political".
Then the judgment begins, then the lines are drawn and the boxes are filled. And the most difficult way is to kill a stereotype with another stereotype. The Venetian and the Valonese, magnificently rendered, through the smallest details of the pronunciation and their clichés of the everyday and of character, in their differences that lead to laughter of taste, but that is not said to be so far apart.
The Venetian worker kills himself with shadows in the tavern, place and way of socializing, but also racist and closed, the other, the Valonese, chess player in bars, smoker and equally grappa drinker. The Venetian, who after each "Albanian of shit", names "an Albanian friend and who made the house for him" or another to whom he taught pizza making. And that's where the Albanian way of life began similveneto, from the beginning with that "son bon to make the pissa" because "there is nothing that a Valonese cannot do well".
But it is above all else that unites them, what paradoxically at the beginning divided them: the path of life, the grasping of hope, the conquering of a future, the love of a father for his son, a graduated father who sacrifices himself and becomes pizzaiolo.
It is not (only) a story of emigration: it is above all a life story. It is the story of the new lives of a new Italy. It is the perspective of those who are in the middle and can see and understand two worlds that tangle to give life to something new and projected into the dimension of the future.
It is perhaps from there (or here) that the new words invented by children of the two worlds will come, which will become the thoughts of adults. It is a past that has passed too quickly without hope remaining pregnant with a present: "You never know, that even in Italy, it happens as from us, that there is no hope for young people, for graduates", and so, the Albanian father says to his son, "learn to make pizza, boy, you never know".
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