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Lunch Luca and my drama "Bloody Peace"

2023-09-17 22:54:00, Kulturë Sadik Bejko
Lunch Luca and my drama "Bloody Peace"
Actor Ndrekë Luca

I have a lot to say about the actor Ndrekë Luca, (1927-1995) "People's Artist". I met him directly in Gjirokastra, in 1987.

Ndreka entered my life very hastily, entered suddenly and suddenly. I think that was his nature. When he needed something, he saw a lot of ambushes or scams, he jumped at that thing and didn't stop to get it.

It was 1987, the 75th anniversary of Independence. I worked as a theater librettist in Gjirokastër. During the summer of that year, based on a story by SS, I wrote a play and put it in the theater for the fall season. The drama echoed the years on the eve of Independence. The events took place in the North of Albania. The management of the theater thought that Ndrekë Luca could be the actor of the main role of this drama. Talks were held to bring Ndreka with service to Gjirokastër. The text of the drama was sent to him. He accepted. The event went, to say the final yes, to the main leaders of the party and the power in the district. It was accepted. Ndreka was an introvert and, as soon as he arrived, he met them and all the main figures of the city's life.

The theater started from work and a burden was lifted from my shoulders. The librettist is like the supplier: I had supplied the 'enterprise' with food, with raw materials. The mill was grinding. Now I could give myself some rest.

Lunch Luca and my drama "Bloody Peace"

But he didn't say it.

One late afternoon, Ndreka knocks on my door. We didn't know each other at all. And since you had come to the theater, I had stayed somewhat away. The surprise was that he was asking for my support as librettist and playwright. He wanted me to support him in what he had in mind to do. He had read the play, there were correctable remarks, but he had not come to me to give me remarks about the text or his role, as the main role of the piece. He had spoken privately with some of the actors and had obtained their approval. The problem was that the theater director did not fill his eye. And he wanted the director of the show to be him, Ndrek Luca. It was overturning the platform of the show, the work done, the division of roles…everything.

I supported him, as far as I was concerned: as an author, I liked that Ndrekë Luca was the director and main actor. It was lucky for any author. For the others, there was work with the theater, with the bosses and the big ones in the district who had approved his arrival at the Gjirokastra theater.

Surprisingly - I did not believe it - Ndreka managed to be the director and the main actor of the drama.

For a few months he took the theater into his hands, he loved me by his side because we liked each other in our conversations and that during the walk and during the work the actors do at the table, there were remarks about the dialogue or about scenes that could be better detailed or shortened.

Lunch Luca and my drama "Bloody Peace"

The staging of the drama was postponed until the first months of 1988. Ndreka was an explosive character and took money like a river with waves. He made the actors with wings. The theater, the staging of a play, requires love, commitment, it is a heavy machine in action. The environment, the climate in the theater was divided. With Ndreka, against Ndreka... Those who were dissatisfied wrote letters secretly. Letters to the Committee, to the Ministry, to.... Ndreka's strong personality from the dukedom broke all the obstacles and the show was realized.

And she was followed for the night by the public.

Ndrekë Luca gave success to the Gjirokastra theater with the staging of the drama "Bloody Peace". In the press of the time, in the newspapers 'Voice of the People', in 'Voice of Youth' this event was viewed positively... by the value of the show, and of course by the name of Ndreke Luca, Artist of the People. The well-known journalist of "Voice of the People", Sedat Braja from Gjirokastër wrote: "Ndrek Luca's long service in Gjirokastër". The poet Ilirian Zhupa wrote in the newspaper "Voice of Youth".

Lunch Luca and my drama "Bloody Peace"

The drama was performed over 20 times in Gjirokastër, then in Tirana, on the stage of the People's Theater.

Foto Çami, secretary of the Party Central Committee, came to the first show at the People's Theater. The Ministry of Culture looked at us a little askance. We didn't care.

Ndreka, like any prominent artist, had fans, loved ones, but also unloved ones, even his opponents.

After the performance on the stage of the People's Theater, Foto Çami himself was waiting for us in the courtyard outside. The laughing Ndreka had held him tightly by the arm. Friend Photo calmly congratulated the actors, said good words about the show. Special mention was made of Fane Bita, who played the main role as Ndreka's understudy. Friend Foto addressed me with the question: why Gjirokastra with a theme from the North? The good topic of the North, he said, is the cessation of blood feud in the elections for the Front in 1945. I will collect material on this topic, I said. Then he said: I heard you are a good teacher. Don't give up on education. He shook hands and we parted. I did not immediately notice the subtext of his words. But sweet pears... have their tails back.

Lunch Luca and my drama "Bloody Peace"

We were up in the sky. We gave a show in Tirana. We were given permission to perform at the 'Migjeni' theater in Shkodër. Ndreka also talked about a tour in many districts of the North. He was happy to walk us. Gjirokastra with a dramatic theme of the North in Shkodër. It was curiosity. We were welcomed by friends, even the political personalities of the Shkodër district. Dukagjinsi Ndreka was like at home there.

But.... suddenly "by order from above" the performances were stopped. The 'matchmaking' of the Gjirokastra theater with Ndreka Luca was ending with a bit of wind and thunder. He was flatly told that the show would be suspended until further notice. There was no more work in Gjirokastra.

As I said, director Ndrek Luca had dubbed his role with actor Fane Bita so that the show could be performed without him.

But the drama got so bad, it was stopped, it didn't appear again. Never.

Lunch Luca and my drama "Bloody Peace"

We returned to Gjirokastra. There, instead of praising us, we were expected to be gathered, lynched, and punished. We 'fixers' were declared unwanted. We had violated ethics. We had supported Ndreka, opposing the theater director, the official appointee. The meetings were a little long, wild in words and continued for several days. There was bitterness, shaking of legs and gnashing of teeth, to frighten you. There was talk of layoffs, being sent to production...Meetings and in the hall of the district Party Committee in the presence of the First Secretary. My knees shook there. I had to self-criticize. A young actor, I. Lluri, gave me lessons on how to control (like the actors in the role) anxious breathing.

What was going on? What had we done? They dined, just as they brought him, but with an order and sent him away. Why should we who sat near him, when we were working on the drama, be responsible? The chiefs could terminate cooperation with Ndreka if they did not accept his conditions. Why didn't they stop it? So, we had broken ethics together with the bosses.

Lunch Luca and my drama "Bloody Peace"

The reasons were different and were never openly stated. An actor after an overwhelming meeting said: "Hey, this drama had nothing to do with Independence." She talked about today's time. "Yes...that was looooja", Ndrekë Luca would have replied.

The drama 'above' was not liked for the messages it conveyed: a 'bloody peace' with murder and starving people, that time did not fit (like!) .

I was tamed by the theater. But then, in 1988, monism was losing its teeth. With the intervention of my friends, after a month I was returned to education. Many theater actors, young in age and profession, received severe remarks, removal from their previous position. I don't want to mention names, neither of those who were punished, nor of those who were thrown down the throats of the guilty.

Flamur Çani, the then mayor of the Gjjiokastër district, in his memoirs (the third volume) wrote the name of a director from Gjirokastër, from a well-known family, who with tears in his eyes had asked me, the librettist of the theater, to imprisoned.

Lunch Luca and my drama "Bloody Peace"

In addition to the state, we artists have poked each other's eyes out.

After about a year and a half, the events in the world were rapidly changing... Then also in Albania... pluralism came.

I was left with an infinite respect for Ndreka... In those few months, we became friends.... We got to know each other as family. He was a special man, a staunch anti-communist. Since then, he spoke "against", but he spoke of people whose lips trembled if you spoke to them, or cursed them as Ndreka foamed and roared against them.... He was secretly reciting Fishta...

Drinking coffee in Tirana in 1992. As opponents of communism, we did not dare to express our dissatisfaction with how things were going now in "Transition". Ndreka, the People's Artist, was crossing the streets on a used bicycle. Energetic as always...

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