After serving with heart and soul as the director of the Albanian national theatre and suffering a serious car accident, which almost took his life, Kico Londo (48) embraced a daring initiative – that of founding a breakthrough theatre “of new energy and new values” which he named the Metropolitan.
Why did he call it the Metropolitan? “The first thing that popped into my mind was to replace the word “culture” with “metropolitan” because in an artistic institution, the word “culture” is a backward one, it's a rudiment. Creativity has not much to do with culture. I like the word “metropolitan” instead,” says the director.
The idea behind this theatre took wings one year and a half ago when Londo met the mayor of Tirana, Edi Rama, a painter by trade, who was of the opinion that it was time for the country’s capital to have its own cultural institutions. For many decades, Tirana had been “hidden” artistically behind state institutions such as the national theatre, the national theatre of opera and ballet, national puppet theatre and so on and so forth.
“I aim for this theatre to be a source of new energy and new values. I am very open to new actors and actresses, new directors and new stage directors. This is the mission of the Metropolitan theatre: to give way to the creative spaces for the talented people who know no age. I believe that we have made a good start in this respect,” Londo says, adding that “this is a theatre for youngsters with values, for youngsters who want the theatre and ache for it.”
It took one year to build the theatre’s infrastructure with the support of the municipality of Tirana. The Metropolitan theatre has now a comfortable and elegant 100-seat hall, which was inaugurated last April with the 1904 play of Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, “The Cherry Orchard”, which involved some 13 young actors and actresses.
“We want to create new paths to theatre experimentation through the youngsters by keeping traditionalism at bay. Understand me, we do have a good tradition in theatre genre and we don’t intend to deny it. What we aim for is to open up new venues for theatre,” he said.
The Metropolitan Theatre is going to be only one component of the Metropolitan Centre, which will involve “metropolitan puppet theatre, metropolitan circus, metropolitan people’s ensemble and the metropolitan string orchestra.” The first circus show was staged on 19 September, the first puppet theatre show will kick off on 3 October, and the first theatre premiere for the autumn season is scheduled for November 6, to be followed by a second one on 9 January, 2010.
“No matter what, this Centre will become important from the artistic and cultural point of view in the year 2010. We aim high,” says Londo.
At the same time, work has begun on the construction of two new halls within the premises of the Metropolitan Theatre – the globe hall and the basement hall will be ready for the public by the end of November. “No theatre in Albania has three halls which will function simultaneously under a new concept, a modern style and a new artistically structural organisation,” says the proud director.
So far, the Metropolitan Theatre stage has welcomed a number of bilingual performances – either French and Albanian or Italian and Albanian. One of the successes of the institution was the staging of a conspicuous play by the Bosnian writer and poet, Abdulah Sidran - “To Zvornik I Left My Heart” - with the interpretation of an Albanian and Italian cast. Special plays are about to be staged in the theatre in the future.
“I'd like to do something special in the theatre genre. Of course, it is not easy. What I am doing is something daring and risky. But I think that doing nothing and crying is equally risky,” says Londo reconfirming his motto according to which “Great Art Deals with the Hard-to-Change Things.”