The Demolition of The Eiffel Tower by Jeton Neziraj

The play

- Play has got 10 characters that can be played by only 4 actors. (There are 23 scenes.)
- Play had its first production on 30th of September 2011 in Sarajevo, produced by International Theater Festival MESS. There was also a stage reading of it for 9/11 at Gerald W Lynch Theater in New York. Also, extracts of it have been presented at Théâtre Éphéméride and Maison d'Europe et d'Orient (MEO) in France in 2011.
- Play will be published in Albanian and English by Qendra Multimedia in Spring 2012.
- So far, play has been translated in English, German, Srbian/Bosnian/Croatioan and French language.

The tragicomedy, The Demolition of The Eiffel Tower, addresses one of the modern world’s most significant problems – terrorism arising as a consequence of global political and religious conflicts. In this play Neziraj confronts cultural divisions, misunderstandings, religious fanaticism, violence, and issues regarding of democracy and individual freedom in Europe. Above all, the play highlights misunderstandings and prejudices created as a consequence of the burqa conflict in Europe.  In a contemporary urban landscape, we follow the weird story of a European, who is kidnapped by two Islamic terrorists because he insists on removing burqas from the heads of Muslim women in Paris.
The Demolition of The Eiffel Tower is an alternative to mainstream media’s fixation on the burqa; the play opens discourse on the most substantive issue – to know and understand the drama of the other.

 

Jeton Neziraj

Jeton Neziraj (1977), former Artistic Director of the National Theatre of Kosovo, is a playwright from Kosovo. As a playwright, he has written over 15 plays which have been staged and performed in Europe and in the USA, as well they have been translated and published in other languages, such as: German, English, French, Macedonian, Slovenian, Croat, Romanian, Bosnian, Spanish, Turkish, Bulgarian, Serbian etc. Neziraj is the founder, and the director of Qendra Multimedia, a cultural production company based in Prishtina. As a playwright, he has worked with theatres and companies such as: Volkstheater (Vienna, Austria), the National Theatre of Kosovo (Prishtina, Kosovo), the National Theatre of Macedonia (Bitola, Macedonia), International Theatre Festival MESS (Sarajevo, Bosnia), Bitef Theater (Belgrade, Serbia), the Albanian National Theatre (Skopje, Macedonia), Markus Zohner Theater Company (Lugano, Swiss), L'Espace d'un instant (Paris, France), Geral W. Lynch Theater (New York, USA), Theater Nomad (London, UK),  etc.  Neziraj’s plays have been performed in several theatre festivals in Europe.


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Extract

TWO MUSLIM TERRORISTS IN PARIS

[A small apartment. Habib and Garip enter with a little handbag.]

HABIB
Everything is ready. Praise be to Allah, it’s all going just the way we planned.

GARIP
Insha’Allah! How safe is this place?

HABIB
We took care of all the details, but we’ve still got to be cautious. You’ve got to be careful in France even if you’re French, but if you’re a Muslim, you have to be on your guard ten-times over.

GARIP
Do I need to know anything aside from the report you brought us?

HABIB
I don’t think so… but since we submitted the report, there have been three other incidents.

GARIP
Really?

HABIB
Yeah.

GARIP
It’s all still a mystery, isn’t it?

HABIB
It sure is. They come out mostly at night, or at dusk.

GARIP
But why are these Muslim women going out at dusk? I can’t figure it out.

HABIB
No one would have thought they’d go that far. Our women were used to being mocked and humiliated, but no one would have predicted that things would get so out of hand. When our women are seen veiled, they know they’re gonna be laughed at – cursed and humiliated. They know people are gonna point at them and call them “blackbirds” or “ghost in black sheets.” Some people are gonna raise their arms in panic, pretending they’re afraid of them. That sort of stuff. But, that things would go that far, that they would begin ripping their veils off, no one would’ve believed it.

GARIP
In the report, you wrote that it was always the same person. What did you mean?

HABIB
The women we interviewed all gave us the same description.

GARIP
And from the descriptions, did you get a better idea of what he looked like?

HABIB
No, nothing beyond what’s stated in the report. We’re pretty sure about his approximate height and hair colour, but we don’t have any other details.

[Garip draws the window curtains back and looks out.]

GARIP
It looks like that tower isn’t straight.

HABIB
Yeah, it slants a bit.

GARIP
Interesting!

HABIB
What’s interesting?

GARIP
I mean the slanting tower. In our country, everyone thinks that things are built to perfection here.

HABIB
There’s nothing perfect about this country at all.

GARIP
Of course not. For sure, the infidels don’t have a patent on perfection. After all, nothing is perfect in this universe, except Allah!

HABIB
No wait, I was wrong. Actually, the Eiffel Tower is straight. It’s the one in Italy, in Pisa, that’s slanted. 

[Garip opens the handbag and takes some clothes out of it. He folds them and puts them into a drawer.]

GARIP
And that boulevard over there? The wide one?

HABIB
That’s the Champs Elysées.

GARIP
So, why is it so famous?

HABIB
There’s no reason at all. Believe me. When I got here to Paris a few years ago, I went to have a look at it and couldn’t believe my eyes. There was nothing special about it. It’s lined by a few crooked trees and there are cafes here and there, and a big arch at one end. But there are arches like that everywhere in Europe. All that material! What a waste of money. They could have built apartments for all the homeless people that nobody takes care of. But, my brother, life for them means their morning coffee and croissants and then taking long, long lunches. You wouldn’t believe what a torture it is to have lunch with a Frenchman. It goes on forever. They stuff themselves, worse than cattle at the trough, and spend their afternoons ruminating. Then, at night, they go out to those sleazy clubs – those bars and discos. God knows what they’re up to. And there’s nothing uplifting about the plays in their theatres. Nothing but swearing, giggling, violence, chaos, and blind hatred. That’s all.

GARIP
Do our people go out to these places, too?

HABIB
It’s too bad, but they do. But not everyone knows about it. Right now, there’s a show on at a theatre about a Muslim woman who takes her veil off and undresses right on stage.

GARIP
Did you see it?

HABIB
Allah forbid!

GARIP
I’d go.

HABIB
What?

GARIP
I’d like to see it. I’d like to know how they present these things on stage and in their films. After all, you have to know the enemy to defeat him.

HABIB
Alright. I’ll try to arrange for tickets.

[Garip lies down on the bed.]

HABIB
Did you have any problem with the visa?

GARIP
Everything went smoothly. Last time I went to that embassy, I swore by Allah that I’d blow the place up if they rejected me because of any document.

HABIB
They do it on purpose. You know. They demand more and more documents so that people will get exhausted and give up applying for visas. One thing is clear – they don’t like us and they don’t want us here.

GARIP
And all the things they required! An official invitation, two photos on a white background, an application form, insurance, birth certificate, marriage certificate, family certificate, a certificate that I am still alive, a job contract, bank account balances for the last six months, a confirmation from my employer, etc., etc. And then you’ve got to stand around in long line-ups.

HABIB
These Europeans. They rant on and on about ‘human rights,’ ‘democracy,’ and ‘religious freedom’, etc., etc., but they don’t respect these things where Muslims are concerned.. They’d prefer to live with extraterrestrials than with us. And all the time, they proclaim their affection for ‘moderate Muslims.’

GARIP
And who are these ‘moderates’ supposed to be, anyway?

HABIB
They’re so-called Muslims who act like sheep. They have no interest in Islam. They couldn’t care less whether France bans the veil in public places, whether Switzerland forbids the building of mosques, and whether girls are allowed to wear the veil in German schools. They aren’t interested in anything to do with Islam. They eat pork, don’t pray, don’t fast, and they go out to bars and degenerate theatres. Those are the so-called ‘moderate’ Muslims that France and Europe claim to love.

GARIP
Who was it who said: “France should be wiped off the face of the earth!”?

HABIB
It was the head of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. But he said it about Israel. “Israel should be wiped off the map.”

GARIP
Is that right? I thought it was about France.

HABIB
Maybe there was something about France, too.

GARIB
How did the French Government react to the protests you organized against these provocations?

HABIB
They issued a press communiqué saying they denounced such “base acts,” but that we Muslims should not be offended by what they called “isolated incidents” because this, in their view, would only raise tension in France which is a “peace-loving country of religious tolerance.”

GARIP
That’s politics for you. They do things underhandedly and then come out and denounce them publicly. This guy is an agent of the French Government. I’m sure of it.

HABIB
I think so, too. They’re paving the way in French politics for further steps against veils and more oppression of Muslims. First of all, they discredit us and then they announce: “Dear Muslims of France, as you can see, we cannot protect your women if they are veiled, so it is better to ban the veil in public places because French people will otherwise be upset.”

GARIP
Nicely put.

[Habib opens up a map of Paris and begins to read it.]