"KinematografiaShqiptare". "FilmaShqiptare". "Kinostudio Shqiperia e re". "Albanian Cinematography". Albanian Cinematography & Scene Art: ZINAIDA ANDREJENKO - PANO | THE FIRST FEMALE ALBANIAN DIRECTOR


Wednesday, December 23, 2020


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 Zina Andri – Pano

The first female director of the People's Theater (today the National Theater).

Zina Andri, whose real name was Zinaida Andrejenko, was born into a Ukrainian family on December 24, 1924. After graduating from high school in her hometown, in 1943 she studied at the Lunacharsky Theater Institute in Moscow, in the branch of actor's mastery. In 1948 he met the Albanian student, later actor and director Andon Pano, who had gone to the Soviet Union, like many young Albanians for specialization. This made the blonde girl leave Russia and say "yes" to the love of the Albanian student Andon Pano to get married and live in Albania… She was only 24 years old when they met together in the Soviet Union. 

Photo by Zina`s daughter Vasilika Pano - Kaloshi (Copyright Protected)

 For Zina, the years in Moscow remained inside her forever, not only as the beautiful years of love, but also as the years that increased her feelings for the theater. Arriving in Albania, she started working at the Army Theater. In 1950, Zina Andri - Pano joined the Popular Theater Troupe becoming one of the first female directors, which during her career realized 20 premieres. In 1963, she staged one of Federico Garcia Lorca's most famous plays, a play which continues to inspire theater directors even today, "Bernarda Alba's House". The new director had entrusted the character of Bernarda, Marie Logoreci, in the role of Magdalena was Violeta Manushi, the grandmother was played by Behije Çela, Ponsia by Marika Kallamata, in the role of Martirios was the actress Liza Vorfi. 


 It seems that Spanish drama is favorite to the director who had just turned 30. That same year, she staged another work by Lope De Vega's Spanish playwright, “The Gardener's Dog” (Qeni kopeshtarit), a comedy built on a love line. The critics of the time write about this work: "The creative courage of the director is also seen in the division of roles: The two main characters of the comedy, Diana and Teodori, are played respectively by Besa Zheji and Naim Frashëri, well-known actors of strong dramas". Zina Andri - Pano had the ability to get inside the character of the characters and signify it with the portrait of one of the actors of the Theater, immediately linking the actor and the role. Maybe that made her performances so popular, the fact that the actors were so similar to the characters they played. A year later, she staged the play by French writer Emanuel Roble, "Monserrat", a play which was under the theater framework of socialist realism, considered a powerful anti-imperialist and anti-colonial work. For this drama, it includes good theater actors such as Kadri Roshi, Sander Prosi, Besa Zheji, Besim Lëvonja, Sulejman Pitarka etc. 


Photo by Zina`s daughter Vasilika Pano - Kaloshi (Copyright Protected)

Among her other successful performances can be mentioned "Servant of the two lords (Sherbetori i dy zoterinjve)" and "Votra e huej" by Ndrekë Luca, which is the only Albanian part. Due to the language, although she became a good connoisseur of Albanian, Zina had more ease in bringing foreign dramaturgy to the theater. For more than 20 years, this director, who was affectionately called by everyone as "Russian", would be active in the artistic life of the National Theater, helping to increase her professional growth. Zina managed to adapt to the frameworks of socialist realism in the theater, but also to come out of them in style. Given the pieces she staged, the freedom she gave to the characters, and the directorial concepts, Zina was able to bring a theater worthy of any stage in the world. Being a foreigner has not always been positive for the director. In the press of the time, we also find criticism for the lack of good knowledge of Albanian, or the care that should be given to national dramaturgy. But… despite the criticism and the difficult life she had to lead in socialist Albania, Zina Andri will always be remembered in the history of the Albanian National Theater, not only as the first female director, but also as the artist who set up the first concepts of a free theater… She left the theater in 1975, when she retired and closed her eyes permanently on January 15, 1980. Her portrait is in one of the images of the Albanian mailing stamp. 










Reference: "Gazeta Shqip" - September 2013 (revisited in January and December 2020)

Photos are courtesy of Zina`s daughter Vasilika Pano-Kaloshi © Copyright Protected

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