Circus artists stranded in Albania bring lockdown relief to Tirana’s streets

By Mimoza Dhima

Tirana, May 15 (efe-epa).- Three circus artists who became stranded in Tirana when Albanian authorities imposed the lockdown, have been trying to lighten the mood and bring some relief to Covid-19 restrictions with street performances including juggling, diabolos, unicycles and music.

This special street circus performance is one of the few shows that has not been suspended during the strict shutdown in Albania, which ordered a curfew and closed its borders shortly after reporting the first death of coronavirus on 9 March.

Confined locals watch the artists with admiration, surprise and smiles on their faces at the city’s central Skenderbej square or any pedestrian crossing, which serve as improvised stages while passing motorists or pedestrians wait at traffic lights.

Argentinians artists Nicolás Bacci, Nicolás Moron and Pablo Colomba arrived in Albania from Italy one day before the government declared the border closure in a bid to curb the virus.

Although the three friends acknowledge that the artist’s life is difficult, especially amid the lockdowns on cultural life, they are satisfied they chose this career. They did it “not out of necessity but out of choice” since it allows them to travel the world and entertain people.

“We chose street art so that everyone can enjoy it and, at the same time, we can travel the world,” says Colombra, who believes that street performance, a universal language, brings people together.

In addition to brightening up the streets of Tirana in times of lockdown, their show has become a sensation among Albanians as asking for money after a street performance is not common in the country.

Generally, in Albania, asking for money is understood as begging.

“Albanians, we are poor. We are all unemployed. We do not have enough money to feed our children,” Afrim Peposhi, an out-of-work father of two tells Efe.

On the contrary, these street artists consider Albanians to be “kind and generous” people who help them. The three artists confess that “friendly policemen” have turned a blind eye and allowed them to work on the streets during the curfew hours.

The money they have earned thanks to performing in the streets has already been sent to some friends in Spain, who are worse off and are forced to live on the aid provided by the state.

“We have friends in Spain where life is more difficult now and from here, from Tirana, we have been sending money so that the boys can have something to eat because quarantine has been quite different, more difficult there,” Bacci says.

“Thanks to Albania, we and others have survived.”

Moroni also acknowledges he is fortunate to have spent this time in Albania, which has reported a low number of deaths (31) and infections (898 cases, 173 still active) with a population of 2.8 million.

When they arrived in the country they were mistaken for Italians and many people avoided being near them or and covered their faces and mouths for fear.

Today, many Tiranese have heard of them and help them, such as a hotelier who offers them discounts so that they can live on 10 euros a day, food included.

The performers’ main concern is that the border closure will not allow them to keep on with their trip as well as the lack of Argentine diplomatic representation in Albania, which will make it difficult for them to extend their visa, which expires on 8 June. EFE-EPA


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