CRE-ACTORS

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Training Intercultural Theatre-Makers for a Diverse Europe


This publication is distributed free of charge and follows the Creative Commons agreement Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives (CC BY-NC-ND). You are free to reuse and share the text of this publication or parts of it as long as you mention the original source. Rights on the use of photographs are reserved. This publication should be mentioned as follows: J.Meth, M.Walling (eds), CRE-ACTORS - TRAINING INTERCULTURAL THEATRE-MAKERS FOR A DIVERSE EUROPE. For further information please contact michael@bordercrossings.ie The publishers have made every e ort to secure permission to reproduce pictures protected by copyright. Any omission brought to their attention will be solved in future editions of this publication.

ISBN-10: 1-904718-12-4 ISBN-13: 978-1-904718-12-3 EAN: 9781904718123

Published by Border Crossings 2022

Cover image: L’ILE D’OR - Théâtre du Soleil 2021. (Photo © Michèle Laurent)

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Training Intercultural Theatre-Makers for a Diverse Europe Co-ordinating Organisation BORDER CROSSINGS (Ireland) bordercrossings.ie Partner Organisations

TEATRO DELL’ARGINE (Italy) teatrodellargine.org THÉÂTRE DU SOLEIL (France) theatre-du-soleil.fr THE FENCE (Sweden) the-fence.net

Associated Partners: Blue Raincoat Theatre Company, Ireland; Cantieri Meticci APS, Italy; Kabosh Theatre Company, Northern Ireland; Tallaght Community Arts, Ireland; Riksteatern, Sweden.

E-book edited by Jonathan Meth (The Fence) and Michael Walling (Border Crossings) © All copyright remains with the authors. This project is funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union. However, European Commission and Irish National Agency cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which re ects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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CONTENTS Summary in four project languages

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Introduction - Sligo Introduction by Michael Walling (Border Crossings) How to use this e-book 1.

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Paris ABC - The Théâtre du Soleil Introduction to the Théâtre du Soleil Intercultural Devising Practices: The Paris Training - Dominique Jambert & Vincent Mangado (Théâtre du Soleil) A Re ection from The Fence - Jonathan Meth (The Fence) “A Place of Exile and Welcome” - L’Île d’Or / Kanemu-jima Rosalind Fielding (Border Crossings) Lepage au Soleil - an online discussion

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Bologna ABC - Teatro dell’Argine Introduction to the Teatro dell’Argine Intercultural Devising Practices: The Bologna Training - Nicola Bonazzi, Micaela Casalboni, & Andrea Paolucci (Teatro dell’Argine) A Re ection from The Fence - Jonathan Meth Teatro dell’ Argine and The Legacy of Babel - Edward Bromberg (The Fence) Cantieri Meticci - Theatre in a Supermarket

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3. Dublin ABC - Border Crossings Introduction to Border Crossings Intercultural Devising Practices: The Dublin Training - Lucy Dunkerley & Michael Walling (Border Crossings) A Re ection from The Fence - Jonathan Meth The Great Experiment - Jonathan Meth Kabosh Theatre Company - Intercultural Theatre in the Aftermath of Con ict

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4. Stockholm ABC - The Fence Introduction to The Fence A Re ection on the CRE-ACTORS project - Jonathan Meth

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Afterword - Paris “Voices of the Sky” - a conversation between Ariane Mnouchkine & Michael Walling

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The Cre-Actors Details of participants

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Map of the CRE-ACTORS project 6


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Summary - English The CRE-ACTORS project recognises that the increasingly diverse and intercultural nature of European societies necessitates the development of new approaches to cultural production and to education. These approaches will enable our work to be genuinely inclusive, intercultural and dialogic, as people from di erent backgrounds learn with and from each other, towards a common good. Theatre is a hugely important starting place for this crucial work: a space of experiment, where societies can think about themselves publicly. It o ers a laboratory for approaches to living, education and social interaction that can be adapted and applied more widely to European societies in the future. This e-book documents our two-year process of Practice Exchange, that has enriched the work of all partners, and the sector more widely. The rst training week took place on the Théâtre du Soleil’s Cartoucherie stage in Paris in July 2021. The training concentrated on theatrical form as a catalyst for collective creation by a range of diverse theatre makers. Taking into account this intercultural dimension, music, theatre space, costume and props were all key stimuli in exploring and demonstrating how the Théâtre du Soleil approaches a collective creation. The second training week was held in Bologna in May 2022. Teatro dell’Argine led us through methodologies designed to engage and stimulate people from diverse communities. This week focused on particular ways in which the company develops theatrically potent work that gives value to people’s own experiences - creatively and safely - while at the same time building community. The third training week, led by Border Crossings, took place in Dublin in July 2022. Here the emphasis was on working across diversity and di erence, particularly linguistic di erence, in order to generate dramatic and stimulating theatre that can provide a catalyst for debate and action. The Fence is the dramaturgical partner, focusing on interrogation, documentation and evaluation.

Sommaire - Français Notre projet CRE-ACTORS part du principe que la nature de plus en plus diverse et interculturelle des sociétés européennes nécessite le développement de nouvelles approches dans la production et l'éducation culturelles. Ces approches permettent à notre travail d'être au sens propre ouvert, interculturel et en dialogue, car des personnes d'horizons di érents y apprennent les unes des autres pour un béné ce commun. Le théâtre est un point de départ crucial pour cela car il est un espace d'expérimentation où les sociétés peuvent se penser publiquement. Il o re un champ d’expérimentation à di érentes façons de vivre, di érentes éducations, di érentes interactions sociales; lesquelles pourront être adaptées et appliquées plus largement aux sociétés européennes à l'avenir. Ce livre électronique rend compte de notre processus de deux ans d'échange de pratiques, qui a enrichi le travail de tous les partenaires et élargi notre champ d’action en général. La première semaine de travail a eu lieu sur la scène du Théâtre du Soleil à Paris en juillet 2021. La formation s'est concentrée sur la forme théâtrale en tant que catalyseur d’une création collective e ectuée par des acteurs d’origine diverse. En tenant compte de cette dimension interculturelle, la musique, l'espace, les costumes et les accessoires ont tous été des outils clé pour chercher et découvrir comment le Théâtre du Soleil aborde une création collective. La deuxième semaine de travail a eu lieu à Bologne en mai 2022. Le Teatro dell'Argine nous a guidés à travers des méthodes conçues pour impliquer et susciter l’intérêt de personnes issues de diverses communautés. Cette semaine a été concentrée sur les façons particulières dont la compagnie développe des œuvres théâtrales qui mettent en valeur les expériences personnelles des participants - de manière créative et respectueuse - , tout en participant à la construction du vivre-ensemble. La troisième semaine de travail, dirigée par Border Crossings, a eu lieu à Dublin en juillet 2022. Ici, l'accent a été mis sur ce qu’implique de travailler avec la diversité et la di érence, en particulier la di érence linguistique, pour générer un théâtre stimulant, qui puisse servir de catalyseur au débat et à l'action. The Fence est le partenaire dramaturgique, qui se concentre sur le questionnement, le rapport et l'évaluation du projet.

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Sommario - Italiano Il progetto CRE-ACTORS riconosce che la natura delle società europee, sempre più diversi cata e interculturale, necessita di nuovi approcci alla produzione culturale e all’educazione. Approcci che possano rendere il nostro lavoro genuinamente inclusivo, interculturale e dialogico, poiché persone provenienti da background di erenti imparino le une con e dalle altre, avendo per obiettivo un bene comune. Il teatro è un punto di partenza importantissimo per questo lavoro cruciale: uno spazio di sperimentazione, nel quale le società possono ripensarsi pubblicamente. Esso può o rire un laboratorio per l’esplorazione e la creazione di approcci diversi cati al vivere civile, all’educazione e all’interazione sociale, approcci che possono essere adattati e applicati in misura anche più allargata alle società europee in futuro. Questo e-book documenta il nostro processo biennale di scambio di pratiche, che ha arricchito il lavoro di tutti i partner, e del settore in senso lato. La prima settimana di training si è svolta sul palco del Théâtre du Soleil, alla Cartoucherie a Parigi, nel luglio 2021. Il training si è concentrato sulla forma teatrale come catalizzatrice per la creazione collettiva di artisti e artiste di teatro dalle diverse origini. A partire da questa dimensione interculturale, la musica, lo spazio teatrale, i costumi e gli oggetti sono stati stimoli chiave per esplorare e mostrare l’approccio del Théâtre du Soleil alla creazione collettiva. La seconda settimana di training si è tenuta a Bologna nel maggio 2022. Il Teatro dell’Argine ci ha condotti attraverso metodologie disegnate per ingaggiare e stimolare persone provenienti da comunità diverse. Questa settimana si è concentrata su alcuni dei processi attraverso i quali la compagnia realizza un lavoro teatralmente potente, mettendo a valore le esperienze individuali, in modo creativo e sicuro, mentre al contempo costruisce comunità. La terza settimana di training, tenuta da Border Crossings, si è svolta a Dublino nel luglio 2022. Qui l’enfasi si è spostata sul lavorare attraverso diversità e di erenza, con particolare riguardo alla di erenza linguistica, allo scopo di generare un teatro stimolante e spettacolare che diventi catalizzatore per il dibattito e l’azione. The Fence è il partner drammaturgico, che si è concentrato sull’interrogare, documentare e valutare.

Sammanfattning - Svenska Projektet CRE-ACTORS ser hur den alltmer mångfaldiga, interkulturella kompositionen i europeiska samhällen har krävt utvecklingen av ett nytt förhållningssätt till utbildning och till producerandet av scenkonst. Ett nytt förhållningssätt behövs, ett som gör vårt arbete inkluderande på riktigt, interkulturellt och dialogistiskt, när personer från olika bakgrund, mot ett allmännyttigt mål, anammar kunskap med varandra och från varandra. Teatern har en enorm betydelse som utgångspunkt för detta viktiga arbete, en plats för experiment där samhällen tillåts undersöka sig själva o entligt. Teatern erbjuder ett laboratorium där olika sätt att leva, lära, och interagera socialt, kan informera ett bredare europeiskt samhälle i framtiden. Denna e-bok dokumenterar vår två-års process i Praktiskt Utbyte, en process som har berikat arbetet hos samtliga deltagare och i förlängningen, berikat vår bransch. Den första träningsveckan ägde rum på Théâtre du Soleils Cartoucherie scen in Paris i juli, 2021. Träningen fokuserade på hur den teatraliska formen agerar katalysator i det kollektiva skapandet hos en mängd teaterskapare. Medlemmar ur Théâtre du Soleil visade prov på sin metod av kollektivt skapande där tillvaratagandet av de interkulturella dimensioner i musik, scen, kostym och rekvisita stimulerade kreativa undersökningar. Den andra träningsvecka ägde rum i Bologna, maj 2022. Teatro dell’Argine blev vägvisare genom metodologier utvecklade med syfte att engagera och stimulera folk från olika samhällsgrupper. Veckan fokuserade på gruppens speciella sätt att utveckla intrikata och potenta sceniska arbeten genom att, på ett kreativt och säkert sätt, värdesätta varje individs egna erfarenheter och samtidigt sträva mot att bygga en större gemenskap. Den tredje veckan under ledning av Border Crossings, ägde rum i Dublin i juli 2022. Här blev huvudfokus att arbeta över olikheter, i synnerhet lingvistiska olikheter, med syfte att generera en dramatisk och stimulerande teaterkonst som kan bli en katalysator för meningsutbyte och handling. The Fence är projektets dramaturgiska partner med fokus på ifrågasättande, dokumentation och utvärdering.

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“Nothing is more vital to the theatre culture of the world than the working together of artists from di erent races and backgrounds.” (Peter Brook) “We only know who we are in exchange with others.” (Hannah Arendt)

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INTRODUCTION - SLIGO • Introduction by Michael Walling • How to use this e-book

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Nisha Dassyne & David Furlong in THE GREAT EXPERIMENT (Border Crossings) Photo: John Cobb

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INTRODUCTION by Michael Walling (Border Crossings) It’s 6th September 2022, and we’re in Stockholm for a CRE-ACTORS project meeting. After a day’s work at the Riksteatern, we go for dinner in an Indian restaurant. That in itself used to be considered an inspiring intercultural experience: in today’s Europe it has become so commonplace that an “authentic” Swedish meal would probably seem more “exotic”. On the restaurant wall, silkscreen printed like a mass-produced Warhol celebrity, is the face of the Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore. He wasn’t personally present in this city in 1913 to receive his Nobel Prize, but he was feted when he did come in 1921 and 1926. I tell Edward “Bu alo” Bromberg, our wonderfully attentive host from The Fence, that Nisha, my wife, studied at the University founded by Tagore, Visva-Bharati in Santiniketan. Five years of ne art, taught under the trees of West Bengal. “Wow” he replies - in the measured American drawl that hints at his hippy past with The Living Theatre during the 1970s - “One of my best friends lives in Santiniketan. Rani and Dritëro have friends there too.” Rani Kasapi, who is Swedish with Iranian heritage, works in cultural policy1: I’ve known her since our days in the Platform for Intercultural Europe. Her husband Dritëro I met for the rst time today: he’s Artistic Director of the Riksteatern. “Oh yes” says Rani, “we love Santiniketan”. It’s another one of the many moments of global synchronicity that have characterised the CRE-ACTORS journey.

Tagore in Stockholm

Tagore looks down from the wall: poet, playwright, painter, philosopher, politician, prizewinner and poster-boy. 75 years after India’s independence, he stands here as witness to new waves of global migration, to the paranoid strengthening of arti cial borders, to the revival of imperial pasts in globalised systems of exploitation, to the interpenetration of economies, languages and cultures. “When on this Earth I cast my eyes, great multitudes I see there moving with tumult, along diverse paths in many a group, from age to age, urged by mankind’s daily need in life, and in death….. Sorrows and joys unceasing blend in chant raising the mighty hymn of life. On the ruins of hundreds of empires, they go on working.”2 1

At the time of this meeting in Stockholm, Rani had just been appointed Project Director for the 9th World Summit on Arts and Culture. Rabindranath Tagore: Poems. No. 121. Kolkota 1942.

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Tagore in Sligo

In Sligo, the town in the West of Ireland where Border Crossings has its base, there is a bust of Tagore, close to the railway station, set on a limestone plinth directly opposite the former Pollexfen building on Wine Street. Pollexfen House was the home of William Butler Yeats’s maternal grandparents, and the bust was a gift from the Indian Embassy in 2015, to commemorate the friendship between Tagore and Sligo’s own great poet-playwright. When they met in 1912, Yeats had already founded the Abbey Theatre, and soon introduced Tagore’s play THE POST OFFICE into its repertoire. This is an early and striking example of intercultural theatre practice, based on a clear sense of common purpose between two artists from ostensibly very di erent backgrounds. Both Ireland and India were asserting national identities in the face of British colonisation: Tagore told Yeats that his ambition was to restore “India’s faith in herself” after “insults at the hands of the West”3. This sense of decolonisation through spiritual and cultural regeneration was very close to Yeats’s own position: like Tagore, he was wary of more confrontational forms of nationalism, that potentially endangered cosmopolitan exchange. The Sligo monument testi es to an interculturalism of high art, to exchanges in the salons of London, the imperial centre itself, rather than in the streets and elds of a resistant Western Ireland or West Bengal.

Yeats went on to experiment with Asian theatre forms and performers in his search for a revitalised Irish theatre that could at once assert a national identity and adopt an international perspective. Several of his plays use the Japanese Noh as a model. The most successful is probably THE DREAMING OF THE BONES (1919), which follows the Mugen Noh (夢幻能) convention of invoking ghosts and adopting shifting or simultaneous timeframes, bringing together a young revolutionary from the 1916 Dublin Rising against British rule with the spirits of Diarmaid and Dervogilla, who had invited the English into Ireland in the 12th century. “Yes, yes, I spoke Of that most miserable, most accursed pair Who sold their country into slavery; and yet They were not wholly miserable and accursed If somebody of their race at last would say, ‘I have forgiven them’.”4 Yeats’s dialogue with Asian theatre forms and artists could be (and has been) read as a manifestation of what Daphne P. Lei has called “hegemonic intercultural theatre”, a “speci c artistic genre and state of mind that combines First World capital and brainpower with Third World raw materials and labor”5. But that would be reductive: it’s all too easy to equate “First 3

R.F.Foster: W.B.Yeats - A Life. 1. The Apprentice Mage. Oxford 1998. p.470

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W.B. Yeats: Collected Plays. Macmillan 1982 p.442

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Daphne P. Lei: Interruption, Intervention, Interculturalism: Robert Wilson’s HIT Productions in Taiwan. Theatre Journal 6.34, 2011. pp.571-586.

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World” with “white” and “Third World” with “non-white”. Yeats engaged with a world beyond the Anglo-Saxon precisely because Ireland was itself attempting to emerge from a prolonged history of colonial oppression, and needed to articulate that history in ways that could regenerate the political and cultural space and encourage healing. Nor were the cultures with which he chose to work necessarily “Third World” in the commonly understood sense of postcolonial spaces that continue to be economically oppressed: Japan was itself an imperial power. If we are to make an accusation against Yeats, it is surely not that he exploited nonWestern societies so much as he romanticised them, in an attempt to o er Ireland a postcolonial mythology of nationhood. He has, I think rightly, been critiqued for o ering something disturbingly akin to a blood cult, as well as extolling a “primitive” culture pre-dating colonisation and Christianity, in a way that comes uncomfortably close to endorsing economic deprivation and injustice. But, as Denis Donoghue puts it in his Afterword to a collection of pamphlets issued by the Field Day Company6: “While an argument can be refuted, and a thesis undermined, a vision can only be answered by another one. I don’t think any historian’s evidence would make a di erence to Yeats’s vision, or dislodge it from our minds. Only another vision, as complete as Yeats’s, could take its place. Where could one look for such a thing?”7 That was in 1985. Replying to Donoghue from a moment almost a quarter of a century on from the Good Friday agreement - after the Irish referenda on divorce, abortion and same-sex marriage, after Brexit, after the arrival of Syrian, African and Ukrainian refugees and migrants in Ireland and across Europe - my sense is that the vision now needed is not to be found in the “genius meets guru” variety of cross-cultural exchange initiated by Yeats and Tagore, but in the new interculturalism that is emerging from the pluralistic nature of contemporary social and political space. To conceive of a theatre that is multiform and various, a shared space that yields innovation through the clash of distinct viewpoints and approaches, rooted in ongoing dialogues between artists from di erent backgrounds, and informed by potent overlaps between friendship and disagreement: this is to propose not only a theatrical and artistic but also a cultural and democratic vision. It is about space that is profoundly shared, whether that be the stage, the auditorium, the street or the parliament house. It is about equity and justice. The framework of a transnational European project is an ideal structure within which to explore the potential for such an intercultural theatre, in which many di erent, and perhaps competing voices are present. Because the European Union is itself an evolving intercultural project, it is suggestive of both the potential and the challenges that result from genuinely collaborative and collective structures, in which “vision” is not the sole responsibility of any one leader, but emerges from dialogue and consensus. In recent years, and certainly since the perceived “refugee crisis” of 2015-16, the idea of Europe as a shared space of equal collaborators has been increasingly under threat. Border controls have tightened drastically, and many countries have failed to welcome people who are migrating; whether because of war, persecution, climate, poverty or aspiration. One former member state has abandoned the European ideal completely, retreating into a bizarre amalgam of neo-imperial exceptionalism and hysterical self-pity. Others have seen the rise of a powerfully nationalist populism, in some cases to the level of government, which tends to scapegoat cultural minorities as a perceived threat to “national identity”. Even in countries that are more open to newcomers, the dominant discourse remains one of migration and cultural diversity as problems to be solved rather than opportunities to be embraced; with “integration”, even “assimilation”, being privileged, and the potential for learning from intercultural exchange being arrogantly dismissed. These developments, while made manifest in political terms, are fundamentally cultural in their roots, and so it is in the cultural and educational sectors that 6

Field Day was a very important theatre company, based in Derry, that toured politically aware theatre through the North and South of Ireland, as well as producing discursive materials. 7

Seamus Deane et al: Ireland’s Field Day. Hutchinson, 1985. p.120.

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Alice Milléquant & Reza Rajabi in KANATA (Théâtre du Soleil) Photo: Michèle Laurent

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the essential work of countering them has to be undertaken. We will not develop a Europe that is open, egalitarian, diverse and pluralistic unless we have populations who understand and embrace these values. In order to do this, we have to develop cultural forms that demonstrate, not only in the work they present publicly but also in the process of its making and the structures of its management, the viability and desirability of the intercultural. We need the intense beauty, the magni cent newness, that arises when opposites attract and meld. We need creative processes that make manifest their own democracy, and which are open to dialogue with the multifarious communities they serve. We need cultural institutions that are not conventional hierarchies, but which exist to facilitate frank exchange and disagreement as an impetus to creativity and positive change. This is what Border Crossings meant in THE SLIGO MANIFESTO when we said that our work “is not an attempt to represent the world, but to change it”8. As the late Jean-Luc Godard put it: “Realism does not mean that something real will be presented. Realism means that the process of representation will itself become real.”9 The CRE-ACTORS project is at once an exploration of possible approaches to this evolving vision, and a demonstration of it in action. It can be both at once, because its cultural vision is not based on product so much as process. Theatre, like democracy, is not a speci c commodity, an object, a thing. You cannot pick up a performance, as you can a painting or a novel or a lm, decide that it is property and pro t by giving it monetary value. Theatre is a lived experience. It is not an object but an event. It does not exist, it happens. It shares this crucial characteristic with education (which is not the same thing as a quali cation) and with true democracy (which is not the same thing as power). In CRE-ACTORS, we opened ourselves up to learn from our peers about how they approach the collective creation of intercultural performance, with each of the three theatre companies involved leading a training week on their own methodologies. We also opened ourselves to scrutiny, critique and dissent, as our dramaturgical partner The Fence facilitated processes of open evaluation and contextualisation. This e-book draws together some of what emerged from the two-year process, and o ers it up for further debate, for use in other contexts, and so for change and development. As a partnership, we are also anxious to develop this collaboration further: it seems to o er us a genuine path forward at a time of deep uncertainty. * In the pages that follow, you will see accounts of the di erent approaches to intercultural devising o ered by artists from the Théâtre du Soleil, Teatro dell’Argine and Border Crossings, together with the responses of participants to methodologies and working practices that were often very di erent from their own. You will also see discussions by some partners of performances made by other partners, which we o er as a taste of how the ways in which we make theatre may lead to particular kinds of result. You will see further materials that place our work in a wider context, either in relation to associated partners who shared something of their work with us, or discussions of intercultural issues that have arisen from responses to theatre projects. One of the most signi cant of these debates was our online discussion about the controversy that surrounded the Théâtre du Soleil’s play KANATA, which opened at the Cartoucherie in December 2018. This piece, which was not directed by Ariane Mnouchkine but the visiting Québécois artist Robert Lepage, dealt with the history of Canadian First Nations, and was widely criticised for not including Indigenous performers or consulting with First Nations 8

See p. 106

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Cited in Milo Rau: Theatre is Democracy in Small. Berchem, EPO 2022. p.11

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communities in Québec. During our conversation, an audience member said: “Basically the problem is that white, middle-aged men in the arts take it upon themselves to tell stories on behalf of other people.” I was reminded of this a year later, during our training week in Dublin, when, in a rare moment of tension, a local participant who was joining us for two days questioned my role as one10 of the leaders of the workshop, suggesting that it was not appropriate for work around cross-cultural dialogue to be facilitated by “someone who looks and sounds like you.” I wasn’t able to nd out any more about what they meant by this, as they refused to discuss it with me. It was fairly clear, though, that we were in the territory of identity politics, and that what was being questioned was the power relationship in the room. Inequalities between facilitators and facilitated are to some degree inevitable and even necessary in any artistic or educational project, but these can all too easily come to re ect the very hierarchies of race, culture and gender that intercultural theatre aims to question and subvert. I have some sympathy with the positions expressed by these two people. After all, when you live in a world de ned by global exploitation, it’s very tempting to read every action as an expression of that paradigm. Solidarity can all too easily elide into interference and facilitation into control. But to make the assumption that this is always what is happening when white males aged over 40 attempt to engage interculturally or to make theatre is essentialising and reductive: a failure of imagination. I do wonder whether the frequency with which this assumption is made might be partly the responsibility of those of us who teach critical approaches to understanding culture. Because so much theoretical debate has been about de-constructing artistic work and exposing ethically dubious underlying assumptions, because so much is taught in terms of being postsomething, we have come to see ourselves as positioned at the end of history, tasked with passing judgement on what has gone before. The reality, however, is that we are still very much in the process; and, while there is undeniably much that needs to be undone and critiqued, there is also so much more that needs to be achieved. Justice and equity won’t come simply because we attack what’s gone before (and what may “look and sound” like it) as unjust and inequitable. What we need to work towards is positive action and empowerment, creativity and collaboration. Hans Magnus Enzensberger said that “It is more fun to blow up a tower than to build it”11, but perhaps it would be even more fun to create a whole new edi ce through a playful collaboration with others. The key questions would then become who those others may be, how you might engage them, and how to ensure that the work is genuinely dialogic and collaborative. In order to be truly potent, theatre needs to historicise and politicise the lived experiences on which it draws, and so to clarify that everyone, both theatre-makers and audience, is involved. In our discussion of KANATA, Dominique Jambert said that Robert Lepage’s aim in using the Théâtre du Soleil’s ensemble to address First Nations history was “to tell the story of Canada from outside and with our eyes. New eyes.” That’s classic Brecht, of course, aiming for a detached, cold theatre of historical understanding and morally informed objectivity. But, for me, the problem is that there is no such thing as detachment in the age of globalisation. It is not the case that a group of international artists based in France are detached from the politics of Canadian colonisation. France has long been part of Canada’s colonial history. Today TOTAL (a French company) has a huge stake in the Canadian tar sands, a focus for First Nations land claims and environmental activism. All over the world, people are using that oil. We are all implicated: we are all involved. So perhaps what we should be striving towards is neither a theatre of detachment nor a theatre of lived experience, but a theatre in which everyone is constantly self-aware and self-critical, working towards a recognition of where they stand in relation to the theme, raising the consciousness of the audience through the process of raising their own. 10

The Dublin training was jointly led with Lucy Dunkerley. It was characteristic of the CRE-ACTORS project that no workshop was led by any single director, but all were co-facilitated. Quoted in Rau op.cit p.50

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This need for a genuine cultural métissage and a space for both artistic and political experiment may account for the way in which islands became a leitmotif in the CRE-ACTORS project. Islands have often served as try-out spaces for social engineering: Ireland has long been a powerful example, and Mauritius, whose history Border Crossings addressed in THE GREAT EXPERIMENT12, has been another. Lampedusa, all too conveniently placed between Sicily and Tunisia, has more recently become the site of a particularly intense intercultural encounter, as dramatised by the Teatro dell’Argine in LAMPEDUSA MIRRORS13. It has been convincingly argued that Lampedusa was the intended setting of Shakespeare’s 1611 play THE TEMPEST14. When I directed the play in India in 1995, I was keen to localise its colonial concerns, both in relation to imperial history and the ongoing “coca-colonisation” by global capital. In 1999 Border Crossings presented TOUFANN, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s play by the Mauritian writer Dev Virahsawmy15, re-imagining Prospero’s island as an intercultural space which, as a direct result of its insular claustrophobia, pushes its inhabitants towards an oppositional rigidity in racial and cultural self-de nition. Virahsawmy’s play counters this with an advocacy of intercultural miscegenation, characterised by the Creole language in which he writes. We translated it into another Creole language: English16. THE TEMPEST also clearly underlies the Théâtre du Soleil’s production of L’ÎLE D’OR17, which opened in late 2021, half way through the CRE-ACTORS project. Set on an imagined Japanese island far from the Cartoucherie, the play dramatises the world of a theatre troupe who open their space to travellers, artists who “resist the forces of evil”, and who are hit by a pandemic. A decade earlier, in LES NAUFRAGÉS DE FOL-ESPOIR, the Soleil had portrayed another shipwreck on an imaginary island, and this was one of the pieces Dominique and Vincent asked us to watch on video in preparation for their training workshop. During the work they led in Paris, an island and a shipwreck formed the basic stimulus for our improvisations. The Théâtre du Soleil often works from a classic model, and if you’re going to address questions of interculturalism and theatre, then THE TEMPEST is an obvious and fertile one to choose. It was also the text through which, in 2011, Robert Lepage undertook a collaborative project that did involve working directly with First Nations artists. Performed outdoors on the Wendake reserve of the Huron-Wendat nation, close to Québec City, LA TEMPÊTE directly addressed the colonisation of “New France” and the ongoing resistance of First Nations. In stark contrast to most productions, Lepage’s staging of the Epilogue did not involve Prospero asking forgiveness of the audience, but instead had him speaking his apology directly to Caliban. Caliban was played by the Métis actor Marco Poulin, who was armed with an axe throughout the scene. As Melissa Poll observes: “Here Prospero is the French and English coloniser writ large, representing colonialism’s devastating legacy, including the loss of Indigenous land, the decimation of Aboriginal populations caused by war and European diseases, the abuse endured in 12

See p. 131-3

13

See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72pFxZYiQaU and François Matarasso: A Restless Art. Lisbon & London, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation 2019. p.176 b For example in Caroline Rooney and ‫كارولني روني‬. “Shakespeare’s Hermetic Lampedusa - ‫شكسبير والمبيدوزا الهرمسية‬: From Colonial Fantasies to the Afterlife in The Tempest.” Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics, no. 42 (2022): 10–38. https:// www.jstor.org/stable/27106554 14

15

See p. 132

16

Dev Virahsawmy and I categorise English as a Creole language because it is composed of words and usages from a huge variety of other languages that migrated with their speakers. It has also itself morphed into many di erent versions of itself, for example Irish English. See p.47-9

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Sulayman Camara, Lea Cirianni, Morro Fatty, Paolo Fronticelli, Matteo Posa, Cherno Sankareh, Costantin Cosmin Sonea, Ida Strizzi, Irene Tarozzi & Dauda Touray in LAMPEDUSA MIRRORS (Teatro dell’Argine) Photo: Luciano Paselli

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residential schools and the consequent cycle of alcoholism and mistreatment faced by many Indigenous Canadians today. Spectators are prompted to see themselves exposed in this face-o and are invited to draw their own conclusions over how Caliban should proceed. It begs the questions: How should settlers be brought to account for colonialism’s devastating impacts? Where does reconciliation t in our national future?”18 This does not sound like the work of a “white, middle-aged man” usurping First Nations’ right to tell their own story, but a sensitive artist engaged on a profound level with the political tensions in and about the space that he jointly inhabits with other cultures, working closely and collaboratively with those cultures to address and share the pressing needs of the immediate moment. It was perhaps easier for Lepage to achieve this in the site-speci c location of Wendake because he was not working with a permanent ensemble like the Théâtre du Soleil, but with a cast speci cally assembled for the project, with ethnic and cultural background a key consideration. This seems to me a central theme in the cross-cultural encounter of the CREACTORS project itself, since two of the organisations involved are ensembles, while the other two are not. The Théâtre du Soleil is made up of performers from a huge range of countries, but they deliberately do not make casting choices on the basis of culture or ethnicity. Rather, as we discovered during our week in Paris, characters emerge through improvisation and are then performed by a wide range of actors as the devising process develops. The costume, the mask, determines what is put on stage, rather than the individual performer inhabiting that mask. The workshop that Dominique and Vincent led was a response to the particular theatrical space they created on the stage of the Cartoucherie, and the vast range of costumes and props (many with a avour of Asian cultures) that were ranged along the side of the stage for us to employ. The imagination is therefore stimulated from the outside, and the cultural Other is “put on” rather than directly encountered. Hélène Cixous, the writer who works with the Soleil in their processes of collective creation, has spoken of: “something that unglues us, that makes us lift o , that tears us from the earth, from common sense and from identi cation, from identity, from the self. A moment ago I said there is a change of country; at the same time there is de-sel ng.”19 It is this abnegation of the self that gives the Théâtre du Soleil’s performances their blazing theatrical forms and their ability through those forms to create what Brecht called a ‘Verfremdungse ekt’ - an estrangement, a making strange, a demonstration that what we are witnessing is not normal, that things do not have to be this way. The Teatro dell’Argine is also a permanent ensemble, but one made up entirely of white Italian artists. They are deeply aware that this marks them as representatives of the host culture, and that this is probably unavoidable for some time to come, given the structural issues that prevent Italians from migrant backgrounds entering the theatrical profession. As a result, the intercultural devising work of this company, which we experienced during our training week in Bologna, is carried out in dialogue with community groups, particularly younger people. Teatro dell’Argine work through theatre to engage with refugees and other minority groups. Sometimes this means that the non-professional status of the people performing determines the theatrical form employed. Sometimes it means that the absence of the Other has itself to be acknowledged within the performance. An example of this would be LA LUCE INTORNO (The Light Around: 2021)20, which related the true story of a young migrant from Africa, but 18

Melissa Poll: Robert Lepage’s Scenographic Dramaturgy. Switzerland, Palgrave Macmillan 2018. pp.136-7

19

Eric Prenowitz(ed): Selected Plays of Hélène Cixous. London, Routledge 2004. p.5

20

https://www.teatrodellargine.org/produzioni/la-luce-intorno-produzione

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was performed as a solo piece by Micaela Casalboni. Her own story, as a theatre-maker engaging with this material, became a key part of the performance too. To return to Godard: the process of representation in itself became real, an artistic intervention in public space. Border Crossings’ 2020 devised play THE GREAT EXPERIMENT21 also dramatised the process of its own creation. Here, however, the casting was more directly re ective of the intercultural identity politics, with Mauritian, Scottish, and both white and black Irish performers representing their own cultural identities and creating their own ‘characters’. The training workshop in Dublin explored how we approach devising which draws directly o the cultural di erences between the people in the room. Of course, we can only do that because we are not a permanent ensemble: we bring together a particular group of artists to make a particular piece happen. This is the norm in Ireland, America and the UK, but it is de nitely not the norm in some other parts of Europe, where commendable collective structures and job security prevail. A key element in understanding the di erences between the partners’ approaches is this structural consideration. Our fourth partner, The Fence, is not a theatre-making organisation at all, but a dramaturgical network, based in Sweden while operating throughout Europe and indeed beyond. I’ve felt deeply grateful for this distinct, detached and questioning presence throughout the project, and particularly now as we attempt to analyse and evaluate what occurred and to explore how we might respond and develop. It was both moving and empowering to see how the participants who had attended the training workshops expressed in their reports a desire to continue collaborating, a sense that the partnership was potentially o ering far more than any one partner might achieve alone. We are beginning to explore what an intercultural collective creation might be if it is generated using a similar networked approach to that of The Fence and of the CRE-ACTORS partnership itself. What happens if direction and leadership are devolved, with di erent partners shouldering responsibility for di erent sections of a project? How might that open up deeper potential for intercultural exchange, and create performances that, because their process is made real, pro er models for societal change? We are no longer separate islands, but are becoming an interdependent archipelago of the kind envisioned by the Martiniquais poet and playwright Édouard Glissant: connected rather than divided by our borders, responding together to the rising and falling of the tides that bind us. Basing his ideas on the Caribbean with its history of colonisation and enslavement, Glissant speaks of a utopian potential in this multilingual and hybrid archipelago, which exists precisely because of the shared experience of trauma, the ultimate “element of exchange” between people. The model can be applied to Europe too: after all, the European Union is at its heart a response to the trauma of Nazism and the Second World War, and was born in the thick of the decolonisation processes which followed that con ict. Thinking of Europe and its relationship to the wider world, Glissant rejects the division of space, property and patrimony as a basis for global ordering, and instead advocates a “tout-monde”: a shared space that emerges from multilingualism and interculturalism through poetry and performance and belongs to all. It is a territory emerging from what has been lost, an open boat, sailing through the storm of history and holding all humanity on board22. * One nal thought as to why this project emerged in the form it did. It happened during the Covid-19 pandemic.

21

See p.131-3

22

Édouard Glissant: “The Open Boat” in The Poetics of Relation (1990) trans. Betsy Wing. Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press 1997.

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When we rst planned our two-year collaboration it was early 2020, and it seemed almost impossible that what we were suggesting would ever happen. Travel, theatre, even physical meetings were all prevented by the need to contain the virus. As the project unfolded, there were constant setbacks as a result of new waves and new lockdowns. In late 2021, there was a rush of infection across the Théâtre du Soleil company. Even in the second half of 2022, people were getting infected and plans were having to alter. But somehow we did it. We met in person and we worked together as living bodies in physical space. We spoke, we sang, we laughed, and in all of these things we celebrated breath. Breath is life. Breath is spirit. In all of the CRE-ACTORS workshops there was a great sense of euphoria, of relief, of freedom and celebration. Creativity, humanity, was no longer con ned. Simply to gather came to feel like a revolutionary action. This did not mean, however, that the pandemic was simply forgotten in our work. Nicola Bonazzi spoke often as the CRE-ACTORS training weeks as a “holiday” from the everyday: but he also acknowledged that this too was an attribute of the Covid lockdown: “One of the proposed exercises concerns our relationship with the lockdown. That too was a period of suspension. A di cult, a dramatic one. But some say it wasn’t that bad. Because it gave the opportunity to stop, not to be swallowed up by haste, by the race. And now we are here, in another suspension, decided by us this time: a suspension in which we take the time to play. To play together. The suspended time of the game is the thing I feel the most in these ve days. With the rediscovery (every time it seems like a new thing) of the wonder of living this suspension with others. A holiday. And after all, doesn’t the term “vacation” derive from the Latin “vacare”, that is, “to miss”? Theatre = empty = vacation. Theatre is a vacation. In short, in these ve days I have been on vacation. But it has also been ve full days... And so what? And so, I lled my vacation with discoveries.” When “normal life” was suspended, we were forced to question why. The spreading of the virus to humans was the result of our having destroyed the natural habitats of other animals, and its spreading around the planet was the result of globalisation with its constant movement of people and goods. Faced with the consequences of our actions, and aware that this was a smaller version of the climate catastrophe that is to come, we were compelled to re-think structures and approaches to living and working, including theatre. We became more aware of how crucial the “excluded” were: the “essential workers” going about the business of sustaining life while life was on hold were not bankers, accountants or performers but food pickers, shelf stackers and care workers. We might have been con ned to our homes but we could still order pizza. With that awareness there came an understanding of the need to consider the entire planet and the whole of humanity in our thinking, a sense of the deep injustice that the globalised world makes manifest in its cities and its elds, a desire for cultural and spiritual renewal. Maybe, in the aftermath of the pandemic, we can begin to move away from the idea that the intercultural, the migrant, is somehow a problem or a threat to “us”, and instead to recognise our common need for justice and humanity. At the end of our discussion LEPAGE AU SOLEIL, Innu writer Maya Cousineau Mollen said how pleased and relieved she was that the controversy was being discussed calmly. Previous

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debates had been much more acrimonious and confrontational. “It was like a challenge, where you have to choose: you are with me or against me. I hope that with time people will calm down and see things in a more philosophical way.” In Bologna, as Nicola recalls, we were asked to use our memories of lockdown as a stimulus for creativity. There are several of these “umbrella stories” in this e-book, and we’d like to invite you to join us in hearing them as intimate performances, the sharing of personal experiences that have wider resonance and social meaning. I wasn’t speci cally remembering Maya’s call for “a more philosophical way” when I wrote my umbrella story, but I nd a synergy between what we each express. Here it is.

Sligo October 2022

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It was the moment when the world said “Stop. You’ve all gone mad. You need this time. Slow down. Adjust. Re-calibrate. Turn inward. Ask what you have done.” Nature came back. In a London kitchen sunlight penetrated the stained glass and the feeling of the world shifted In the West of Ireland candles were lit for the su ering, re ected in disco balls In Chile a huge TV was never used In Dublin a TV was always on In Brazil the beach was not there In Paris the windows opened onto gardens and sca olding Orchestras marched through the corridors of Chiswick In Bologna the piles of laundry multiplied while a huge sh hung on a bedroom wall And in fair Verona, a girl with the name of a star opened her grandfather’s book of philosophy.

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HOW TO USE THIS E-BOOK “In any movement towards liberation it will be necessary to deny the normative authority of the dominant language” (Seamus Heaney)23 This documentation cannot be, as it were, value neutral. It must recognise rst the hegemonic tendencies of the English language. English was the main administrative language of the CREACTORS project, and it is the main language of this e-book, because it happens, as a result of colonial histories, to be a common meeting point in a globalised world. However, it was not the sole language for the project’s creative work, which was rich in its linguistic and cultural complexity. We wanted to re ect this in the e-book, and so have chosen to keep the Umbrella Stories in their original languages - the languages in which their authors chose to write them. The main sections of the book deal with the training work we undertook in each of the project locations: Paris, Bologna and Dublin. Each of these, plus the shorter fourth section called Stockholm, begins with an “Abbecadario” or ABC, describing how the participants from each organisation saw themselves. These pieces were written by Nicola Bonazzi of Teatro dell’Argine in response to interviews with project participants in Bologna, working in the language of the partner organisation. We have reproduced them here with English translations, and there are also links to hear them performed in their original language. The Fence, based in Sweden, operates as an international network, and had a more lateral project role: so its ABC is in the common project language, English. We hope these creative elements give a taste of the project’s multilingual cocktail. At the heart of each section is an account of the Intercultural Devising Practices o ered by each partner, together with images from and around their training workshop, and comments from the reports written by participants in response to the training. We have deliberately placed the methodologies, images24 and commentary together so as to generate dialogues between them, with the intention of provoking our readers, particularly those wanting to apply the practices in their own work, to further thought and development. This dialogic approach is at once dramatic, intercultural and democratic; and we hope it will prove empowering. Each account of the training methodologies is complemented by a discussion of a production that was rooted in that approach, and by other contextual materials that relate the approach to wider intercultural contexts and discourses. In theatre, context is everything. The e-book’s Afterword is a conversation between Michael Walling and Ariane Mnouchkine, which took place in 2004, but which could in retrospect be regarded as providing the seed of the CRE-ACTORS project. This previously unpublished conversation o ers further possibilities for thinking through devised theatre as a response to an increasingly intercultural European space.

23

Seamus Heaney: The Redress of Poetry. London, Faber, 1995 p.7

24

Because the Paris workshop took place on the Cartoucherie stage in the presence of the set for L’ÎLE D’OR, prior to the production’s opening, the opportunities for photography were more limited than elsewhere.

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Song Ru Hui in CONSUMED (Border Crossings) Photo: Richard Davenport

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“The border crosser… goes between the living and the dead, between eras, between di erent circles, between the di erent ‘houses’.” (Hélène Cixous) “Rien n'est, tout devient” [“Nothing is, everything becomes”] (Aimé Césaire: UNE TEMPÊTE)

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1. PARIS • ABC - Théâtre du Soleil • Introduction to the Théâtre du Soleil • Intercultural Devising Practices: Paris Training Dominique Jambert and Vincent Mangado • A Re ection from The Fence - Jonathan Meth • “A Place of Exile and Welcome” - L’Île d’Or / Kanemu-jima - Rosalind Fielding (Border Crossings) • Lepage au Soleil - an online discussion

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Duccio Bellugi-Vannuccini in LE DERNIER CARAVANSÉRAIL (Théâtre du Soleil) Photo: C.H. Bradier

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ABÉCÉDAIRE DE THÉÂTRE DU SOLEIL A comme ARIANE, qui avec le A d’APPRENTISSAGE nous fait monter sur le B, BATEAU: tout le monde voguant dans la même direction au gré des vents et malgré 25

les tempêtes ! B comme BAR, bien sûr. Santé ! D’abord il y a le bar et après il y a le bar... Entre les deux, le spectacle

C pour CUISINE : là où on se réunit, on discute, on s’organise. Entre les deux, les répétitions. - Je dis CONCOCTAGE. Un mot qui n’existe pas. - Il existe ! - Il n’existe pas. - Il existe ! Il existe au Théâtre du Soleil, donc il existe. - Concocter existe, c’est préparer, élaborer un plat. - Au Soleil on a inventé un substantif pour désigner l’action de préparer une improvisation ou une scène C’est ce qui cuit ensemble, c’est à dire... le concoctage. - Mais dans le dictionnaire, ça n’existe pas. - Ça existe. - Ça n’existe pas. - Ça existe… - Alors je dis COURAGE : parce qu’il faut en avoir tellement...

D

Oui, mais aussi de DESIR : mettre le pied entre le chambranle et la porte. Est-ce que je peux entrer ? Et D pour DOUTE. Pourquoi est-ce que je continue à faire du théâtre ? C’est parfois si di cile… Parce que j’ai cette envie… Alors : puis-je entrer ?

E comme ENFANCE : ce que nous devons retrouver quand nous montons sur scène : nos rêves, nos fragilités, notre amusement, notre crédulité

- Et là où il y a des enfants, il y a une

F, FAMILLE. Et là où il y a une famille, il y a le

G, GOÛTER !!! L’instant de la pause, le goût de l’enfance. - G pour GOURBI ! Sssst, attends, je dois te dire un secret, allons au gourbi…

H comme HISTOIRES, au pluriel : celles dont on vit, celles dont on se nourrit. Mais aussi au singulier : la grande histoire, celle du monde.

I comme IMPROVISATION. - Ou comme IMAGINATION. - L’un ne va pas sans l’autre… - C’est lié…

J comme JEUX ? Oui, le théâtre, c’est jouer. Comme des enfants.

K comme KABUKI : un des premiers éblouissements d’Ariane, et une inspiration constante. 25

Listen to the Abécédaire at https://bit.ly/3VY6DE8

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L comme LUMIÈRE. C’est ce qui nous éclaire. Ce qui souligne, et ce qui laisse dans l’ombre…

M comme MUSIQUE, et MASQUES… qui sont nos MAITRES ! Et comme MONDE, celui qu’on découvre, celui qu’on reçoit... Et comme MAISON, une maison qui protège, qui accueille… où on se donne le

N de NOURRITURE ! Di érentes recettes et di érentes odeurs, O comme ODEURS. Nouvelles, inconnues, surprenantes. P comme PAIN. Car, comme disait Victor Hugo, le théâtre doit faire de la pensée le pain de l’esprit. - Arrête de frimer !

Q comme “QUI veut faire un peu de théâtre avec moi ?” Une phrase d’Ariane qu’on entend souvent!

R comme RENCONTRE, comme RÊVE, comme RÉSISTANCE : le rêve de continuer à faire du théâtre contre l’esprit des temps, contre l’organisation moderne, contre la normalisation : parce que nous ne sommes pas une société par actions mais une coopérative…

S comme STAGE : sans Stage beaucoup d’entre nous ne seraient pas entrés au Théâtre du Soleil ; S comme SACRÉ, l’espace qui devient sacré, la terreur sacrée du théâtre… et comme SOIE, la soie de la mer, des rivières, des océans, qui peuplent presque tous les spectacles du Soleil

T comme TROUPE, travailler ensemble, rêver ensemble, construire ensemble et, de cette façon, essayer de donner corps au

U de UTOPIE V comme VISION qui permet de faire des VOYAGES ; les tournées du Soleil dans le monde, les odyssées de ceux qui viennent de loin pour nous rencontrer, et les voyages des acteurs dans le pays de l’imagination

W comme l’opposant chinois WEI JING SHENG, le Soleil a joué son procès pour le soutenir, et 30 ans après, on l’a rencontré… c’est une longue histoire, la part politique de notre théâtre… on vous la racontera une autre fois…

X comme le X de eXigeant : on apprend à l’être ! Y de YACK et autres créatures : tous les animaux de nos spectacles âne, vache, grues, singes, nandou, dromadaire, chevaux, ours… c’est vrai zoo !

Z de ZEAMI, acteur, danseur, théoricien du Théâtre Nô, mort en exil, dont nous sommes aussi héritiers… Voilà ? Voilà !

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ABC - THÉÂTRE DU SOLEIL A for ARIANE, who along with the A of her APPRENTICES makes us board the B, BOAT : all of us sailing in the same direction, following the winds and through the storms! B as in BAR, of course. Cheers! The bar before and the bar after… And in between, the show.

C as in CUISINE : in the kitchen we gather, we argue, we discuss, we organise. Between all this, the rehearsals. I prefer CONCOCTAGE, CONCOCTING. A word that doesn’t exist (in French at least!) It exists! It does not! It exists! It exists in the Théâtre du Soleil, so it exists. To concoct - it exists, it’s the preparing, the elaboration of a dish. At the Soleil we invented this noun to describe the preparation of an improvisation. or a scene It’s what cooks together, in other words… the concocting. But it doesn’t exist in the (French!)dictionary It exists. It does not It exists… Well then I say COURAGE : because one needs so much of it…

D

Yes but also for DESIRE : sticking your foot between the door jamb and the door. May I come in? And D as in DOUBT. Why do I keep on in theatre? It’s so di cult sometimes… Because I have this desire…So : may I come in?

E as in ENFANCE (CHILDLIKE) : the quality we need to

nd on stage : our dreams, our fragility,

our capacity for fun, our credulity. And where there are children, there is an

F, FAMILY.

G

And where there’s a family there’s , GOÛTER (TEATIME)!!! A pause, an instant, the taste of childhood.. G for GOURBI (THE SHACK)! Pssst, wait, I have a secret to tell you let’s go to the shack…

H as in HISTOIRES (STORIES), in plural : the ones we live, the ones that nourish us. But also, in the singular : the grand story, the story of the World.

I as in IMPROVISATION Or as in IMAGINATION. One doesn’t evolve without the other… They’re linked…

J as in JEUX? (PLAY)? Yes theatre is playing. Like children.

K for KABUKI : one of Ariane’s rst dazzlements, a constant inspiration. L for LIGHTS. Which illuminate us. Which underline or which leave in the shadow… M as in MUSIC, and MASKS… who are our MASTERS!

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And as in MONDE (THE WORLD), the one we discover, the one we invite… And as in MAISON (HOME), a home that protects, that welcomes… where we nd our

N as in NOURISHMENT! Di erent recipes and di erent odours, O for ODOURS. New, unknown, surprising. P for PAIN (BREAD). Because as Victor Hugo said, theatre should transform thought into bread (food) for the spirit. Show-o !

Q for QUI “(WHO) wants to come and make some theatre with me?” Something we hear Ariane often say!

R as in RENCONTRE (ENCOUNTERS), as in RÊVE (DREAMS), as in RESISTANCE : the dream of continuing to make theatre in spite of the spirit of the times, in spite of modern organization, in spite of normalisation : because we are not stockholders in a company but a cooperative…

S for STAGE (WORKSHOPS) : without workshops many of us would never have become members of the Soleil. S as in SACRED, the space that becomes sacred, the sacred terror that theatre inspires… And like SILK, the silk of the oceans, rivers, seas that inhabit almost all the Soleil’s shows.

T for TROUPE, working together, dreaming together, building together… and in this way trying to incarnate the

U of UTOPIA.

V as in VISION, which allows us to VOYAGE : the Soleil’s tours around the world, the odysseys of those who travel from afar to meet us, and the voyages the actors make in the countries of their imagination.

W like the Chinese dissident WEI JING SHENG, in his support the Soleil re-enacted his trial and 30 years later we met him… a long story, the political side of our company… we can tell you more later on…

X like eX-IGENT : we learn how to be demanding of ourselves! Y as in YAK and other creatures : all the animals that have traversed our shows, a donkey, a cow, storks, monkeys, a nandu bird, a dromedary, horses, a bear… a regular zoo!

Z for ZEAMI, actor, dancer, expert theoretician of the Noh theatre, who died in exile, of whom we are also the heirs… That’s it? That’s it!

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THÉÂTRE DU SOLEIL The Théâtre du Soleil, founded in 1964 by Ariane Mnouchkine and a few friends from university theatre and the Jacques Lecoq school, made a name for itself very early on, both with its collective creations (LES CLOWNS, 1789) and with its versions of Shakespeare's A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM and Wesker's THE KITCHEN. Everything was already there, in the making: the attraction for an epic and contemporary theatre nourished by history, the importance given to research into form, masked acting, the in uence of Asian theatres, etc. In 1970, the arrival at the Cartoucherie, a former military factory in the Bois de Vincennes, on the outskirts of Paris, anchored the company and gave it the workplace it had dreamed of, the space necessary for the existence of a troupe such as the Théâtre du Soleil: a cooperative, practising equal pay, sharing tasks between di erent trades, and already an essential component of the troupe: actors from all over the world. The Cartoucherie also reinforced what makes a theatre strong: its a ectionate and privileged link with its audience. Here, everything is done to make them feel at home: they are welcomed, pampered, fed, invited to a party. The important and historic collaborators of Ariane Mnouchkine and the troupe then arrived: Jean-Jacques Lemêtre, composer and multi-instrumentalist; Erhardt Stie el, mask maker; GuyClaude François, set designer; Hélène Cixous, writer and academic. Since then, shows and lms have followed one another and toured the world: L'ÂGE D'OR (The Golden Age), which revived the Commedia dell'arte, MOLIÈRE, the Shakespeare cycle, in uenced by Indian and Japanese forms, ancient tragedies (LES ATRIDES, inspired by Indian and Caucasian forms), modern creations (written by Hélène Cixous) with contemporary preoccupations, and collective productions. Over the last twenty years, numerous multiplatform creations have taken the company around the world: Let's mention TAMBOURS SUR LA DIGUE (Drums on the Dam), inspired by Japanese puppet forms, LE DERNIER CARAVASÉRAIL (The Last Caravanserai), built from stories and testimonies collected from refugees and asylum seekers all over the world, with a scenography on carts, which we nd again for LES ÉPHÉMÈRES (Ephemera), intimate stories about French memories, then LES NAUFRAGÉS DU FOL-ESPOIR (The Survivors of Mad Hope), a mise en abîme of theatrical and cinematographic creation mixing silent cinema and the rise of the 14-18 war around a novel by Jules Verne, a MACBETH tribute to the British cinema of the 40s and 50s, KANATA directed by Robert Lepage, on the genocides and femicides against the Canadian First Nations and currently L’ÎLE D’OR (The Isle of Gold), a return to the Japanese sources for the company. The company currently has around 70 permanent members, drawn from roughly 20 countries.

L’ÎLE D’OR (Théâtre du Soleil) Photo: Anne Lacombe

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Paris training: at the Cartoucherie

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by Dominique Jambert & Vincent Mangado (Théâtre du Soleil) The objective of the training week was to give a concrete demonstration of how the Théâtre du Soleil approaches collective creation, within the context of how the company works interculturally: in terms of the content (what makes up the company), and the form (the subject matter). We followed the classical format of creation: proposal of a theme (vast), a space ( exible), provision of costumes (epic and contemporary) and work with music (bearing various emotions). All of this was fed by a few references given in advance. For example: “There was a ship, a storm, a shipwreck... a few survivors were stranded on an island... but this island is not deserted!” Inevitably, we drew on associations with Shakespeare's THE TEMPEST, Homer's ODYSSEY, our own play LES NAUFRAGÉS DU FOL-ESPOIR (The Survivors of Mad Hope), but also with what is happening today on some Greek and Italian islands... A circular space was created on the main stage, with four entrances and an additional corridor in which to perform behind the spectators, seated around the perimeter. Sailors' costumes, doublets, military jackets and coastguard out ts - period and modern were on hand to sketch out voyagers and islanders from all over the world - and further open up the imaginations. Mornings were devoted to a complete physical warm-up, based on those practiced by the company, to underline the importance given to our two basic working tools: the body and the imagination. This was followed daily by improvisations to music. Each afternoon was devoted to the main theme itself, but very quickly the musical improvisations began to absorb the theme, and the thematic focus adopted music or situations that had been sketched out in the morning. Finally, a time of re ection was left at the end of each day, focused around a daily element of performance: music, space, warm-up and physical work, costumes, and what it is for the same roles to be worked by di erent actors. In addition, we asked ourselves how we were going to work with di erent languages. This is something which we don't do at Le Soleil: even if the show uses di erent languages, the working language is always French. We agreed to leave time in our day for translations, and expressed a clear desire to hear on stage the di erent languages gathered.

“In this workshop, all the elements have been gathered to search for moments of theatre and it is something wonderful, because the Théâtre du Soleil is the only place I’ve seen this. In Chile, in general, companies don’t have a xed space to rehearse, or create, or dream and to devote themselves to the theatre, they must rst cover their own economic needs.… The dream exists. It’s a lot of work, it’s always a lot of e ort, but the dream is possible.” 37

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(Andrea Formantel)

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INTERCULTURAL DEVISING PRACTICES - Paris training


Day 1 We began with a tour across the whole theatre space; a reminder of the company's history, presentation of the working space (stage and backstage), and costumes and props available. Warm-up and games introduced the importance of “playing", like children. The participants are quickly absorbed in the game, approached through di erent variations on “cat and mouse", which drew attention to notions of chorus, placement in space, getting around the rules - in a playful way! These games highlighted an essential aspect of the work: the relationship with childhood. They also removed the notions of “failure" or “success", which is often important with students or those relatively new to theatre. With our group made up of experienced professionals, we were entirely focused on the joy of discovery and sharing. This is fundamental to the working process and will be rea rmed throughout the week. This was followed by improvisations to music, in a proscenium arch type space, with a central curtain with two sides allowing appearances and entrances from the centre and the sides. THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE (Ducasse); THE RIDE OF THE VALKYRIES (Wagner), SLEEPING BEAUTY (Tchaikovsky). With regards the choice of music: varied pieces, conveyed images, visions and emotions. The fact that they are (Western) “classical" makes them universal, in the sense that they cannot be “folklorised". After listening to each piece, those participants who have a vision (note the di erence between a vision and an idea: a vision is not an intellectual construction, which is what an idea is, but comes from an image, a sensation, ...) quickly prepare it with the number of participants they need. At this stage these are rst drafts of what will be the preparation of a more elaborate improvisation, so no costumes or props. With these rst drafts, we notice: the importance of an entrance; listening to the partners (including music), the vision, the need to show the audience. A form begins to appear, inspired by masked games, speci c to this group. Here, it is less acrobatic than in a younger group, but freer and more varied in the themes of improvisation. The collective fantasy appears from the very rst improvisations, with elements including: hunting birds, fantastic rides, going to war, seduction at the ball ... We wind up with personal time for re ection: “In your work, what is your relationship to music, your use of music?” “Working with people from di erent backgrounds, who speak di erent languages was exciting. Intercultural expeditions like this often take place in the context of encounters across national identities, and across di erent cultures and languages. The dynamics of the intercultural encounter between the participants heightened the fun…. The music that we used throughout the workshop was a bit prescriptive. The suggestion is to widen the scope. The imagined shipwreck that was the foundational pedestal of our role plays could have happened anywhere, on the coast of New Zealand, Brazil, or West Africa. It may have been reasonable to have the choice of Djembe and Konga drums sound to accentuate our improvisations”. (Kunle Animashaun)

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Day 2 We began as usual with warm up and games, the same as the day before, with variations. Two pieces of music are added: ROMEO AND JULIET (Proko ev) and PEER GYNT (Grieg) Some essential costume accessories are now allowed to be used in the further development of the improvisations. Already, the musical improvisations approach the main theme: a boat of refugees taken over by coastguards, shipwrecked people on a raft…. The theme (the island) and the space (the circle) are explored across the di erent languages. The wider group is divided into four, with a member of the French contingent in each group, to guide the working method. Here this is not strictly necessary, as the participants are seasoned professionals! Note that with students, this is essential. Unsurprisingly, we have a shipwreck sketch, arrivals on the island, which question and use the space in di erent ways. Then a group of women lost on the island appear, as well as a distant ‘cousin' of Caliban (Michael). We again wind up with personal time for the day’s re ection: “Is this the rst time you have used a circular space? A circus? What spaces do you use? How? Why?"

LE DERNIER CARAVANSÉRAIL (Théâtre du Soleil) Photo: C.H. Bradier

“It becomes more complicated if I have to think about using these tools when working with a group of newly arrived asylum seekers, political refugees or non-professional foreigners, for example. In this case, the beauty of the nal show cannot be built if we do not rst build shared rules with our workmates and fellows: most probably, many of them do not have an idea of what theatre is, or the way we mean it. And so, we must imagine a phase of listening to the proposals made, and that these proposals may be evaluated without having a pre-de ned poetic space. If a girl from Mali proposes a dance or a song or a prayer or a story, we must take it into account. The archetype of the sea can be understood in a very di erent way by a Kurdish, an Algerian or a Syrian boy as well as the choice of using one language rather than another, or a culturally connoted music, that may have a di erent meaning or in uence on some and not on others. In these cases, having a director with an already de ned poetic vision, asking the participants to build together the path to achieve it, can be complicated. Too many things are missing. In this case, we like to talk about the Third Space. A place of landing for the work (the poetic space of the direction of which we spoke before) that is not already in my head or in yours. It does not have either the mainstream connotations of Western Theatre, neither the folkloric or the exotic aspect in which we often risk to fall.” (Andrea Paolucci)

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Day 3 A di erent, calmer, gentler warm-up, followed by a group massage session. The main objective is to gradually remove any physical inhibitions. And to give another insight into the warm-up, other tools. Preparation and improvisations to music continue. The costumes are introduced in full, as well as any necessary props. An improvisation seen the day before is reworked, beginning to work on the “method" of the Soleil : how to rework an improvisation, what to rework, the possibility of reworking it with di erent actors who take on characters created by others; what this brings, and how to use this enrichment. The theme continues to infuse the musical improvisations with apocryphal episodes from THE TEMPEST: Prospero captures Ferdinand, a ‘cousin' of Miranda meets a Caliban. Preparation and improvisations on the theme. Note that those of the morning, in the proscenium arrangement of the space - and with music, feed those of the afternoon, in the circular arranged space - and sometimes without music. Note also that di erent languages emerge: di erent spoken languages and di erent theatrical forms. They do not exclude each other, but on the contrary resonate and open up possibilities. Personal re ection: “What warm-up and preparation exercises do you use? How do you do them? Why?" “The work D&V do physically in the mornings is great: it’s about being able to isolate parts of the body and moving them with precision. This to me is also part of a dramaturg’s training, being able to isolate parts and move them separately within the whole whether it is in the body, the sound, the visuals, the story, or any other part we present to our audiences.” (Hanna Slättne)

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“From my personal experience (in Chile and some experiences abroad), we don’t generally have much time to rehearse and sometimes we don’t do physical preparation, or we do it individually; the complete opposite of the practice of this workshop, where the preparation is done as a group and has everything to do with how we are going to work. The game makes us enter into the laws of the theatre. Our body is a tool and just as we exercise our emotions, we must exercise our body. We need to be warm inside and out. Perhaps there is no inside and outside, only an integral whole that must be modulated or mastered 40 to express, tell a story, communicate”. (Andrea Formantel)


Day 4 Warm-up and games continue building on those played previously. Presentation is made of the improvisations in the circle prepared the day before, but not yet performed. Music is now widely present in the improvisations on the theme. They can be requested by the participants, or sent by surprise by the leaders of the work. The island is enriched with new characters, still in the rough stage, but su ciently characterised to exist: a captain and his rst mate (Kunle and Saboor), a duo of sailors (Xevi and Paolo), a fairy-witch from a Nordic country (Hanna), a couple of shipwrecked parents (Ida and Nicola)…. These characters will give rise to new situations, new improvisations and new characters. They will be reworked by other actors. The group makes the Soleil's way of working their own. Personal re ection on the costumes: “How do you use them? At what point in the rehearsals? How does it bring to life what you are doing?” “The incredible possibility to work with props and costumes was exciting. Maybe just a simple suggestion (put the costume on to help your character) can give you a lot of new paths to follow. It’s hard in my experience to work directly and immediately or simply to start with costumes; costumes sometimes come almost at the end (even when you really needed them before), especially when working with theatre students. It’s also true that I can’t have access to a number of costumes as we had in Paris, but it’s a tool I would like to explore also with my group of students, as soon as I can be with them again. As I would like them to be challenged with the same characters and take the time to explore as much as possible a situation, before we put it on stage.” (Ida Strizzi)

“Dominique and Vincent independently came up to me to talk about my costume asking if I was Japanese. I said no. I just wanted to be colourful. They asked me to change the costume so that it was clear I was not a Japanese person. This intrigued me as there did not seem to be the same sensitivities around other costumes. I am wondering if this was about being culturally sensitive or more about locating the island we were creating.” (Hanna Slättne)

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Last day (already!) Final warm-up and games. Improvisations to music, but on the theme and in the circle. This helps to pick up on characters already glimpsed and recognisable, and completes the (basic!) dramaturgy of our island. Improvisations on the theme. Appearance of a storyteller (Kunle), use of di erent languages mixed in the same improvisation (the drunken captain who calls out to the sea in Gaelic, Sandra), new characters (Xevi's butter ies). Personal re ection on the process of working and reworking roles and situations: “to what extent do you work like this? What does it bring?" Across the ve days together, we got a taste of a possible show. The island appeared, as well as some characters. We had di erent epochs and di erent styles, which can obviously coexist at the beginning of the creative process, insofar as they feed each other. The imaginations started to come together, the objective was achieved. The group was very pleasant, and once again we note the experience and professionalism of the participants. The same thing would have been very di cult to achieve in ve days with a more novice group, or one in which no one knew each other, either personally or through the work. • Can the actors be empowered with the choice making of what to select to move forward with? Or is this inevitably a director led process? • Can the genre shift when the company brings in their di erent cultural lenses? Or is it always rooted in the sensibility that has grown from LeCoq and other in uences on the work? • As a non-actor, the work of the actors in the room illustrated the form and its potential. I am interested in how the form would develop in non-actors without this modelling (if this is the work you do with non-actors…). (Debbie Seymour)

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“There are some mechanisms linked to the process that I actually wish I knew more about. Not starting with distributing roles, allowing di erent actors to play the same character(s), allowing all the participants to eventually enter a scene improvised by others, thus generating unexpected creative results is certainly a great richness, but I wonder: is it possible that misunderstandings, disagreements or rivalries arise? If any, how are they managed?” (Paolo Fronticelli)

“I think having several people improvise the same role is an excellent way of developing many elements to a character in the process of searching, in order to build an in-depth and multi-layered character. The potential of imbuing a character with one's own interpretation, which has been established by another actor or several actors, provides great scope for character development, richness and an in nite number of possibilities to portray. It allows us to really play with time; past, present, future of that character simultaneously, and all the colour, depth and theatrical potentials that form of improvisation can provide for an innovative, creative and high level theatrical expression.” (Sandra O’Malley)

“The use of costume in this workshop has been exciting and inspirational for me. It is, of course, a mask - a character put on us from the outside, not ‘found’ from within. Masks emerge from traditions, and so do these costumes - the awareness of 55 years of the Soleil in this wardrobe is empowering as you put them on. The costumes in the workshop also raise intercultural questions in the devising process, and these are important. The kimonos, the headbands, the bamboos - all take us towards Japan. The coats from LES ATRIDES take us towards India. You can’t just ignore this, because the costume a ects, even determines, the way you move.” (Michael Walling)

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A REFLECTION FROM THE FENCE by Jonathan Meth (The Fence) I want to begin my re ection on the Paris training with: “The dream of a common imagination. We start like children”. This impetus - that collaborative childhood play is the wellspring. There are some key touchstones for me here: 1. Dream sets out the territory. Onstage we may be in many places, but none of them are places of reality. The world of the stage is not realistically re ective of the outside world. This creates a marker around identity and the politics thereof. 2. A common imagination means a world built together, eschewing the psychologised territory of individual character in favour of a literal mise-en-scene. 3. (Most safe, healthy and well-fed younger) Children are not bound by expectations of understanding external codes, and whether these codes - and their perceptions - need be complied with, subverted or circumnavigated. They just do. Then they do again, building on or playing around with what has just been done. 4. This then begs the question that if the stage is not the world outside, what does it mean to see it as an “Empty Space”? If all theatre is about identity & transformation, then what combinatory model is made manifest on this Paris stage? Through imaginative transformation (of the audience) brought about by the collective imaginative transformation by those on stage, identities might then emerge. Why am I bothering to try and pick a way through this? Well, if we are to understand the working methodologies of our hosts it seems (to me to be) crucial to contextualise their practice by working through it in relation to a wider framework. In this case laïcité. Literally translated as secularism, it exists as a counterweight to French Catholicism and advances the position of the state above that of the church. In doing so it seeks to eschew di erence, declaring all citizens equal. It is fundamental to the French ‘weltanschauung’, and underpins liberté, egalité, fraternité. Laïcité relies on the division between private life and the public sphere in which each individual should appear as a simple citizen who is equal to all other citizens, not placing any emphasis on any ethnic, religious, or other particularities. This equality is not, however, necessarily tantamount to equity. By implication it constructs an assimilationist paradigm in which the other is absorbed into the body politic – “nous sommes tous Français”. This stands in marked contrast to the focus on identity politics of ‘le monde anglophone’. The fault line which runs between these two di erent world views can be seen graphically in the responses of the CRE-ACTORS workshop participants. What is important here, is to try to arrive at an understanding that is rooted not in theory, nor terminology, nor ideology, but ostensibly in practice – and its impact on an audience. Into this mix di erent languages are brought and can co-exist, providing texture and reminding us that theatre is about apprehension rather than comprehension. So not everyone will receive the same thing… This is reinforced by the variability of interpretation and what Dominique and Vincent select for further exploration (and not)… The nal image, then, is one of co-existence and that in executing the ensemble collectively, the individual momentarily stands out. It strikes me as a platonic model, an imagined (better) world, unfettered by the journalese of so much so-called realism and its identity-based obsessions.

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On the other hand in choosing to eschew the politics of representation, and merely present co-existence, the act of translation required to relate the stage back to the outside world will remain the work of each individual audience member.

Omid Rawendah, Nirupama Nityanandan &Reza Rajabi in L’ÎLE D’OR (Théâtre du Soleil) Photo: Anne Lacombe

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Ça fait quelques jours que je n’entends aucun bruit, c’est bizarre. Mes copains et moi, on est installé dans un coin entre deux grillages, un peu ouvert, au métro. C’est étrange, depuis un certain temps, on ne voit personne. D’autres copains sont arrivés, depuis quelques jours, c’est le printemps, ils nous ont invités à faire la fête dans leurs arbres, même à rester dormir. C’est là où je remarque une dame qui me regarde depuis une fenêtre, elle me fait signe pour que je m’approche, j’y vais, elle ouvre la fenêtre, elle a l’air triste, elle me dit : j’aimerais bien être toi, je ne supporte plus Net ix. Ensuite, elle a essayé de s'envoler. Elle n’a pas réussi. (Xevi Ribas)

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A PLACE OF EXILE AND WELCOME L’Île d’Or / Kanemu-jima by Rosalind Fielding (Border Crossings) L’ÎLE D’OR - KANEMU-JIMA. Collective creation of the Théâtre du Soleil. Premiered 3rd November 2021 at the Cartoucherie. Directed by Ariane Mnouchkine, music by Jean-Jacques Lemȇtre, in collaboration with Hélène Cixous. The Théâtre du Soleil’s most recent piece, L’ÎLE D’OR, opened with two masked characters all in black (the kuroko of traditional Japanese theatre) reminding the audience to turn their phones o , and ended with the arrival of several cranes performed by stilt-walkers heralding a nal dance to “We’ll meet again” by Vera Lynn. With its mix of elements from Japanese theatre, references to current a airs, and a cacophony of languages, it was with this production that the Théâtre du Soleil marked its return after the Covid-enforced lockdowns. L’ÎLE D’OR built on UNE CHAMBRE EN INDE, a 2016 production by the Théâtre du Soleil, with the reappearance of its main character Cornélia. As in UNE CHAMBRE EN INDE, Cornélia dreams the story from her bedroom, here largely con ned to her bed. Su ering from an unnamed sickness, which many reviewers suggested was Covid, her dreams of an island o the coast of Japan and the international theatre festival being held there provides a framework for the piece - fever dream or otherwise. On the island, and in Cornélia’s dream, the characters speak a multitude of di erent languages and bring with them di erent theatrical styles and political backgrounds, just like the real troupe of actors performing the show. The main language of the show, French, is itself made dream-like through its upended syntax, placing the verb at the end of the sentence. Japanese is a subject-object-verb (SOV) language, and following this order created a ‘replication’ of Japanese in French. For example, this led to lines such as “en n, compris tu as” and “un ȇtre humain je suis, ne suis-je pas?”. The perfect dialect for a production that was not quite Japan but nearly, and not exactly France either. This hybrid speaking style was greeted by a range of responses, with some reviewers writing that the French was “comically disrupted” and “ironically spoken like a foreign language”, and others that the speaking style was “accessible to French speakers, whilst respecting the foreign”26. Some found it confusing or were unable to understand why it was being used (for example - it “seems to be linked to the Japanese language”), while one reviewer described it as a “childish play on language, a pseudo-verlan for a fantasy Japan” which “amuses for a moment and eventually wearies you”27. For myself, as a Japanese and French speaker who has lived in Japan, this neolanguage seemed perfectly logical and there were times when (embarrassingly) I failed to notice that the verb had switched from its usual spot in French. Not only did it audibly and grammatically bring the “foreign" into the production and thereby remind the audience that this was and was not Japan/France, it also allowed an element of play, like a child’s game. The idea of play, of creating without being held back and devising

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Christian Drapon, ‘L’Île d’Or (Kanemu Jima)’, 17 November 2021, https://thtre132.wordpress.com/2021/11/17/lile-dorkanemu-jima/ Emma Denarcy, ‘L’île d’or au Théâtre du Soleil : L’hommage d’Ariane Mnouchkine au Japon’, 1 December 2021, https://blogs.parisnanterre.fr/article/lile-dor-au-theatre-du-soleil-lhommage-dariane-mnouchkine-au-japon-0 27

Orélien Péréol, ‘L’île d’or au Soleil’, 26 November 2021, https://www.agoravox.fr/culture-loisirs/culture/article/l-iled-or-au-soleil-237477 Corrine Dennailles, ‘L’Île d’Or de Kanemu-jimal, création collective du Théâtre du Soleil: : Faisons un rêve’, 24 November 2021, https://webtheatre.fr/L-ile-d-or-de-Kanemu-Jimal-creation-collective-du-Theatre-du-soleil

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together even via games, was something that was very present in the CRE-ACTORS workshops held at the Cartoucherie in July 2021. With the emergence of multiple characters, some of whom only stayed for one scene, I was also reminded of the playful element that emerged during that workshop. Play also seems to be an important keyword for a production that was presented as a dream of one of its own characters. Following a dream’s logic, things can be both beautiful and terrible, real and not real at the same time - echoing that feeling of seeing someone you know in a dream but with a di erent face. I was reminded of the work of Japanese director Yukio Ninagawa (1935-2016), whose name has often been linked with Ariane Mnouchkine in articles (often critical of both) about intercultural theatre. But the link I saw was not about the controversies or methodology of interculturalism, but in the playfulness and often dream-like way both directors mix cultures and images. Emi Hamana described Ninagawa’s work as a “theatre of wonders” which created a “magical and subversive power and suggestion to give the audience vital energy to live in this world”28. From the magically assembled ‘sento’ (bath house), to the use of silk cloth (‘nami’) to represent the sea, or the tiny smoke-producing Mt Fuji, the Théâtre du Soleil likewise created a sense of wonder and subversion. The Japanised-French can be seen as another version of this, creating as it did wonder at the sense that you could and could not understand what was being said (or had you suddenly started speaking Japanese without noticing? “Japonais nous comprenons maintenant”?) whilst also leading to many comical scenes, allowing the company to embed the cultural dialogue happening in the production into the text itself. During the CRE-ACTORS workshop at the Cartoucherie, a sense of a collective imagination of imagery and characters had emerged. One of the criticisms often raised against intercultural theatre is the idea of ‘appropriating’ the cultures of others and repackaging them, or of thoughtlessly mixing elements from di erent traditions for a purely aesthetic and often exoticising motive. But both in the workshop and in L’ÎLE D’OR, it seemed clear that the theatre’s methodology would not allow for elements to be used simply as “set-dressing”. Asked in the workshop how di erent cultures can come together through their methodology, Vincent Mangado and Dominique Jambert responded that these multiple voices “come together through the proposals of each person”, and that they take time to “develop each situation”. In the production, actors spoke multiple languages, a combination of rst- and second- languages that placed each member of the troupe on equal footing, and almost every actor was “masked” via the layers of cloth used to cover their faces and disguise (but not totally) their features. This gave the company the freedom to play, without the need to be realistic or perfect - for example, the not-nude costumes used for the bath house scenes, the outlines of a Noh stage marked on the stage oor, and the ‘nihon-buyo’ style dance to “We’ll meet again” - and to use the prism of a festival happening on a small island in Japan to look at other issues, whilst also paying homage to a long artistic and personal connection. The haziness of the borders between di erent languages, di erent theatres and di erent countries suggested a group of people shipwrecked on a multicultural island - this time perhaps almost-Japan, but not necessarily always. In kyogen theatre, many of the plays begin with the line “koreha, kono atari no mono de gozaru” - “I am one who comes from around here”. In L’ÎLE D’OR, the Théâtre du Soleil presented the audience with a place where “here” is both a place of exile and welcome, somewhere both strange and familiar, a place where wonder interrupts what we think we know and asks us to think again.

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Emi Hamana, ‘Last Shakespeare Plays Directed by Yukio Ninagawa: Possessed by the power of theatre’, Journal of Literature and Art Studies, 7.3 (2017), 269-77 (276)

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Taher Baig in L’ÎLE D’OR (Théâtre du Soleil) Photo: Michèle Laurent

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LEPAGE AU SOLEIL An online discussion In 2018, the celebrated Canadian director Robert Lepage collaborated with the Théâtre du Soleil to produce KANATA: a work that imagined the meeting of Europeans with First Nations people of Canada over a period of two centuries. In an open letter published by Québec newspaper Le Devoir, a group of Indigenous actors, writers, activists and artists protested against the production's lack of Indigenous performers and authors, saying that they were fed up with "hearing other people tell our stories." The resulting debate led to the cancellation of all planned North American performances, although a version of the play was presented at the Cartoucherie in Paris, under the title KANATA, ÉPISODE 1: LA CONTROVERSE. In July 2021, CRE-ACTORS brought together Innu writer Maya Cousineau Mollen, one of the signatories to the letter of protest, with Soleil actors Vincent Mangado and Dominique Jambert, who played leading roles in KANATA, to re ect on the controversy surrounding the show. Attendees were encouraged to watch an online screening of the lm LEPAGE AU SOLEIL29 before joining. The online talk, presented in collaboration with the ORIGINS Festival, was attended by people across a wide range of countries both in Europe and the Americas, and explored important issues about intercultural theatre, relationships between Indigenous peoples and European cultures, and the working out of colonial legacies. The discussion was Chaired by Michael Walling. This is a heavily edited transcript of a discussion which lasted 75 minutes. *** Maya Cousineau Mollen (MCM): First of all I just want to be precise that I'm talking in my own name. I’m not here to represent a nation or any group. I'm here on my own and it's my great pleasure to talk about KANATA. I'm also a child of a survivor of a Residential School30.

Maya Cousineau Mollen

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We saw an article in Le Devoir talking about Théâtre du Soleil and Robert Lepage making a theatre piece about First Nations history, and we were like “We didn't hear about it what is that?” We were four women who gathered and started to talk about it, and started to write a letter, and started to look for people to sign it with us. It's because here in Canada we are so used to being pushed to the side, to being forgotten. We are not well represented in Canadian society. In the artistic media we don't see ourselves. In Québec there’s a lot of TV series and we don't see us in those series. We're not pictured as normal characters. When they do use us, it's always to show us as prostitutes, homeless people, drunk people… you know… It's always the bad image of First Nations. And when we saw that, we were shocked because we weren't consulted about it.

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The Residential Schools were institutions to which First Nations children were sent in order to remove them from their families and cultures. They were often very violent places: during 2021, several mass graves of children were uncovered at Residential School sites. In July 2022, Pope Francis made an apology for the role of the Catholic Church in the Residential School system.

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There's stu happening in theatre in Canada with First Nations. There are a lot of companies on the English Canada side and also on the Québec side there’s a few theatre troupes - so we were surprised to see that, and for us it was again the same story over and over again that our history will be told by people other than us. We can see now the consequences of that with the Residential School discoveries. People are not well informed, and we discover a dark chapter of Canada’s history. So we were a bit frustrated not to be consulted and also to try to understand the process of the making of KANATA. We didn't know that we would have this e ect in the media, because it was a huge e ect during the summer. Dominique Jambert (DJ): Maya, when you say you were really surprised that your letter became very huge and all the press and everybody took it… it was during the summer - and you know during the summer nothing happens! So they were very happy to have something. I think so! MCM: Our media constantly talked about this, and we saw how Québec actors were scandalised that we were attacking Robert Lepage because he's really appreciated in Québec! They accused us of censorship. When the letter went out in the media - two days afterwards we got a call from Ex Machina31, who wanted to meet with the group of First Nations people. So it was organised during the week after, so we were able to meet Ariane Mnouchkine, Robert Lepage and some of his collaborators. It was a big circle, like a Talking Circle, with the Indigenous tradition. We brought the Talking Stick, so if people want to speak they have to hold the Talking Stick and take the time they need to talk about their opinion. We didn't come to an agreement but at least we had shared our concerns with those people. But we never asked to cancel KANATA. We never asked for that. When we learned that it was cancelled, people were looking at us like we were the ones who cancelled it! Vincent Mangado (VM): It’s very important to say that it hasn't been cancelled, and that we were able to put the play on stage, although it has been a di erent way from how it was planned. MCM: I was invited to see the play at the Cartoucherie by an organisation in Paris called Décoloniser Les Arts32. I felt some pressure to have a certain opinion when I went there, but I am someone who always has an open mind and I don't like to be extreme in my opinion. So I went to see the play. But there was a lot of tension and stress around and so I didn't really have the time to enjoy, to observe, to listen, to talk with the people. It was okay as an account of Canadian history, and for sure if the Théâtre du Soleil had the chance to connect with the First Nations community, they would have had the chance to go further in the understanding of First Nations history, spiritual and social and everything, so for me it was a missed opportunity. I also went to the Théâtre du Soleil in December 2019 because I was working on a book and I was invited by Ariane to just come and spend some time at the Soleil and I accepted. It was my own decision to go there, because I wanted to understand what happened. When I got to know the people of the Théâtre du Soleil, something didn't work with what I heard, what I saw in the movie, and what Théâtre du Soleil was accused of. I felt “Something is wrong”. So I went to see on my own - to talk with people, to ask questions, and I came to understand that the way the Théâtre du Soleil work is that they go to a place and talk to the people they're interested in. They stay there and start to interact with the community, start to talk with them and learn about the culture and the history - and after that they work on the play. I asked 31

Ex Machina is the company led by Lepage in Québec City. https://exmachina.ca/

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https://blogs.mediapart.fr/decoloniser-les-arts

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Shaghayegh Beheshti & Vincent Mangado in KANATA (Théâtre du Soleil) Photo: Michèle Laurent

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some people “Why didn't you do that?” In the logical way of thinking they would do this in Québec because it's where the First Nations speak French, and most of the people of the Théâtre du Soleil speak French. So why were they going to parts of Canada where they speak English? They said that they were not the ones to decide, because it was Ex Machina that had the responsibility to connect with First Nations communities33. Michael Walling (MW): What I’m nding fascinating, Maya, is that not once have you mentioned the casting. Not once have you said “There were no Indigenous actors in the cast”, and yet all the press coverage, certainly in Europe, has been that that was the reason for the cancellation - that there were no First Nations actors involved in the piece and that it was perceived as “Red Face”. That doesn’t seem to be what you are saying. MCM: No. No. I think it was the decision of Ex Machina to cancel KANATA - KANATA in Canada. The theatre troupe in Québec were really swamped in projects and obligations and they knew that it was impossible to integrate the Théâtre du Soleil casting at such short notice. So we were aware of that, but we just wanted to bring awareness to non-Native people, to work with us, to start thinking, to make place for us, to make space for us. In a radio interview, I heard Robert Lepage saying that he and some of his collaborators made mistakes in this project. So I was happy to hear that, because for me the problem was not the Théâtre du Soleil: it was the way that Québec people see First Nations. DJ: It's not Ex Machina who cancelled the project in Canada. I think it's money. It's because of money and the lack of money because some people just withdrew from the project. MW: This was happening on the back of Ex Machina already having had to pull another show, which was SLAV: a show about slavery which had no black people in it. I suspect that it was this kind of coincidence of things that probably made people start to think that this was about the casting, in the same way that SLAV was. MCM: When SLAV happened, it was very “loud”. There were not riots, but loud protests. But what is interesting with the SLAV processes is that Robert Lepage afterwards took the time to go and sit with some leaders of the movement, to talk with them and try to understand the reality. So I was happy to hear that. I don't know where Robert is in his re ections about us, but I hope one day that we’ll be able to continue the dialogue again. Audience Member: Basically the problem is that white, middle-aged men in the arts take it upon themselves to tell stories on behalf of other people. They think it's their story to tell, and very often it just isn’t. People don't seem to be able to step back and interrogate themselves about their motives, about their principles, about their desires, about their aims and actually say to themselves “Is this my story to tell?” I don't have a beef with the actors because I think that there's a really authentic and wellmeaning intention - but Robert Lepage, clearly in his position, should have known that if he had done true research, he would have known that the Indigenous people in Canada are systematically erased and that he was just adding to that erasure by taking upon himself to tell stories on behalf of other people. I call it a colonialist mindset that they don't interrogate their own practice and ask themselves if it is their story to tell. MCM: When you start questioning yourself and your position you can say that you're starting the process of decolonising - to decolonise yourself. The dominant society of Canada is so used to think for us, to decide for us, because the Indian Act views us as kids, as a child, and 33

It was clear from the lm and other sections of the discussion that the Théâtre du Soleil and Ex Machina had in fact consulted extensively with First Nations, but that these discussions happened in Vancouver and other Anglophone parts of Canada.

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it's embedded into the society to see us as a non-mature people, that we're not adult enough to take our own decisions. Audience Member: I read piece that was published in 2018 in Le Devoir, and I was stunned and shocked by the words. I lived in Paris in the 1990s and I used to see all the shows at the Cartoucherie de Vincennes for years, and Ariane Mnouchkine is just amazing… So I was shocked by the intensity. Of course I can understand it, but I was shocked that somebody like Ariane could be under suspicion about the work she did. Again it's about context, I think being French, and in the French context things are very di erent. Also because people know about the kind of work that Ariane has been doing for years socially, politically, artistically. As you were saying Maya, you need space and time to give the context and to explain and I guess that's what you've been doing with Ariane, having that conversation and going to the Cartoucherie, working with the guys and all that. MW: Something that really struck me in the lm was that Robert, and I think also the actors in the Soleil, emphasised how their own backgrounds were being brought out or nding parallels through working with First Nations material. People were saying things like “It's just like my life in Afghanistan” or “I’m discovering something about my Brazilian background by working on this”. Robert says quite often that this makes it “universal” and I just wonder whether part of what's uncomfortable in this is that someone else's speci c is used to make something feel “universal”. The particular and the universal are at issue here. VM: During the process of rehearsing a play, of course at certain points we feel some meeting points with the character from our own experience. Whether this character is a Scotsman and a murderer, or a Danish Prince, or an Italian lover, or whoever. At a certain point, because we are actors, we use our own history, our own experience and we nd some meeting points. And of course, at another moment in the process, we have to nd the di erences and to forget our own identity and our own history to meet the character. It's just part of the process. MW: You say you have to forget your own identity in order to approach the character, and absolutely that is a way of looking at theatre - the way which is at the heart of the mask-based process of the Soleil, and one which is very valid. But there is also an approach to theatre where you don't get rid of yourself - where actually who you are is the key thing. And that's very prevalent in Indigenous Theatre, or Black Theatre, where people place their body on the stage to say “this is me”. I wonder if that sense of di erent forms of theatre and acting might be part of the misunderstanding which we're looking at here? VM: Probably. Probably. DJ: When we are our own instruments, when we are performing, when if I were a violinist or a guitarist I would play with an instrument… My body, because I am an actress, is my instrument. My voice is my instrument - my skin, my hair… So in this way, when I go on stage, I have to tell the story of somebody else - not mine because I think mine is not really interesting - but I will use my voice, I will use my body, I will use all of me to tell a story or to incarnate, to embody this person, this character. When this project was born, Ariane asked Robert to direct a play with the Théâtre du Soleil team. Robert was really honoured and thought about the story he wanted to tell. Because he is a storyteller, he’s a director. And he said “Probably we can do that with the Théâtre du Soleil. We can do this story.” So we tried to tell the story of Canada from outside and with our eyes. New eyes. Some of us knew about Canada but some knew nothing, and that's how it began. So I just say that because someone said that it's again and again the white men who are always telling a story… But I'm sorry, he is from Canada. So even if it's a very hard story, even if the history of this country is really di cult and was hidden for many years, now nally people

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know more and more about what happened, about the horror. Maya told me that there are marches responding to the mass graves: people are walking in the street. It's not to celebrate, it’s to be together, to think about what happened with these horrible things that they've discovered. So I think that really is the beginning of a process. It’s a very important moment I think - very important. MCM: I just want to share with you that I'm really happy that we can talk peacefully about this issue. During that summer - it was already a hot one! - there was a great anger against people, against France. I remember when people started to know that I was writing to Ariane, some people started to see me as a traitor. And it was really funny that both sides, from the French side and some people from the First Nations side, were saying that Ariane was using me to get a good image of herself. It was like a challenge, where you have to choose: you are with me or against me. I hope that with time people will calm down and see things in a more philosophical way.

Martial Jacques & Dominique Jambert in KANATA (Théâtre du Soleil) Photo: Michèle Laurent

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“Cambiare si può!… Bisogna andare oltre. Bisogna avere visione.…. Non è una scelta ma un obbligo morale. C’è ancora molto da fare. Il percorso è lungo e irto di ostacoli ma siamo certi di poter contare ancora una volta sulla forza del cambiamento e dei diritti umani perché crediamo nei valori e nello stato di diritto.” [Change is possible!… We have to go further. We have to have vision….. It is not a choice but a moral obligation. There is still a lot to do. The path is long and full of obstacles but we are sure that we can once again count on the power of change and human rights because we believe in values and the rule of law.] (Yvan Sagnet - Cameroonian activist living in Italy) “Il teatro toglie la vigliaccheria del vivere, toglie la paura del diverso, dell’altro, dell’ignoto, della vita, della morte”. [Theatre takes away the cowardice of living, it takes away the fear of the diverse, of the other, of life, of death.] (Leo De Berardinis - Italian actor and director)

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2. BOLOGNA • ABC - Teatro dell’Argine • Introduction to the Teatro dell’Argine • Intercultural Devising Practices: Bologna Training Nicola Bonazzi, Micaela Casalboni, and Andrea Paolucci • A Re ection from The Fence - Jonathan Meth • Teatro dell’ Argine and The Legacy of Babel Edward Bromberg (The Fence) • Cantieri Meticci - Theatre in a Supermarket

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“I am cautious with stories that are too personal. Our theatre transposes and ctionalises, to make the personal and the intimate universal. However, with some groups, it may be necessary to leave space for personal stories, as with my experience with Good Chance Theatre, and the start of the CARAVANSERAI rehearsals.” (Vincent Mangado)

Richard Djagoung, Celestine Fuh & Diana Natacha Wabei in CANDIDO O L’OTTIMISMO (Teatro dell’Argine)

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Photo: Luciano Paselli


ABBECEDARIO - TEATRO DELL’ARGINE Attrito

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Per resistere agli urti, resistere ai colpi, resistere insomma

Bagaglio Che te lo devi portare dietro, imparando a scartare, selezionare le cose

Creta Perché il mondo bisogna plasmarlo

Diritti Che sono di tutti

Empatia Che mi metto nei panni dell’altro, e provo a capirlo

Facile Come sarebbe facile, se non fosse così di cile

Giovani I loro sogni, i loro pensieri

Hotel Stare sulla terra come di passaggio

Insieme Perché la somma fa più della sottrazione

Libertà Grande come la Statua ma sempre in movimento

Memoria Ricordare per ricostruire Listen to the Abbecedario at https://bit.ly/3gEDgH3 59

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Nero Che è un colore tra tanti e non il contrario del bianco

Occasione Concedersi il lusso di poterle sprecare

Politica Qualcuno se la ricorda?

Quando Quando viene il mio momento?

Responsabilità Se tutti fossero responsabili di tutto

Sogno Sognare di fare bei sogni

Terra E’ da lì che iniziano le cose

Uomo Ed è lì che le cose si tengono

Verde Alberi nei palazzi, Palazzi negli alberi, Respirare un’aria nuova

Zelo (Se qualcuno avesse detto zelo, avrebbe fatto la sua porca gura)

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ABC - TEATRO DELL’ARGINE Attrito / Friction To resist shocks, To resist hits, To resist, yeah

Baggage That you need to bring with you, learning to discard, select things

Clay Because the world has to be shaped

Diritti / Rights That belong to everybody

Empathy That I put myself in the shoes of the other, And I try to understand him/her

Facile / Easy How easy could it be, If it weren’t di cult

Giovani / Youth Their dreams, their thoughts

Hotel To be on Earth just like guests

Insieme / Together Because the sum makes more than the subtraction

Liberty As big as the Statue but always in motion

Memory Remember to build

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“We are made di erent, because we are poetry” Photo: Dominique Jambert

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Nero / Black That is a colour among the others and not opposite to white

Occasione / Chance It would be a luxury to waste them

Politics Does anybody remember it?

Quando / When When will my time arrive?

Responsibility What if everybody was responsible for everything?

Sogno / Dream To dream to make sweet dreams

Terra / Earth (and also Ground) From there everything originates

Uomo / Man(kind) And here everything consists

Verde / Green Trees in the buildings, Buildings in the trees, To breathe a new air

Zeal (If anybody had said “zeal”, they would have made a terri c impression)

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TEATRO DELL’ARGINE Who we are The Teatro dell’Argine was founded in 1994 in San Lazzaro di Savena (Bologna) around an artistic and cultural project addressed to the whole community. Along the years, the company has become point of reference both in Italy and abroad not only on the artistic level (Italian Critics’ Award 2006, 2015, 2017; Hystrio Award 2009; Camillo Grandi Award 2012; Nico Garrone Award 2015; Eolo Award 2018; Rete Critica Award 2021; Ubu Award 2011, 2015, 2020-21), but also for the creation and implementation of projects where theatre is made available for intercultural, social and educational contexts. Nowadays, the Teatro dell’Argine is engaged not only in the creation and touring of shows, but also in theatre workshops for professionals and non-professionals; special projects involving people of di erent ages, genders, cultures, abilities, background, experiences, in theatrical and non-theatrical contexts and actions; the direction of artistic and social spaces and venues; networks and exchanges fostered with cross-sectoral and transdisciplinary organisations and institutions; processes, activities and events of participatory, interactive, itinerant, site-speci c theatre, both locally and abroad. Mission The artistic quality is fed by the dialogue with the local community and by international exchanges, and focuses on the strong issues of our contemporary world. Intercultural and intergenerational dialogue, active citizenship and rights, social and cultural inclusion, memory and a constant re ection on present time produce the need and desire to develop di erent and innovative ways in art, culture and even in management. To follow the route towards these goals means to pursue a multidisciplinary and intercultural theatre, endowed with high social value and essential artistic quality. A new theatre, well rooted in the urban fabric, looking straight into the eyes of the world. Actions 1.

shows: creation and touring of theatre, children’s theatre, tout public and participatory performances and shows; venues: artistic direction of ITC Teatro di San Lazzaro, ITC Studio (for artistic workshops and rehearsals), Teatrobus (a multifunctional mini-venue) and ITC Lab (circus tent for workshops and events); workshops and seminars with thousands of people of all ages, genders, cultures, abilities, background, experiences in clubs, theatres, schools, universities, but also prisons, hospitals, reception centres; special projects, international, transdisciplinary, intercultural, intergenerational, towards cultural accessibility and social inclusion. Some examples:

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Lampedusa Mirrors (2014-2015), a Tunisian-Italian project to talk about migration and prejudice with teens and young, and to train young professionals to work in deprived areas; Esodi (2015-2019), involving teenagers and young aged 15 to 25 coming from all over the world including Italy in theatre workshops, performances, events;

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• • •

Acting Together #WithRefugees (2017-2018, with UNHCR), to involve and include asylum seekers and refugees through artistic actions, to train social and educational workers to use artistic tools in their work, to create a network that facilitates the exchange of skills and mutual learning and assistance among local and national organisations and individuals working with refugees; The Promised Land, an international cross-sectoral Erasmus Plus project on the role of arts and culture in the inclusion of migrants and refugees; Per Aspera Ad Astra (since 2019), a national network project for the professional training and the right to arts of prison inmates; Politico Poetico (2019-2021), involving 500 teenagers in workshops and events of theatre and advocacy around the UN Agenda 2030 for sustainable development.

“I use di erent kinds of prompts for telling stories, and I use exercises where people bring an object, tell a story of that object and as we move on others incorporate parts of that story into their stories about their objects. Receive -> re package and re-imagine and return. A participatory theatre that is continually reciprocal in a dynamic circulation of stories and ideas. But oh, how I have been replenished with new ways of doing this!! I LOVED what TDA did. It was so wonderful, strong, and it creates the most beautiful sense of common ownership of the stories. AMORE AMORE AMORE!” (Hanna Slättne)

Yoro Bailo Barry & Nicola Bonazzi THE ART OF DIALOGUE by Teatro dell’Argine

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“I loved the ability to recognise ourselves in the diversities, while safeguarding them. This for me is real integration.” (Paolo Fronticelli)

Micaela Casalboni leads a workshop for THE ART OF DIALOGUE 66

Photo: Davide Saccà


INTERCULTURAL DEVISING PRACTICES - Bologna training by Nicola Bonazzi, Micaela Casalboni & Andrea Paolucci (Teatro dell’Argine) Day 1 Let’s Get to Know each Other Although most of the participants already knew each other from the Paris session, it was very important to welcome the newly arrived ones and re-discover the group feeling and openness for working together through theatre, after almost one year. The need to establish trust, positive energy and good humour is so important, both when working with theatre professionals and with non-professionals. Many exercises of this training course have the characteristic of gradually growing from game, to exercise, to play, to creation. Introductions Sitting in a circle, everyone introduces him/herself by saying: name, who I am and what I do in the organization I belong to, one word to de ne myself, one sentence to say what is “theatre” to me. Everyone is told to be precise and remember what s/he said. Themes The Teatro dell’Argine introduces the themes and some keywords of our days together. In France, we worked starting from THE TEMPEST by William Shakespeare, and particularly on the archetype of the island; in Italy, we will work on the Island of Theatre. In Ingmar Bergman’s movie FANNY AND ALEXANDER, theatre is de ned as “The Little World”, as opposed to “The Big World” outside. Theatre is a mirror and a door, a microcosm that can be separate from the rest and, when needed, it can protect ourselves from the world outside. At the same time, it can be a powerful tool to launch ourselves into the world out there, and take and give voice and tools to urgent themes and to the people who inhabit it. In other words, theatre can be a safe and Third Space35, while providing (also literally!) a stage to amplify, know, discuss and show situations, issues, relationships from our contemporary times. Warm-Up and Group Building 1.

One script, di erent emotions Everybody stands up in a circle and has to quickly think to a short version of the individual presentation they made before: e.g., “Micaela, actress, multitasking, theatre is meeting the other”. Now this line becomes my script, and I have to go to another person in the circle and communicate a strong emotion or state of mind by just using these words and my body: fear, joy, alarm, sadness, laugh, seduction, anger, sleep and so on. The words stay the same but I have to convey all of this to the person I chose. S/he then goes to another one in the circle and so on.

See Homi K. Baba, The Location of Culture, London, Routledge 2004

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2. Name and gesture In the circle, now that the atmosphere is warm, music is played and we’re all invited to go to the centre one by one and present ourselves through our name and a gesture associated to it. Both exercises are helpful to very quickly establish a playful and funny atmosphere, where everybody is equal, no matter if they are experienced in theatre or not; to use body and voice fully; to start learning the names of everybody in the room easily through the repetition; and to discover the transformative power of theatre on ourselves and the others. Should the group involve people who don’t share the same language, the rst exercise can easily be adapted through demonstration/imitation, in order to be played in the di erent languages of the participants, or without any language except for the name. Structures and Methodologies for Devising Scenes The Monoexercise - Part 1 The group is divided into 4 subgroups of 4/5 people, preferably very diverse in make-up. The guide or workshop leader gives all the groups a few strict parameters: -

Title Rule Time to prepare

Title: Perpetual motion Rule: Each scene must last 10 seconds Time to prepare: 5 minutes After each piece is presented to the whole group, the guide may give feedback, ask questions, or propose a change in the scene structure or design. When working with non-professionals, how the guide gives feedback is important. They should not o er judgement as they might with professional companies: the objectives are to learn while enjoying, in an organic way; to establish trust; and to help the participants perceive the “magic” of theatre. The exercise allows collaboration without forcing all the group members to be exposed as actors: they can choose to take part only in the creation phase if they prefer. The exercise is then repeated with variations in the title, rule or time to prepare and even in the subgroup composition. e.g. Title: Martin Rule: the characters must be objects; 3 mins max. duration Time to prepare: 10 minutes Cantieri Meticci Day 1 ended with an introduction to the work of Associate Partner Cantieri Meticci. See p.94-8.

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Day 2 Us and the Space: Relationships, Role Play, Power Relations Warm-Up 1.

Massage in pairs Make couples, standing. In turns, one partner claps and massages the other one, using an energetic but respectful touch, starting from the shoulders, then going down to the feet, then up again, nishing over the head and with a “shower” (a rapid movement collecting and discharging all the energy from the body down to the ground). All the couples do the whole massage at the same time, as a chorus.

2. Walking in space 2.1. Walks, rhythms and tasks We all walk in space, while the guide gives some rhythm variations and stops/tasks. Rhythms go from 0 (stop) to 10 (go as fast as you can without running). Take care of the space, keep it full without crowding or leaving empty spaces. Keep the same rhythm all together. The shifts from one rhythm to another become quicker and more di cult, e.g. from 8 to 1 to 8 again. The changes have to be applied immediately, without thinking.

“We start with a game in the space where we are given commands and during our walk, together, we have to react in di erent ways to each signal. For a moment my name left its original meaning that it had held for all my life. The command was for everyone to look at me when “Amanda" was said, and I, instead of my usual habit of looking immediately at where the call came from, needed to look at the door. This order put the concrete idea I had of my own name into a di erent perception.” (Amanda Tedesco)

Richard Djagoung in CANDIDO O L’OTTIMISMO (Teatro dell’Argine)

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The guide gradually inserts more and more tasks: - when I say “up”, everybody stops and looks up; - when I say “down”, everybody stops and looks down; - when I say “ground”, everybody on the ground; - when I say “jump”, everybody jumps (all at the same time); - when I say e.g., “Amanda”, all look at Amanda and Amanda looks at the door; - when I say “centre”, all wants to be in the right centre of the space; - when I say “power”, one person moves to the centre, the others move to one end, the two blocks look at each other; - while walking, think of one thing you like and of one you don’t like – in one word. - when I say “proscenio”, one comes to the front and says his/her name and what s/he likes and doesn’t like; the rest keep moving; - when I say “groups of 1, 2, 3, 4… 10” – organise yourselves quickly in the required groups. If someone is left, they continue to walk; - when I say “hug”, all go and hug an appointed person, e.g., Stella. Very useful exercise to: - learn how to deal with our body in a shared space with others; - how to be together and at the same time very focused on ourselves to execute tasks; - keep the energy high. 2.2. Walks and looks Now the guide invites each participant to choose the rhythm s/he prefers. After a while, the guide invites each person to nd the eyes of another. When this happens, they must x their eyes on them and keep looking at them; they still have to maintain the system, but without ever breaking eye contact. The partners in the couple can change rhythms either individually or as a couple; they can come closer or further away; they can go on the ground, run, jump - but they cannot touch. The guide puts some music on, according to where she wants to take the group or according to the general atmosphere that the participants are slowly suggesting (playful, romantic, dramatic, con ictual…). The guide invites the couple to explore this relationship: what is it? Is it a game, a chase, a farewell? Soon stories start to emerge from all the couples. She invites them to build on this and announces that when the music stops, they can run and hug each other. This is a team-building exercise, and an exercise leading the team to become a Chorus.

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Structures and Methodologies for Devising Scenes The Raft Two actors are on opposite sides of a large circle. One is a leader, and the other follows, at least at the beginning. The circular space is like a raft: it needs to be in balance, otherwise it will overturn. So, if an actor moves one way, the other must balance going the other way. They have to be very precise in that: they have to look at each other, keep the same distance and stay on the circle, but they may change: rhythm, speed or direction. Music is played, and a story emerges, without using any words, facial expressions or unusual body postures: only through rhythms, breaths, looks, and relationship. The guide invites the performers to take the story to its climax, and to gradually nd an ending, even breaking the circle. Possible variations on this structure are: 1.

sounds or language: the two actors are given the possibility to use sounds or language.

2. characters: the system starts as before, with the two actors going in the circle with a neutral walk, playing with just rhythm, speed, look and direction; but then the guide assigns them characters, e.g., “Now you are Prospero and you are Miranda”, or “You are Caliban and you are Prospero”, or “You are Miranda and you are Caliban”.

In this variation, it is very important that actors take their time to explore the neutral moment, before they go into the character, in order to build it organically, and not as a mask put on arti cially. 2.1. characters with choruses: each one of the two actors/characters is assigned a chorus: e.g., three people are behind Miranda and three people are behind Caliban.

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They follow their coryphaeus36 being physically very close to him/her. To start, the guide gives a simple structure to the actors: • Caliban makes a gesture or movement while saying a word or a short sentence • Caliban’s chorus repeats what he’s done and said • Miranda answers by making a gesture or movement while saying a word or a short sentence • Miranda’s chorus repeats what she’s done and said. This is primarily an exercise in collaboration and listening. It helps to create new scenes, perhaps but not necessarily inspired by existing texts, either speechless or with language, or using as many languages as the people in the room. Since many di erent people are leading in turn, many di erent styles, genres, forms and ideas can come up and be ampli ed by the chorus. Who Are We? What do We Want to Explore Together? Interviews and lists of keywords Three guides from Teatro dell’Argine led interview sessions with the French, Irish and with Swedish teams. The aim of these interviews is getting to know those organisations deeply, in a more intimate way than what is written on their website. Questions revolve around their activities and philosophy, of course, but also around what keeps them together; what makes them love their work and what makes them angry with it; what is the nicest memory or anecdote they can tell and what is the worst one; what they already have and what is missing. Finally, after a long interview (at least 2 hours), the three groups are asked to nd some keywords that sum up who they are as a group,: one for each letter of the alphabet. This material was used to create the ABC of each partner, presented on the nal day. This approach was used for LE PAROLE E LA CITTÀ (The Words and the City), 2014.37 Teatro dell’Argine interviewed 100 organisations in the Bologna metropolitan area. The interviews were used to write an Abbecedario (ABC) for each of them, a sort of poetic identity card of the organization; and to write a short radio-drama translating that identity into performance. The Monoexercise - Part 2 One of the most fruitful variations of the Monoexercise consists in giving the di erent subgroups di erent titles that can be related to one another, so that all the scenes can be developed into one play. For CRE-ACTORS we had four subgroups, and used: Titles: Birth, Growth, Ageing, Death Rule: the same for all subgroups: your stage is the top of a white stool (30x30cm) Time to prepare: 15 minutes Possibility: you can place the audience wherever you want them.

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Greek - Chorus leader

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https://teatrodellargine.org/progetti/le-parole-e-la-citt

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“I especially remember the challenge we had, when it was proposed that we create an improvisation where everything happens on a stool. Often on a personal level, when I think of a new creation I always get lost in the space I imagine, huge spaces with great scenery, and giant puppets, ... doing the exercise of concentrating everything on a stool, makes me focus more on what I want to explain and not so much on how I want to explain it, so extract the spectacular part of it and focus on the content. I think it will always be easier to move from a stage like a stool to the immensity of an open space, than the other way around.” (Xevi Ribas)

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Day 3 Me, Us, Who Am I, Who Are We: Let’s Share Warm Up The Mirror Exercise: classic and corridor versions - Part 1 This very well-known exercise is perfect as a warm up and can also be developed to become a Chorus scene. The group is divided into pairs; in each pair one is the leader, the other follows; then they exchange. Music is played, and the couple start to move, mirroring each other: same movement, with the same feeling and at the same time, as if it was choreographed before. They are encouraged to go on exploring not only di erent movements, but also di erent rhythms and positions in space. -

First, the exercise is done with the couples moving freely around the space.

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Then, when the couples have trained for a while, they all get on 2 lines that face each other: again with music, they start to move by mirroring each other.

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They can also move in space as before, but they have to maintain the central corridor made by their lines. And so, they have to be very focused and negotiate not only with their partner in the couple, but also with the other couples, when to move, which direction, how they can eventually mix their movements with those of other couples and so on.

When it’s nished, the guide asks the group to keep this exercise in mind, because it will be used later to build up something together. This “surprise” element can be very interesting, as the group gets the feeling of having learned tools that then they can use to generate a new output, like ingredients for a recipe or alphabet letters that make di erent words. Structures and Methodologies for Devising Scenes The Monoexercise - part 3 Time is dedicated to responding to the 4 creations of the day before and transforming them into a single performance. The groups are rst given feedback by the guide on their speci c scene, then the guide alights 3-4 elements that worked well and that could be used by the 4 groups as common elements to link their scenes together: e.g. one participant sang beautifully in one scene, so those of you who want/need a soundtrack for their scene, will have her singing live. Other hints include: try to use the same props or pieces of the set, so that the general aesthetic is similar; try to put the audience in the same position for all 4 scenes, and so on. The guide alternates propositions and dispositions: in order to give freedom along with rules and challenges to the participants, some indications must be followed, others are choices made by the subgroup. Having sessions on this exercise across the week is also a choice: giving the time to re ect and digest the learning acquired is important, as well as getting con dent with the whole group and with the theatrical tools explored. Especially when working with non-professionals, this gradual growth is an important part of an organic teaching and learning process.

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What do you see with blindfolded eyes? The group is in a circle. One person is in the middle with their eyes closed. S/he walks and when s/he reaches someone at the edge of the circle, s/he is turned and gently pushed back into the centre or towards another part of the circle. The people receiving and directing the walker must be respectful and take care of them. The blindfolded walkers are meant to experience how it is to trust that the group will take care of them, and just go. After a while the blindfolded walkers are asked some questions: what do you see? Where is your next journey taking you? Tell us a dream and a fear. While they answer, they continue to be moved around the group. The questions will be di erent according to who is the person walking: if s/he is con dent or scared; if s/he starts inventing something complex and we want to develop this. So, the journey in the circle may be shorter or longer according to this, and it can bring to very di erent results. Usually, all the people in the group are asked to experience this, in turn, if they are willing to do so. When the level of trust and skill has increased, the blindfolded walkers in the circle can be two or three at the same time. The Monoexercise - part 4: individual creation starting from personal objects Before the start of the training course, the group had been asked to bring four things that are signi cant for them in some way: -

A piece of music A photo A quote An object

Now they are asked to work individually, and prepare a scene including all four items. They have 10 mins to prepare it. It can last between 10 secs and 3 mins – 2 mins would be the perfect duration. They can use any form, style, genre they like: it can be speechless; it can focus on one of the four items more and just quote the others; it can be a simple narration or a dance piece… Whatever. The whole group is told that, when they watch others, they have to pay very careful attention to gestures, words, atmospheres and notice and write down what catches their attention, because they will be asked to work on them later. Then we all watch each piece, and at the end we have a little exchange on what struck us most. The guide tells everybody to choose and start reproducing those gestures, atmospheres and images that struck them most powerfully. In Bologna, one of the participants, who was not there on the preceding day, is asked to write down images, words or sentences that catch her attention. She composes the images, words and sentences that she noted down as she likes. The result is a sort of a poem.

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Why don’t we? Since the last time Imprints from the past Wanted di erently

Why be a princess if you can be a pirate It’s already nished? The music?

The true quintessential A lonely shore Agony of the sea

I have to go Quite boring paradise La resistance La prochaine revolution

Fighting to retain the dignity of a man in a boy’s body Look closely

We can hug again

Vision of a future

Flight

So much love for them I didn’t feel lonely there I have an apple here but imagine it’s an orange It’s so fucking orange I feel I have to own my regrets

How do we meet each other? Filled with wonder Mio padre A madness of an expedition La prochaine destination

The early days of a better nation

(Debbie Seymour)

Occasionally you stop Trying to make connections I used to collect people Everywhere there’s people missing

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The guide asks the group to get into 2 lines that face each other: they are asked to play the Mirror Exercise in the corridor version learned yesterday, but this time to move in ways inspired by gestures and atmospheres encountered during the Monoexercise-part 4. Music is played: what we see is a moving corridor, with people on the two sides mirroring gestures and feelings belonging to the very personal pieces invented individually. When the collective movement gets to a climax, the guide asks the participant who composed the “poem” to slowly walk in the corridor, from the back to the front of the stage, reading it out loud to an imaginary audience. When she nishes, she is at the front: the other participants gradually come to a halt. Day 4 Memories of Lockdown Origins and aims The whole 4th day is dedicated to exploring a process about the memories from the Covid-19 lockdown that the Teatro dell’Argine made with a group of 28 boys and girls from a Bolognese high school. The CRE-ACTORS group experience all the steps practically. The Covid period was very tough and restrictive in Italy. Restrictions particularly hit boys and girls in secondary schools, aged between 14 and 18, who experienced online schooling for almost two entire school years, with signi cant consequences both for their education and their psychological status and relational skills. The Historical Institute Parri in Bologna conducted interviews on that period with this group, then asked Teatro dell’Argine to dig deeper with them. TdA proposed a workshop where they could work on the same questions and memories, but starting from their bodies, emotions and relationships. Step 1: My Favourite Room When the participants enter, the space has been set up with chairs and stools put in many di erent positions and combinations, in order to make people imagine di erent possible separate corners. The guide invites them to take paper and a pen, to walk around the space using di erent rhythms and directions, and then to nd their individual place. She asks them to imagine that that spot is their favourite room during the rst Covid lockdown in 2020: she invites them to imagine it precisely as it is, in a very detailed way. -

What’s in my room? What’s missing from my room (especially during lockdown)? What is essential and MUST be there? What do I nd oppressive in my room?

The guide then picks up randomly people in the room and asks them one or two or all the questions: they can answer by reading what they wrote, or just by telling, or with a combination of the two ways. After that, they have 5-10 minutes to write down a little story, inspired by what they have heard from others, or inspired by their own story, but seen from the point of view of another protagonist (their cat, their kids, their neighbour, their partner…).

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Step 2: Umbrella stories The guide distributes nine umbrellas among the participants. Those who have umbrellas choose a spot in the space where they stand or sit. It can also be their favourite room, but they have to make space for at least one more person. The rest of the group walk around the umbrellas/houses: these are the “citizens”. The umbrella holders nd a way to invite the citizens under their umbrella: they tell them their story, then the citizens walk again until another umbrella invites them. After a while, they swap: umbrella holders become citizens and vice versa. The exercise is wonderful to create a sense of intimacy between the storyteller and the listener, and it creates curiosity in those who are wandering around. Seen from the outside, the umbrellas make this collective creation also beautiful to watch: it looks like an umbrella wood, with smiling people inhabiting it.

“Covid was used as stimulus, simple, something we had all experienced yet all in a unique way. We were taken on slowly crafted, simple steps which allowed each person to develop some ideas, share ideas with the group, then create their own story. This enabled everyone in the room to have a voice - but to have emotional distance from it, making it possible to share. This is a great technique for work with vulnerable people. The process is collective and individual. Sharing the nal stories under umbrellas also creates intimacy and atmosphere as well as not being too exposing.” (Lucy Dunkerley)

“I was touched that we worked on the memory of the Lockdown, which was something that united everyone. The work of writing: which starts from a personal narration, which in the process of telling becomes something else: transformed, transposed - keeping the temporal references but avoiding voyeurism. For me - it’s one of the things that struck me - how the collective imaginary can be built: more precisely, how we can enrich a common imaginary, starting from personal images.” (Dominique Jambert)

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“I have learned that everyone is able to write a story with a small amount of time. It reminded me of school when I was a child. We were playing outside during the break and in 15 minutes we were able to create extraordinary stories. Of course working with di erent cultures teaches me the truth of everyone’s reality in the world. Being able to write, to feel the power of writing, allows us to organise the mind.” (Alice Milléquant)

Step 3: What do I see from my window? The participants go back to their favourite room and to the same situation as in Step 1, with pen and paper. The guide gives them 5 more questions to answer: -

What do you see from your window? What would you like to see? What do you do when you are at the window? I need my window to let … enter I need my window to let … go out

These new answers are quickly shared within the group, then the stories written before can be readapted to insert these window details. The guide brings some window frames in the space: they are very simple square or rectangular frames, made in cardboard, also reminiscent of Zoom windows… They can be used to transform the participants’ stories into theatre scenes in two ways: 1.

The competition. Five actors each hold a window in front of their face on stage; the rest of the group is the audience. Each of the ve really need to tell their story, and they want to convince the audience that their story is the best one. And so, one at a time, they run towards the audience and start to talk. When another one comes to the front, the rst has to go back. The ve swap continuously: they are eager to tell, the energy level (and the fun) is very high.

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This rst structure is very useful when working with non-professionals: having a quick rhythm and high energy helps them to overcome shyness; prevent them to think and judge themselves; keep them in the action. 2. The carousel. Five actors with the window make a circle facing outwards. Everyone else is around them in a larger circle, watching. Background music is played. The ve in the inner circle start to slowly turn around. Each of them tells his/her story to the person they have in front in that moment. Many variations are possible: only one in the inner circle is speaking while the others are just watching out from their window in a contemplative mood; all ve are speaking at the same time, and so should nd a way to be understood by using a proper volume; they can whisper the story together, and the audience would just get some words, and an atmosphere; they can tell it to the audience, by looking at them in the eyes, or they can tell it as if the audience wasn’t there, and so on.

Step 4: The Post-Its (I have to remember/I must not forget) A lot of Post-It blocks of many di erent colours and dimensions are spread on the oor together with coloured markers. The participants are asked to write sentences that start with “I have to remember” and with “I must not forget”, always somehow related to the Covid lockdown period; one sentence per each sheet, as many sentences as they want. After this, the group is divided into two: half of the participants line on one side, the others line on the opposite side. Recalling the Italian kids’ game “rubabandiera”, the guide assigns a number to each facing couple. Then the guide stands in the middle and calls one number at a time. So, when she calls number 3, the corresponding couple runs to the centre; the quickest person in the couple reads 2 sentences, one starting with “I have to remember”, one starting with “I must not forget”, and sticks the Post-Its on her/himself; the other one makes the same, then they go back into their line and the guide calls another number. After a while, when the participants have become familiar with the game, they can also be left alone in dealing with the rhythm, being very careful in not overlapping. At the end the bodies of all the participants are covered by colourful post-its, placed in as many di erent ways as the people in the room.

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Day 5 Storytelling and Sharing Warm Up Walking in space with vowels and improvised storytelling All the participants walk in the space following the basic rules and rhythms given on Day 2. Chairs and stools are dotted around the space the same way they were yesterday. More tasks are added: - when the guide says A, jump; - when the guide says E, turn 180°; - when the guide says I, slap your thighs twice; - when the guide says O, stop; - when the guide says go go, nd a chair and sit down. Whoever is left standing must tell a story for one minute (timed). The required story can be: • in the 1st person; • in the 3rd person; • as though the protagonist was (e.g.) Alice in Wonderland or one group member; • other variations. The Train Set 1st part The participants are invited to go back to their favourite room, as yesterday. The guide tells them that, when they enter their room, there is a gift awaiting them. He invites them to unwrap it: it is a train set. He invites them to take out all the pieces and create the entire structure of the landscape through which their train is going to pass. Until here, the exercise is based on creative imagination and precision: not only the participants have to imagine some composition, but they have to physically “do as if” the train set was there, putting all the pieces, xing things, and remembering clearly how it looks. In this rst part, the exercise is played individually. 2nd part When they’ve nished, the guide invites them to lift it up and stand with the train set in their hands. They are invited to move around the space with their train: when they meet someone, they must tell and listen from one another a detailed description of their train and how wonderful it is. Then, they exchange trains, and start to walk again. When they meet someone else, they must exchange trains again, but this time, they must tell the story of the train they have received, not of their original one. The game goes on for several exchanges in the room, ideally, until somebody receives its original train back, but it can stop before or go on according to the participants’ reactions. The exercise requires a lot of concentration and at the same time it can be very funny and poetic. Of course, as the train set passes from hand to hand, inevitably, its story and description changes. The point is that we need to take

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The Monoexercise - Part 5: using only one kind of object for the entire creation The guide divides the group in 4 subgroups of 4/5 people. Then, he gives each group a di erent module to create, in this case: - 9 umbrellas - 10 cardboard frames - 6 long pieces of white textiles - 6 suitcases Rule: use only these objects as props and scenography. Time to prepare: 5 minutes Duration required: 2 minutes The exercise is very useful for imagination: suitcases can be used as such, but they can also be big bricks to build a wall, or beds to sleep in, or shields to protect oneself in the battle and so on. It’s also nice to use this methodology when working in very deprived contexts, where not many things are available as in big theatres, but maybe everybody has an umbrella or some pieces of textiles at home.

“In the dark I saw two or three people who, torches in hand, were nishing the tour of the small altars we had built for them. I don’t know who they were. The play of light and shadow allowed me to see the silhouette of three bodies. French? Irish? Men? Women? It was not important, but for a moment I felt I was in the way, and I went out leaving the three alone in that silence, broken only by the stories that came out of their earphones.” 82

(Andrea Paolucci)

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care of what is given to us, and only if we listen very carefully, we can preserve (most of) it.


The Final Surprise: The CRE-ACTORS Theatrical Installation Teatro dell’Argine decided to make a gift to the CRE-ACTORS group: an installation to express both the individual personalities and creations, and the spirit, philosophy and action of each organisation. A “surprise” was announced in the programme, but not revealed in detail. A few elements were combined to prepare the installation: -

the interviews and keywords, collected on Day 2 from the partners, were written by a TdA playwright in the form of an “Abbecedario”: a sort of poem or monologue.

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the umbrella stories, written and recorded by participants, were edited with music.

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the personal items brought by participants (music, quote, picture, object) were printed, written down or used as concrete elements for the installation.

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a photo of each participant, taken during the Bologna course, was chosen and printed. ACT 1 - The Abbecedari Each abbecedario was played in turn, with the participants from the relevant company seated on stage, watched by the others. ACT 2 - The individual portrait installations In half darkness, small installations have been prepared, using chairs and stools as pedestals. Each of them is dedicated to a group member, composed of the portrait picture, personal items, and umbrella story. Each audience member has received the stories on WhatsApp and listens through earphones. The low light and the torch allow the audience to slowly discover this space, which is collective and at the same time personal. Fine. Applausi.

Performances like this, which are on the border between installation, theatre, art exhibition, even though built in a very short time, even though not perfectly re ned, can be a great community gift. Each member of the community has brought some contributions, the local artists have received these materials, reworked them and given them back to the community renewed, transformed, with a new dress, but bearing all the original meanings and strength.

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Eccola che arriva! Eccola che arriva! È un’ora diversa, oggi. Mmm … Deve essere successo qualcosa. Si è vestita: Bene. È una vita che qui si vedono quegli altri due sempre in pigiama. Gulp. Dov’è? Dov’è? No no no no no…Oh Yes! Ha trovato il detersivo per la lavatrice. Piace un sacco anche a me. Il verde della parete e l’odore di sapone alla lavanda mi fa sentire come se fossi fuori, all’aperto. Mi piacerebbe andare fuori. Se potessi muovermi, dico. Non c’è modo. Resterò qui ben attaccato. Al muro, per essere precisi. Ma a parte tutto, non c’è male. La mia giornata, dico, non c’è davvero male. (Ida Strizzi)

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A REFLECTION FROM THE FENCE by Jonathan Meth Having recently made the decision to move with her family to Sweden - writer, dramaturg, academic and Fence network member Duška Radosavljević Krojer explores the role that improvisation can play… “The Latin roots of the word ‘improvisation’ – im-pro-visation – literally imply the impossibility of fore-seeing the outcome. Improvisation may take place in music or theatre when the performer goes o script or pre-written score so to respond to the moment with a personal impulse. Improvisation is common in jazz or dance where it can often take on a collective form – ensemble members ri ng o of each other. It is a creative practice present in theatre too although the predominance of the script in the 20th century (especially in cultures that honour the written word) has downgraded its value. Once at the very core of forms of performance such as commedia dell’arte, and even of Stanislavskian work on the text and character, improvisation is nowadays primarily viewed in the English-speaking world as a source of fun and games, and not a serious aspect of authorship…”38 This positing of fun and games in contrast to serious authorship strikes me as being at the rather sharp end of a somewhat Calvinist approach. The CRE-ACTORS project has shown us that fun and games might be an integral part of authorship, but perhaps not one coming from on high. Granted it is more di cult to generate fun and games when operating as a sole author, but their practice might then lead us to di erent forms of authorship. We will revisit later on the hierarchical implications of the single author versus collaborative creation. “An association of social promotion, autonomous and pluralist, which is con gured as an associative system that promotes culture, sociality and solidarity through the practice of participation and self-management; it promotes the free association of citizens, drawing inspiration from federalist principles and proposing itself as a complex of spaces for responsible participation, in a self-organised form, to favour an articulated dialectic of democracy in the social sphere.” (Arci) I am going to start my Bologna re ections with lunch, but not with bolognese – which you won’t nd on menus in Bologna - partly because that meat sauce they know as simply ragu (to be eaten, preferably, with tagliatelle). I want to start with lunch because the de nition you have in the paragraph above is not of Teatro Dell’Argine and its working practices, but of Arci – where the CRE-ACTORS company went every day to eat lunch. We visitors experienced Arci as a rather glorious, large, heavily-used community restaurant, serving very good food at a ordably cheap prices. Founded in Florence in 1957, Arci (Associazione Ricreativa e Culturale Italiana) is the largest Italian non-pro t organisation outside the Catholic church, with over 4750 cultural centres across Italy and more than a million members. It was created with a view to anti-fascism and solidarity. For 65 years, its members have worked to promote values such as mutualism, social justice, liberty, laicity and solidarity in Italy... While the rest of Italy expressed its performative turn in the elections of September 2022, Bologna (and near neighbour Florence) remain towards the Left. While both cities are similarly sized and relatively a uent, this re ection matters as it provides a pertinent context for the big tent CRE-ACTORS workshop week conducted seamlessly by our Italian hosts in Bologna. I want to pick up on laicity as it has a di erent set of connotations here in Italy from its better 38

https://seestage.org/features/migration-diary-improvisation-duska-rad-krojer/? fbclid=IwAR2B2aCyzJKAWVMJy6QF89GZnwzKyCZqtK2d7Y-ODQfe-Fu-dSVPVqvaZzU

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known ‘cugina’ in France. Unlike France which as a post-colonial power includes Europe’s largest African and Moslem populations, Italy’s cultural diversity is less to do with its history of (largely failed) colonialism, but rather its geo-political location in Southern Europe and the Mediterranean: immigrants / refugees. Like in France, laicity exists in part to provide a secular counter the historical dominance of Catholicism, in Italy largely in the guise of the papacy. In Paris the CRE-ACTORS company was fortunate to bene t from the TDS chef and kitchen. Rather like our entire experience of The Cartoucherie, everything was ‘in casa’. TDA are obliged to work in a more distributed way. In addition to the splendid small theatre, the company also shares usage of a number of studio spaces in a separate building across town for workshops primarily with young people. The Big Tent is thus both a welcoming space to allcomers as well as a further example of shared space, to be negotiated not just among those di erent CRE-ACTORS teams, but also with all the others who rent and use the space at di erent times. “Exercises such as walks maintaining the balance of space, eye contact, instructions to jump, go to the ground, changes of rhythm, among others; especially in theater workshops in schools, universities and communities: these types of exercises are essential for personal and collective development when we work in theater. Working from the very basics will allow us to develop an active state of listening, reaction, trust, and creativity on and o the stage.” (Andrea Formantel) In this way might we begin to see the raw materials / processes of collaborative authorship as distinctly di erent from text, let alone a single author? It is easy to see how Radosavljevic Krojer might posit fun and games as somehow frivolous, which of course they can be. However in the hands of the TDA team in Bologna, there is a rigour, discipline and systematic approach imbued with the practice of participation and self-management. Dominique Jambert captures this most succinctly: “I would add that the rules, the framework, are necessary. The constraints make it possible to develop the imagination, the creativity. They are a starting point, repel the vertigo of the blank page. The emphasis is not on the quality of the execution but on the construction of the vision by the group.” While in Paris we all had to get to know each other in a wonderfully hallowed space that inculcated both a sense of ritual as well as wonder; in Bologna we had the bene t and pleasure of meeting each other again after nearly a year and the strong urge to get to work. The Big Tent very rapidly became a practical shared space in which to get into the mechanics; the construction of the vision. Clear instructions were augmented by Micaela and Andrea’s re ections as we went through the sequence of work, commenting on how TDA had used / would use a particular exercise while working with di erent community groups. This enabled the CRE-ACTORS group to build outwards from the work in Paris, while negotiating the limitations placed on sustained working with community groups resulting from two years of COVID. While our hosts picked up the themes of shipwreck and THE TEMPEST from the Paris workshop, these were sewn in lightly to the fabric of the work. “In a game for two, called ‘Raft of the Medusa’, proposed by Micaela, the play THE TEMPEST by Shakespeare appeared in the workshop. It was rather the relationships between characters that were put into play. Little by little, we began to introduce a chorus behind the two actors who started the exercise, that is, the rest of the participants, divided between men and women, joined the rst participant who became a coryphaeus (leader of the chorus). At this point, some images of the proposed characters began to appear. Maybe because of a lack of time, these small appearances

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“Andrea Paolucci’s emphasis on how to give feedback, that theatre is not about rigid rules, but discipline, and that ‘We are not in the business of selling tomatoes’ is remarkable. This epitomises the idea that the moment of creation is more important than execution. What is important is starting and nishing the work together as a group. I like the idea about theatre being about ‘Receive, Package and Share’ and the reciprocity that comes from this sharing. I like the fact that the emphasis was on all of these. When working with participants, one must understand that for the production the story begins from a place of truth but as the production progress there is the possibility of it becoming more without changing the core of the truth. For example, when we had to take one thing from other people’s stories to add to one our own story without changing the core facts, the embellishment only made our story more interesting without jeopardising the fundamental pedestal of its inner core.” (Kunle Animashaun)

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were not very developed during the workshop and left me wanting to see more. I found it a bit unfortunate that this was the only time that we explored characters in the exercises proposed throughout the week”. (Amanda Tedesco) I understand the actor’s instinct, but the instructions from Micaela were: “No designated leaders. Start with something simple. The aim is not competition, but that it works. Don’t sink the raft”. This indicates that we were navigating elsewhere: how to balance the space when you have many di erent people together on choppy seas. When, in the ‘4 Ages of Life’ improvisation groups the CRE-ACTORS teams came up with some rather wonderful responses to the challenge Andrea set us that the stage must be the white stool top (“Lots of freedom in a little space. You can move the audience where you want them.“), his observation concisely summarised the journey from Paris to Bologna: “We don’t usually get such high quality impros! With less experienced groups - rules disobeyed may need to be corrected as they are errors rather than subversively creative.” * I want to consider The Umbrella Stories in more depth through the lens of the sequence of processes which generated them, because they illustrate a key element of the CRE-ACTORS project, especially when working with community groups: how to balance praxis with ethics. All Bologna workshop participants were asked to bring with them 4 things each holding signi cance for them in some way: • • • •

A piece of music A photo A quote An object

We are then given 10 minutes to create a 2-minute presentation around these, which we then all give. The whole group is told that, when they watch others’ presentations, they have to pay very careful attention to gestures, words, atmospheres and notice and write down what catches their attention, because they will be asked to work on these later. Then we all watch each piece, and at the end we have a little exchange on what struck us most. In this way we move into the work as a group. One of the participants, who was not there on the preceding day, is asked to write down images, words or sentences that catch her attention. She is then asked to compose the into a sort of a poem. Then the large group is asked to divide into pairs and to get into 2 lines that face each other: they are asked to play the Mirror Exercise in the corridor version, that they learned the day before. But this time, they are asked to move in response to the gestures and atmospheres proposed by their fellows in the individual presentations just seen. When the collective movement of the corridor gets to a climax, the guide asks the participant who composed the “poem” to slowly walk in the corridor, from the back to the front of the stage, reading it out loud to an imaginary audience. In this way the personal material is both textually removed from its sole authors and re ected back as an impressionistic whole, while being relocated corporeally within the group body. This is a crucial priming coat to what will be the next day’s Umbrella Stories. Crucial because it is a (tacit) theatrical contracting between all the participants that moves authorship away from any single (editorial) voice to a collective whole, while simultaneously de-personalising any of the material, which in origin had in some cases been very personal.

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The next day the process starts with a similar kind of inversion – but this time one of objects in space. When the participants enter The Big Tent the space has been arranged with chairs and stools placed in many di erent positions and combinations, including overturned and at irregular angles, in order to make people imagine di erent, separate corners. The guide invites participants to take paper and a pen, to walk around the space using di erent rhythms and directions, and then to individually nd their place in the space. A small place of their own. She asks them to imagine that that spot is their favourite room at home during the rst Covid lockdown in 2020: she invites them to imagine it precisely as it is, in a very detailed way. Then, she gives them 10 minutes to write down answers to: • • • •

What’s in my room? What’s missing from my room (especially during lockdown)? What is essential and MUST be there? What do I nd oppressive in my room?

These can be anything/anybody: objects – people – animals – ideas – feelings. The answers can be written in the participants’ mother tongue, if they prefer, and should be contained in length, but very speci c and concrete. The participants have 5-10 minutes to write down a little story, inspired by what they have heard from others, or inspired by their own story, but seen from the point of view of another protagonist. In this way, once again, the story is moved away from the personal. The guide distributes 9 umbrellas among the participants. Those who have umbrellas, they have houses: they choose a spot in the space where they stand or sit. It can also be their favourite room, but they have to make space for at least one more person. The rest of the group, they are citizens: they walk around the town, around the umbrella/houses. The umbrella holders nd a way to invite the citizens under it, they can host one, maximum two at a time: they tell them their story, then the citizens start to walk again until another umbrella invites them. After a while, they swap: umbrella holders become citizens and vice versa. For many of the group this was the rst time they had been asked to mine, creatively, their personal experiences and feelings around COVID and its impact on them. Trust had built across the group starting in Paris a year earlier, then through working together intensively on other things for a couple of days, then through the previous day’s presentations or reworkings. The two or three new participants who had not been part of the Paris workshop became incorporated into the group of twenty who had shared experience, and (again tacitly) were invited to step into that shared level of familiarity. (This can be seen, for example, in the feedback given by Edward – though himself a very seasoned practitioner). This uid duality between storyteller and listener, coupled with the protecting canopy of the umbrella generated a fantastic intimacy across the entire group. The stories use the wellspring of the personal, but protect the participants by allowing these stories to mutate away from their original authors while operating across a shared context where all are implicated equally as creators, listeners, transformers. If all theatre is a about identity and transformation, you can perhaps see how these umbrella stories can serve as a kind of gestalt of the entire CRE-ACTORS project. That’s lunch.

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Giampaolo Parrilla, Harry Baldissera & Omar Badji in THE LEGACY OF BABEL (Teatro dell’Argine) Photo: Lucio Summa 90


TEATRO DELL’ARGINE AND THE LEGACY OF BABEL by Edward Bu alo Bromberg (The Fence) The Legacy of Babel Final performance of project Exoduses 2018 a project by Teatro dell'Argine with the support of UNHCR - United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees workshop and direction by Vincenzo Picone, Micaela Casalboni, Mattia De Luca musical workshop by Francesca Quadrelli, Timothy Trevor-Briscoe, Barbara Zanchi live drawings Giampaolo Parrilla with Omar Badji, Barry Amadou, Alfa Omar Balde, Harry Baldissera, Desirèe Biondi, Sulayman Camara, Mattia Candini, Riccardo Canzini, Enrico Cavina, Martina Cinalli, Modou Diawara, Saikou Dukaray, Vito Enrico Fanizzi, Moussa Faye, Zoe Fornasini, Diego Franceschi, Laura Gnudi, Idoriana Iantorno, Bakary Jabbi, Ebrima Jawla, Makan Kanoute, Layemamadi Keita, Francesco Lolli, Federica Lollini, Ojebor Lucky, Francesca Marchi, Lea Marmo, Asia Mearini, Federica Molteni, Piero Monti, Marco Morara, Nada Moutirhe, Martina Muzzi, Giampaolo Parrilla, Benedicta Rizzi, Diego Rosa, Francesca Miranda Rossi, Souare Saren, Ibrehim Sissoko, Marta Specolizzi, Giovanni Stanzani, Ndjebel Sylla, Yaleub Suleman, Camilla Taurone, Francesca Tisano, Arianna Trevisani, Srna Tulic, Ginevra Tundo, Matilda Verole Bozzello, Matilda Vitiello, Beatrice Zannoni A white room. A white oor about seven meters square. The audience seated on three sides. In the back, a lm screen onto which images are projected of the action on the stage, lmed from above by a camera positioned the centre of the stage. A young man enters, a shaman, he kneels in the centre of the playing area and begins to paint a spiral on the white dance carpet. Music from a stringed instrument accompanies the other actors who now le in. There are perhaps forty or fty of them, all young people, dressed in jeans, the men are shirtless, the woman wear short black tops. They circle the painter, moving in a pattern suggested by the spiral painted on the oor. Texts are read, I am not listening to the words but observing the participants as they enter the room. All sizes, shapes, colours. All young. Percussion is added to the music and the actors drop to the oor, crawling towards the centre, turn on their backs, lay still. So begins THE LEGACY OF BABEL, a production/performance created by Teatro dell’ Argine with a group of fty young people from twelve di erent countries. The production is the nal stage of an annual workshop called Esodi (Exoduses) that gathers 50 young people under the age of 25 as participants. Participants are both foreigners and Italians, some are refugees, asylum seekers, others are already settled in the area around Bologna. Still others might have their sights set on migration to other countries in Europe. These young people come together and share their experiences, also creating a shared experience that will carry them farther out into the world, an experience infused with the knowledge that all of us are travellers on a journey of self-exploration, all in a process of becoming, all needing others to act as mirrors, to help us understand who we are, to discover and de ne ourselves and what we may become. On the performance oor THE LEGACY OF BABEL continues, with an awakening, a ritual of selfdiscovery, but as the actors lift their attention from their own worlds and bodies, as they begin to see the others in the room, skins di erent colours, words in languages strange to

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THE LEGACY OF BABEL (Teatro dell’Argine) Photo: Lucio Summa

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their ears; curiosity is replaced by distrust, distrust grows into aggression until nally there is violence, fty bodies, shoving, wrestling. In one corner of the performance oor, the shaman continues to paint. In my eyes it looks like a map of migration. Soon there are only two opponents on the oor, the other actors watching as they ght for supreme power. When the winner stands alone in the centre of the stage, rst one, then another and nally all bow in submission. A short period in which this “civilization” thrives and dances under a powerful, perhaps benevolent leader. And then he is dead. There is confusion. And a new chapter, a new ritual, in which the larger group is divided into four. Four piles of bodies rise to become four nations, some with potent, authoritarian regimes, others with less obvious forms of coercion. Borders are drawn, individuals attempt to break out but are brought back by the force of arms or the force of tradition. Then marching. Drums. Lines of bodies crossing the space. This mass movement is re-imaged on the screen as white lines on a red background. Very e ective. Marching lines, armies crossing each other, leaving the dead on the white battle eld. Until no one is left alive. Then from silence a human voice, a song. And another one. Bodies awaken. A song in a di erent language until there are again four tribes, four songs, four languages, four cultures. They sleep, they wake, they discover one another, this time not as enemies, but as kin. The shaman moves towards the centre again – paints lines on the performance oor connecting these four tribes. Then slowly at rst, he anoints the actors with a golden paint. The music grows, becomes joyous and more actors are painted until all are painted, and all are running as one tribe, and then dancing and nally playing and touching, laughing, enjoying the free beings that each of them have become. There are few words, the audience will, just as I have, interpret these scenes standing on the rock of their own experience. They will see The Legacy of Babel, the fragmentation of the human family into competing fractions, warring fractions speaking di erent languages. They might also experience the despair that follows war and attrition, and nally the joy of liberation. More important perhaps is the journey taken by the actors. The audience won’t see how they walked into the room on day one, each carrying their own worries, challenges, triggers. All of them, strangers to one another. How over the days and weeks during which the performance is created they learn each other’s names, learn to move together, learn to trust, to touch, to allow themselves to be touched. Until nally a community is built on the values of theatre, performance, respect and liberating self-expression. This is the work that Teatro dell’ Argine does. It is precise, it takes practice and expertise. There are landmines that need to be disarmed, occasional explosions that need to be dealt with, working with 50 young egos across cultural barriers is a respectable task. In the end these young people move forward having accomplished something great. They’ve been moved and have moved others. They carry with them, in their personal library of experience, a success story. Perhaps also a map of Utopia.

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CANTIERI METICCI Theatre in a Supermarket Cantieri Meticci39 was founded in April 2014 by the director and playwright Pietro Floridia, previously a founding member and co-art director of Teatro dell’Argine. The new group started from the core members of the TdA’s Compagnia dei Rifugiati, and grew to include diverse people from over 20 countries across the world, all united by a passion for theatre and a strong political commitment: refugees, migrants, young artists, citizen activists, students and university researchers, teachers, musicians..… Cantieri Meticci has performed in important festivals across Italy, as well as in France, Poland, Belgium, Germany, Brazil and Iran. With the project Quartieri Teatrali, it transforms places in Bologna (including libraries, parishes, reception centres, social and cultural centres, mosques, Arci clubs) into forges of social crossbreeding and access to culture. In 2017, Cantieri Meticci transformed what used to be the warehouses of the Coop Alleanza 3.0 supermarket into a set of artistic ateliers, called MET: Meticceria ExtrArtistica Trasversale. • Meticceria because it wants to be a construction site of social ‘mestizaje’. • ExtrArtistica because it tends to conceive artistic projects with repercussions that go beyond the eld of art, triggering processes of social transformation. • Trasversale because it practices a crossing of barriers between disciplines: a mixing of the arts that encourages the mixing of the most diverse people. MET is a workshop in which to encourage dialogue, collaboration and exchange of knowledge between di erent people, through innovative cultural practices. It is a multifaceted space that contains di erent environments, with di erent characteristics and uses: -

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the The-Atrium with 80 seats; the Collagerie: an atelier for gurative arts, collages, illustrations and comics, designed for children; the Peopolyphonic Archive: a multimedia archive to see and listen to the interviews and narratives that are carried out in the various participatory projects; a rehearsal room; two lofts that house the o ces (administration, organization and communication); RHystourArt: the central environment around which all the other spaces revolve, with a stage, a bar counter made out of old typographical drawers, and walls full of frames for photographic exhibitions and more. In the hall, six square tables designed and built to be used both as a classic tool for conviviality, but also as an audio and video device – tables that can be transformed into a screen, a puppet theatre, a loudspeaker, or... who knows!

https://www.cantierimeticci.it/en/

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The R.E.D. Carpet Reframing the European Dream A common red carpet – of the kind laid out as a sign of welcome – is transformed into an interactive artwork (both physical and virtual) through which viewers can open, on their smartphone, new windows about Europe and the people who live there. The carpet features 12 central rosettes, created by the artist Sara Pour, which are composed of metaphorical and polysemic images that re ect some of the themes emerging from the interviews realised in Italy by researchers from University of Bologna and of Rome La Sapienza, to explore migrants’ perceptions of Europe.40 The QR codes embedded in the carpet lead to videos. Europe may seem like a route to success in life, but it is also a tragic space for many migrants, and the artwork includes this element, for example in the image of Agamemnon walking to his death along a red carpet. It’s a portable installation, weighting only 10kg, and has toured, for example, to Morocco. When it arrives in a new space, it is unrolled with music playing, as it creates a cultural space.

https://www.perceptions.eu/red-carpet/ 96

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A Game of Storytelling through Cards This is a performance with a participatory game included, based around a dining table. Usually the audience watches a 15 minute show, then sits down in small groups at the tables to eat together. The food is cooked by the refugee performers. After the meal, they are invited to create their own stories, linked to the show, starting from cards similar to Tarot, with vivid images. One person starts, and the others have to guess which of the cards laid out on the table they have chosen. All those guessing compete with one another – they have to convince the others that their solution is correct. Then they vote and somebody wins. The idea is that of creating opportunities for the audience members to interact with each other creating stories and talking, and not only to be passive spectators of a show. This project also enabled Cantieri Meticci to create jobs for refugees, and to expose older local audiences to non-white people in their communities.

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L’histoire de la petite vache sacrée Il était une fois, une petite vache sacrée achetée par son maître dans un marché en Inde. Suite à son voyage en 2016, son maître a mis dans sa valise cette petite vache sacrée faite en verre et l’a ramenée en France. Son maître l’a posée dans sa chambre à côté de son lit, pendant cinq ans, il ne l’a pas déplacée, cette petite vache sacrée. Mais miraculeusement, quelque chose s’est produit. Son maître est resté pendant plusieurs jours à la maison, il dormait dans son lit, très tard. Jusqu’à très tard, il regardait la télé. Suite au changement, dans la maison, de meubles, son maître l’a descendue dans le salon. Son maître était assis face à elle pendant plusieurs jours en écoutant la radio et en buvant beaucoup de café. Dans la radio, on entendait plusieurs mots qui se ressemblaient : con nement, covid et toute la journée ça se répétait, en boucle. « Mon maître il a regardé la fenêtre, xant les yeux sur la rue mais je ne comprenais pas ce qui se passait. Un jour mon maître est sorti pour la première fois, mais la durée de la sortie était très courte. Quand il est rentré, j’ai vu qu’il avait quelque chose sur sa tête, comme un masque, et il avait quelque chose dans la main, alcool, alcool. Et sa femme criait : « Mets tes chaussures là-bas! Mets un peu d’alcool! Qu’est-ce que tu fais là, c’est pas possible, pourquoi tu rentres, mets beaucoup d’alcool sur tes chaussures, mets-en sur tes mains, jette le masque dans la rue ou jette-le dans la poubelle! Mais qu’est-ce que tu fais là? Tu nous stresses ! Tu vas nous amener la maladie ! On veut pas de maladie! » Et là, j’ai compris qu’il y avait quelque chose de très grave qui était arrivé. Il y avait du silence partout, j’entendais plus les bruits, les voitures ne passaient pas comme normalement. J’entendais pas le gars qui était là parfois et qui chantait et jouait de la musique. Oui j’entends encore beaucoup de musique quand même, c’est quelque chose de di érent mais j’adore cet événement, c’est trop bien, parce qu’à huit heure du soir, tout le monde applaudit et on voit la télé qui est allumée toute la journée et je vois mon maître assis toute la journée sur le canapé blanc et je suis très contente, je suis très contente qu’il soit là, à la maison, en n pour me voir, parce que je suis quand même à lui. Son objet préféré, la vache sacrée. » (Saboor Sahak)

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“How does a migrant feel? I was both home and away. I was an insider of sorts and at the same time situated at an angle to the place.” (Seamus Heaney) “I'm always very careful to say I'm Irish-Ethiopian because I feel Ethiopian and I look Ethiopian and I am Ethiopian. But there are 81 languages in Ethiopia, and I don't know any of them.” (Ruth Negga)

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3. DUBLIN • ABC - Border Crossings • Introduction to Border Crossings • Intercultural Devising Practices: Dublin Training Lucy Dunkerley and Michael Walling • A Re ection from the Fence - Jonathan Meth • The Great Experiment - Jonathan Meth • Kabosh Theatre Company - Intercultural Theatre in the Aftermath of Con ict

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“The exercises reveal the impact of language on communication. This is an exercise that has the potential to engender deep re ections in terms the relationship between language and power and how language can produce in uence and control.” (Kunle Animashaun)

Andrew French in THIS FLESH IS MINE (Border Crossings) Photo: Richard Davenport

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A for ACTIVISM: because you have to move bodies and heads to move the world B as BORDERS: to be crossed, broken up, eliminated C for CHALLENGING: because every challenge shapes your actions D for DOUBT: everything begins in doubt: it will become easier in the end. Also DIFFERENCE 41

or DUALITY (two is better than one, many is better than few, stereo is better than mono), as DRAMATURG (bless their souls), as DARING (because you always have to dare), as DUBLIN (we’re talking about it when we get to the I of Ireland ...)

E as EXCELLENT, EXUBERANT, EXCITING, ECLECTIC (this is theatre, isn't it?). Or as EATING, because eating together creates community

F

And so, we say , FOOD, often FRUGAL, but it does not matter if there is FRIENDSHIP, which makes our actions light and takes care of every FRAGILITY, indicating the way to the FUTURE

G that is to be GLOBAL, but also GROUNDED, step by step, without exaggerating Only in this way you can hope to reach it.

H

And speaking of ... in Italian it is silent, in English just a breath ... but can't you hear how the words HOPE and HONESTY resound?

I as INDIGENOUS, those native peoples often marginalised by history but surviving and therefore to be respected, or as INTERCULTURAL, which means mixing with others. I also for IRELAND. Why Ireland? In Ireland also there were natives expelled from their lands. But we, Border Crossings, we kicked ourselves out of England when England kicked herself out of Europe. A kind of sad joke. In short, we did our… JOURNEY with the

J and we were welcomed.

K for KEY, the one that Palestinian refugees wear around their necks, the only link with the land of their past, the only memory, the only hope of return

L as LUCY (of course!), as LESS (because less is more), as LAUGHTER – all these are LIBERATORY (and how much there is still to be released!)

M as MASALA, a set of di erent, colourful, tasty spices that together have a special, unique avour, and everyone can eat it as they want, with vegetables, with chicken... in short, MASALA as a big M and as a METAPHOR of union and di erences

N for NEGOTIATION: which is the work of the theatre, but also of life O as OPEN: the same reason why borders are better when they are crossed Listen to the ABC at https://bit.ly/3SvZbgs 103

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ABC - BORDER CROSSINGS


P for POLITICAL: our action in the world. And there is no politics if there is no PPARTICIPATION. PLEEEEEASE, participate. And now that you are participating: silence, PLEEEEASE!

Q for QUESTIONING: if an answer comes, don't settle down: move on to the next question, always trying to be

R as RADICAL S

so that the STAGE ( of STAGE) is not just any place, but the place where you can ght to create a new SENSITIVITY, new free and independent SPIRITS

T for TIME (the right time you need to get things done) We recognise that we are in the U of UNCERTAINTY, but also in the U of UNIT and UNDERSTANDING to understand if everyone, if everyone, as it is their right, speaks with their own

V for VOICE)

VOICE (

W of WONDER)

only in this way what we do becomes WONDER ( What is missing?

X of X (that of those who can’t leave their signature) The Y for YES to say Yes to them too The Z of ZEAL to read all the alphabetical letters in this abc list and turn them into reality The

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BORDER CROSSINGS Border Crossings was established in 2019 to create new intercultural, multi-media theatre in response to the contemporary globalised world. The company works across the borders between cultures and art forms, and between nations and peoples. Border Crossings advocates for a widely accessible approach to cultural work, with particular stress on: • Social Integration. Border Crossings works with artists and international cultural partners to make theatre and other cultural outputs that re ect the increasingly multicultural and international nature of Irish society. The company’s approach embraces the international dimension of Irish life occasioned by the arrival of new citizens, and o ers a space where people of di erent backgrounds can encounter one another’s cultures on an equal footing. • International Collaboration. Border Crossings works with partners across the European Union and beyond to develop innovative new approaches to theatrical and cultural creation, participation and learning. By collaborating with international artists and cultural operators of high professional standing, Border Crossings aims to enhance the cultural o er in the Irish Republic, and generate international opportunities for Irish artists. • Participation and Education. Border Crossings works closely with the diverse communities of contemporary Ireland, both within the education system and at a grassroots community level, to enable wide and varied participation in cultural activities, regardless of ethnic and cultural identity, religious beliefs, and socio-economic background. Border Crossings’ education and community work relates directly to the company’s professional projects, ensuring an ongoing dialogue between artistic production and the development of community participation. Although quite recently established in Ireland, Border Crossings has a sister company of the same name in the UK, which was established in 1995, and has a longer track record of intercultural devising. Performance projects include: • THE GREAT EXPERIMENT (2020) - a response to the history of indentured labour migrations, discussed in this publication. • THIS FLESH IS MINE (2014) - a contemporary version of The Iliad, written by Brian Woolland in response to workshops in Lebanon and Palestine. Co-produced with ASHTAR Theatre, Ramallah. • CONSUMED (2013) - a multimedia piece about love, language and capital in contemporary China. Co-produced with Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre, • THE ORIENTATIONS TRILOGY (2003-2010) - Three plays exploring gender, sexuality and politics between Asia and Europe. Co-produced with Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre, Shanghai Yue Opera, Yaksha Degula. Community projects include: • BOTANY BAY (2021-22) - a project to create community gardens which use Indigenous approaches to horticulture and food. • TOTEM LATAMAT (2021) - a Totonac totem travelled from Mexico to Glasgow’s COP26. Film projects include: • REMEMBRANCES (20220) - streamed version of a dance performance we created for the 2022 Commonwealth Games. • MAGNETIC NORTH (2020) - created in response to the British Museum’s Arctic exhibition. • MORE THAN WORDS (2020) - an exploration of migration and non-verbal communication in Europe.

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• HIDDEN HISTORIES (2016) - the story of Indigenous travellers to London, told by Mark Rylance. Since 2009, Border Crossings has presented the ORIGINS Festival of Indigenous arts and culture. In 2022, with the help of our CRE-ACTORS partners, we issued THE SLIGO MANIFESTO • This manifesto is our response to an increasingly uncertain world, characterised by pandemic, climate change and warfare. Planning has become hugely challenging, and risk is high. However, this has always been the state in our collaborative, intercultural devising spaces. We embrace uncertainty as a catalyst to creative practice. • Our work - in theatre, in other art forms, in education, in community cultural development and online - is not an attempt to represent the world, but to change it. • Our predominantly white artistic leadership and management team will engage honestly and self-critically in evolving, creative, intercultural dialogues with marginalised artists, communities and stories. • We reject the commercial model of theatre as “production”. For us, theatre is a participatory process, all aspects of which need to engage with the communities we serve. Performance is a public ritual, a ceremony that brings our communities together. • Our work going forward will therefore focus on “events” rather than “productions”; channelling energies towards generating real impact in terms of social and environmental justice, cultural and spiritual renewal. • We now work through two charitable companies, one in the Republic of Ireland and one in the UK: both dedicated to intercultural dialogue through the arts. In furtherance of this international mission, we will engage more substantially with European partnerships and develop a range of key funding relationships, including core funding. • We will deepen the relationship between our live and digital work, recognising the complementary nature of live and virtual experiences, and the di erent ways in which these inter-related approaches can generate reach and impact. We believe that any art form is regenerated and developed by its interaction with other forms, and so we will enhance our theatre through digital practice and our digital work through our theatre. • We will be more risk aware in our nancial management, more conscious of the evolution of projects through their processes, and more sensitive to the need to keep cultural work free of charge or very a ordable. We will therefore ensure that contingencies form a larger element in our budgeting. bordercrossings.ie

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Sotto L’Ombrello, Ma chi me lo ha fatto fare a me, un cinghiale, di capitare proprio qui: cemento, cemento e ancora cemento! Lo so io chi me lo ha fatto fare: c’era quell’odorino di pattume che mi ha tratto in inganno… ed in e etti dentro quel bidone c'era proprio del buono, ma adesso non trovo più la strada per il bosco. Quindi è in posti fatti così che abitano gli umani? Che schifo! Ma come fanno? Per fortuna che qui è tutto deserto… E’ evidente che è deserto: gli umani fanno sempre un sacco di rumore, e poi girano con quegli starni macchinari che fanno un baccano … e luce, e fumo, e una puzza! E’ evidente che non ci sono più. Ma perché se ne sono andati? Strano, però: se non ci sono perché sento questi odori … succosi. Ah, ma questi odori io li conosco, io li riconosco! Quando vengono nel prato, a fare le loro feste, io sento questi odorini provenire da quello che mangiano! Sembra che facciano a gara a chi produce il cibo più colorito! Più gustoso non lo so, non lo posso sapere: mai che lascino qualcosa da mangiare! Solo cartacce! Ma è un po’ che non li vedo neanche più lassù da noi… Forse se ne sono andati! Andati davvero intendo! Su un altro pianeta intendo! Beh, se è così… posso anche prenderla con calma … Posso mangiare un po’ di quest’altro pattume… tanto ce n’è in abbondanza. E loro non torneranno presto. Se torneranno. (Paolo Fronticelli)

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Tatiana Santos in the Dublin training workshop

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INTERCULTURAL DEVISING PRACTICES - Dublin training by Lucy Dunkerley & Michael Walling (Border Crossings) Day 1 Warm - up and Group Building It was important to make new people feel immediately at ease and welcome. The need to establish positive energy, shared experience and enable a group to get to know each other quickly should never be underestimated. This means they then feel safe, creative and open to more complex work. The CRE-ACTORS group in Dublin was a large group of 29, with several people who were new to the project and varying degrees of experience. All the following games are done in a circle, standing up. 1) Name and gesture The facilitator starts by saying their name making a small gesture three times. E.g., clapping or clicking ngers. E.g., Lucy + click, click, click. The group repeat the name 3 gestures, three times. Then person next to the facilitator then says their own name and does a di erent gesture, which the group repeats 3 times. This is done in quick succession until everyone has had a turn. This is a very simple game and should be done without pausing or talking. In an intercultural setting, it is best practice if the facilitator demonstrates the game rather than using words to explain it, as that way everyone can understand. The exercise is also a good way to learn names quickly. It is claimed that if you say a name three times you remember it! A simple name game is a good method to put people at ease as it doesn’t require any language to understand and it is easy for everyone to pick up. 2) Bing bong bing The facilitator stands in the middle of the circle and points at someone – they are asked to say “Bing”. The person to their right is asked to say “Bong”, the next person says “Bing”, and then the next person says their name. This pattern repeats around the circle. If someone gets the sequence wrong, or hesitates, they are “out” (and could sit down). Once the group gets con dent at the sequence the leader changes it. It can get increasingly long and di cult, e.g.: -Bing, bing, bing, bong, bong, bong, name -Bing, bing, bing, bing, bong, name Each time the faciliator changes the pattern it is helpful to get the group to repeat the sequence in unison. This game is useful for groups who don’t speak the same language. It is fun to play, doesn’t rely on people knowing each other’s names (and helps you learn them) and, as it only needs a couple of simple words, it is very inclusive for people who don’t feel con dent speaking the host language. The game continues until there is a winner, or (if working with a big group) a small group of winners.

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3) Story of your life/ introduce yourself with a match In a large group some people naturally speak more than others, and it can be di cult to give everyone the space to introduce themselves, especially if time is limited. This technique helps people focus on what they really want to say and limits the length of time that people talk. It gives people a relatively equal time to speak in a fun way. With international groups, some people might not be con dent in speaking English (or any other host language) so it is good for the facilitator to encouraged people to do the exercise using the language in which they are most comfortable. It doesn’t matter if not everyone can understand what is being said: it is more important that everyone is heard. This is also useful for the group to get used to hearing and using more than one language. Once people have permission, and feel accepted to use any language, they are more likely to use their own language in later actives, which is very freeing and sets the tone for the whole project. Each person lights a match (a glass of water or a re bucket should be at hand to drop the match!). They introduce themselves and talk for the length of time that the match burns. 4) Guess who’s leading This is a good game to start a group moving and working together. One person is selected to go out of the room for a moment. Another person is selected to be the leader- they start to move, and the rest of the group must copy them, moving all at the same time. The group must keep moving. The person outside comes in and they have up to 3 guesses to see if they can work out who the leader is. The person who was the leader is the next to go out the room to guess. “All these tools can well be used, with only a little translation and mediation, while working in intercultural contexts with people who don’t share the same language or theatre experience. I think of adopting them for example in those groups including people with a migration or refugee background who have just arrived to Italy, and with whom we are working at the moment.” (Micaela Casalboni)

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Working with Images 1 Before the training begins, each participant is asked to nd 3 images. For the CRE-ACTORS training, at least one of these showed an intercultural and/or devised performance in which they had been involved, and at at least one showed what they understood by “interculturalism”. They brought these in printed form, and also emailed them to the facilitator. The Exercise also works with paintings or other images. The group divides into pairs, with each person showing their images to the other, and explaining a little about them42. The person seeing the images for the rst time chooses one which appeals to them, and takes the printed copy, which they keep hidden from view. The images not chosen are discarded. Each person then nds a second, di erent partner. They decide who will be “blind” rst. This person is blindfolded43. The “sighted” person then communicates the picture they have to the “blind” person - but they cannot use words or language. They can move their partner or otherwise apply touch; they can make nonverbal sounds with their voice or body: the only rule is that they must not use words. Once the sighted partner feels they have communicated the picture, the roles are reversed. The images remain concealed. The group re-assembles, with a chair facing the “audience”. Each person in turn sits in the chair and describes the image that they have been led through when they were blindfolded. The facilitator may assist this process by asking questions, particularly when people describe the experience rather than the picture. It works really well if there is a screen behind the chair, as the image can be projected where the audience can see it but the person speaking cannot. If there is no projection available, then the partner can stand behind the person speaking and hold the printed image for the audience to see. This activity is hugely freeing in terms of creativity, and helps people to move beyond language into other forms of communication.

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Language barriers should not be an issue, as at least one of the images will almost certainly speak for itself.

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If people are resistant to being blindfolded, or there are known issues around trauma in the group, then it is possible to do this with eyes closed. The only reason for the blindfold is that it’s very tempting to open them.

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“I am de nitely going to steal the exercise where you choose a photograph of a partner, then you transmit it without words to another partner and he has to tell us what he experienced from the photograph. It was incredible how in some cases, colleagues managed to capture the very essence of a photograph that they had never seen, thanks to the transmission they had received from the person with whom they worked.” (Andrea Formantel)

“Very di cult exercise: describe without words a photo to someone who is temporarily blind! INCREDIBLE results: Either the person almost sees the photo, or they describe something completely di erent, but in each case, the imagination kicks in. Each participant makes a representation from sounds and touches even if it has nothing to do with the photo.” (Dominique Jambert)

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Working with Images 2 Part 1 - Image Theatre This practices starts with a technique adapted from Augusto Boal’s “image theatre”. As a practice in his “Theatre of the Oppressed”44, it is intended to facilitate genuine and deep collaboration on the basis of equality. Participants work in groups of four or ve. The facilitator gives them key words or concepts, in response to which they will create a physical image using their bodies. For intercultural and multi-lingual groups, the choice of words is really important, as this will enable (or prevent) full participation. For CRE-ACTORS, we used three words which are very similar in the three core languages of the project, and which also relate to some of the main issues around intercultural practice and policy in Europe: ENGLISH

FRENCH

ITALIAN

Host

Hôte

Ospite

Hostile

Hostile

Ostile

Hospital

Hôpital

Ospedale

The fact that there are slight di erences of meaning between these words in the di erent languages is a bonus: for example “Hôte” and “Ospite” can both mean “guest” as well as “host”. The group of four or ve need to make a physical image which they all agree embodies the word. Each individual in turn steps out of the image they are creating and “sculpts” the others to t their sense of what the image should be. They then insert themselves into the image, and someone else takes their turn to do the same. This should be done without talking. The image is nally agreed when all the members of the group have stepped out and back in again without making any adjustment. This technique requires time, as people often disagree quite strongly on what the image should be. There can be “arguments”, when people keep changing something back and forth. Cultural and political di erences can very often be revealed quite starkly. The need to nd consensus is actually an exercise in democracy. Once the images have been found, it’s good to share them with the full group. This can often lead to productive discussions. “Michael, in his feedback, says that it is interesting to observe how we manage more easily to theatricalise Hospital or Hostile but less easily Host. Is it because we have trouble with the reception of the other? If we start from the observation that if there is no con ict, no obstacle, there is no theatre and, in my opinion, “Host” is a word more evocative of an illustration than of a photo shoot. I can no longer remember which of Boubat or Doisneau said that you have to take a picture before the action is over, just before when everything is still possible? Everything is still a story of tension of the body, of intention...For the word “host” to work, you have to go beyond it and propose a con icting situation or have the germ of a con ict…” (Dominique Jambert)

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The technique is most fully recorded in Boal’s book “The Rainbow of Desire” (London, Routledge 2015)

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Part 2 - Devising from Images The second part of this practice is for the groups to take their three images and to create a short piece of theatre which includes all three. For this part of the process, talking is permitted (and indeed encouraged), so translation may be needed. The images can appear in any order during the performance, and they do not have to be highlighted (although they can be). The original words may or may not be considered. Participants may speak during their performance, but they do not have to. During the CRE-ACTORS training, it was very useful to use this approach early in the process, when we had our full team of community participants present. The images and scenes that emerge from this practice are often very telling as a form of research. It was very striking how the scenes made in this workshop were very multilingual, and how they all dealt with very dramatic con icts, whether in serious or comic modes.

“To collaborate democratically in the realisation of a scene. Everyone is called to contribute with their own proposal, but nding a balance with those of their colleagues. The game is not about nding the most beautiful scene, but the one that satis es everybody. Listening, mediation, collaboration, shared creativity.” (Andrea Paolucci)

“I note what di erent aspects of storytelling the di erent groups/companies were drawn to; emotionally, physically, dramaturgically. The di erent kinds of stories they found in a moment, a tableau, an image or a piece of music. The need to nd consensus and take decisions in an improvisation sometimes irons out these subtleties. I think there is a lot to be discovered in there which is at the heart of intercultural work. Also how people from di erent artistic practices enter into a collaboration..” (Hanna Slättne)

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“DAY 2 - or the day I found my inner zombie ;)” (Dominique Jambert)

Day 2 Warm-Up The aim of this warm-up is to get the group to move together as a company. It starts slowly and can build to become quite physical. Each person nds a space to lie down. The facilitator asks them to allow their body to feel the oor below them, and, as they breathe, to let the body sink and have more contact with the oor. The facilitator encourages the group to breathe together in a slow mediative way: e.g. breathe in for 4, hold for 4, breathe out for 4. Eventually they are asked to start moving their ngers, when they breathe out, then moving on to include their wrist, their arms etc., moving then to the toes, feet, and eventually moving to a standing position. They are asked to observe the other people in the room and try to move at the same tempo and style. Participants are encouraged to explore the space but should move while observing each other, trying to keep breathing together and moving in the same tempo and style as the rest of the group. They are then asked to connect with another person and maintain physical contact with one other at all times, whilst still observing the whole group. They are then asked to connect with two people and should be connected to one at all times. This will then eventually go back down to touching one person, then being on their own, and nally just breathing together again. Music is played and the tempo is changed to re ect the group. The exercise needs to be given enough time to develop and to allow the group to come together.

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Working with Languages 1 The exercise is useful for intercultural groups to explore the cultural and languages in the room and to use di erence as a strength to create theatre. They are encouraged to spend time exploring and nding ways to communicate with each other which then can be used to create a scene. Border Crossings’ play CONSUMED had 3 characters: one who spoke only Mandarin, one who spoke only English, and one who spoke both. The actors in the company re ected the characters and the director spoke only English. The play had some scenes with a couple in love trying to communicate despite not speaking the same language, and used a variety of methods such as Google translate, or a translator. The CRE-ACTORS participants were asked to get into smaller groups of 3-5 with least one person who spoke a di erent language from rest of the group. There were asked to create a scene around “A meal” and told that the scene should explore understanding and misunderstanding, when people do not speak the same language. The meal was chosen as a setting, because food is an excellent way to bring people together and can highlight cultural di erence. Participants were asked speci cally to think about how we can play with understanding or misunderstanding of language, as well as thinking what the audience would be able to understand. It’s helpful for each group to explore how they have seen others try to communicate across languages. The groups were given 20 minutes to prepare their scene. The scenes were performed back to the rest of the group.

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Working with Languages 2 This technique is open to variation according to the cultural and linguistic make-up of the group. It works very well if you can divide the group into threes, two of whom speak one language which the third does not speak, particularly if the third person speaks another language which is not known to the other two. For example, in the CRE-ACTORS project, we had these examples: • • • • •

Edward and Hanna worked in Swedish, with Dominique working in French Thais and Amanda worked in Portuguese, with Kunle working in Yoruba Andrea and Romi worked in Spanish, with Xevi working in Catalan Sandra and Bronwen worked in Irish, with Jonathan working in English Micky and Nicola worked in Italian, with Lucy working in BSL

It is good if the facilitator acknowledges that there is a politics to the language combinations, and that the participants should be sensitive to this. The participants are given a VERY short time to prepare a scene - 2 minutes maximum. All they need to decide is what the situation is that they will present. The scenes are then performed to the full group as improvisations. What is particularly exciting about this approach is that the performance is REAL. When people don’t understand what another performer is saying, that is useful for the drama. The challenges posed by an intercultural, multilingual group are turned into something advantageous. The exercise also generates scenes that raise important questions about the relationship between language and power structures.

“In our presentation, my character presented as a Nigerian man speaking his native language Yoruba, and the encounter between him, Thais and Amanda who both speak Portuguese. We devised a piece in which two Brazilian ladies encountered a Nigerian guy in a particular location, for example, a beach. While the two ladies were talking excitedly to each other about the guy, he on the other hand was talking about them, to someone else on the phone, though unbeknownst to the ladies.” (Kunle Animashaun)

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Kabosh and the North Day 2 of the CRE-ACTORS training ended with a talk by Paula McFetridge about her intercultural theatre work in Belfast. In response to her discussion of working in and with speci c places and spaces, each participant was invited to send the facilitator overnight an image of a particular (nontheatrical) place that they found in some way stimulating. These could be images from their time in Dublin, their home town or elsewhere.

“It was incredible to discover a bit of Irish history at the same time that we were working on improvisations. Many of the materials and questions that the intervenants have shared with us have opened doors for us to learn about this very powerful history. The politics and history of this country and its culture undoubtedly opens up a creative universe for the research and exploration of the theatrical scene and the acting.” (Amanda Tedesco)

Day 3 The Seven Levels of Tension Part 1 This technique is based on the work of Jacques Lecoq. The group moves through the room, and the facilitator leads them through various physical “states” or “levels of tension”. It is important that there are objects around the room with which participants can interact, and these should not be valuable or breakable. Chairs, tables, bags, water bottles and shoes are all very useful. The levels are: "# Pond Life. There is no tension at all in the body, which is inert. $# The Californian. The body is deeply relaxed, and as a result the performer feels very much at ease, laid back and friendly. It’s a bit “druggy” really. When you meet people, you love them. %# The Stage Manager. This level is clear-thinking, e cient and organised. Nothing is a problem. If something has to be dealt with, you go to it without rushing but without dawdling. If something needs to be xed, you x it. When you meet people, you greet them politely.

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&# The Baby. This level is perpetually excited and stimulated by everything, but cannot concentrate on any one thing for more than a second or two because there’s always something more exciting to see next. When you meet people, you probably want to know whether their hair is real - or something like that. '# Late for work. This level is getting pretty tense. Everyone else seems to be a bit useless, and you really have to impose your will on them otherwise nothing will get done. The world feels like it’s moving out of your control and you have to assert yourself to get it right. (# Bomb in the room. Panic, rushing away, screaming. )# Rabbit in the headlights. Paralysed with fear, you’re so tense. It works best to start from level 3 and to introduce the other levels one at a time, going back to 3 whenever it’s necessary to explain. Once the group have got the idea of each level, there’s a lot of fun to be had by shifting around between them. Part 2 Once the group know the seven levels, the facilitator can set some improvisations in motion. The group gathers around a space, and music is played: lighter, dancey pop music works best. The facilitator sends participants into the space one at a time, specifying a level of tension for them to work with. Make sure there’s always an interesting mix. If someone seems to be getting tired or in a rut, bring them out of the scene. People learn as much from watching this as from doing it. The key is the dramatic con icts that arise between the di erent levels of tension. Working with the Body and Space This technique works well just after participants have done Seven Levels of Tension, and also when they’ve been thinking about place and space. The facilitator creates a PowerPoint presentation of images which show a range of di erent places and spaces. For CRE-ACTORS, many of these were the images that the participants themselves found in response to Paula’s presentation about site-speci c work in Belfast. Images of theatres and performances should not be used. Images without people in them work best. As in the previous exercise, the group gather around an empty space. There is a screen behind the space, so this is an end-stage exercise. The facilitator puts on a playlist of music spacey, open sounds work best for this. For CRE-ACTORS, we used Mogwai, Sigur Rós, Pink Floyd, John Adams and Arvo Pärt. The images are projected. Participants are encouraged to go into the space and to improvise in response to the image and music. The facilitator changes the image when they feel the need for a new energy. Make sure you allow time for discussion at the end of this. It’s very helpful for people to say which moments they found particularly powerful or striking - that way they are “banked” for future use. As with many of these techniques, language is not an issue here. You don’t have to speak during the improvisation - and if you do, then the fact that others may not speak the same language is a given.

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“The transference from sight to movement in space as an act of creative transformation. This was intensely surprising and e ective in shifting us into a completely di erent way of understanding our environment and how to navigate communication and imaginary space…. I could also see how doing this exercise after 7 levels of tension helped participants make dynamic choices in relation to each other in tempo and use of space.”

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(Debbie Seymour)


Beginning a Text For this technique, the facilitator needs a supply of “seed lines”. These are pairs of lines, which can either be especially written or taken from existing texts. It’s important that they should be quite “open” (no speci c references to time, place etc), and in a variety of di erent styles. For the CRE-ACTORS training, we used two sets of seed lines. The rst were a wide selection of paired lines that are particularly suited to the exercise. Here are some examples: A:

I have been searching for the stream all night.

B:

It is the other way.

A:

Right, we*ll indulge him. Let*s start.

B:

Just a moment. I*ll bring some of them.

A:

He forgot, even his language.

B:

It*s as if nothing happened.

A:

Went that way. To church.

B:

Right. Sunday.

The participants work in pairs (a group of three can also work, but is more complicated). They take the two seed lines and write a six-line play that includes them - so they write four further lines. The point is to “disguise” the seed lines, so that others won’t spot the initial stimulus. The seed lines can come anywhere in the scene, but they must stay together - you can’t put another line in between. This is really useful when the two lines are apparently unrelated: it gets people thinking about the open nature of good, succinct theatrical dialogue. For multilingual groups, the seed lines (or just one of them) can be translated into the participant’s own language. It’s obviously important that the partners can speak the same language as each other - but they do not have to make a piece that can be literally understood by everyone in the room. In the CRE-ACTORS training, there were some really strong pieces that communicated even though the six lines were in languages other than English. The scenes are presented to the group, who have to guess which were the seed lines. Translation can be useful for this, but it’s best not to do it immediately. Getting a sense of the scene in the language in which it was made is more useful. The second set of seed lines we used in the CRE-ACTORS training were taken speci cally from Irish plays, and dealt with some of the key issues arising across the project, particularly in relation to land, occupation and identity. Here are some examples: A: Couldn*t you say that at rst without making a song about it? B: I don*t believe there*s horses in the stable at all.

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A: Men like you, says I to myself, is getting scarce nowadays. B: I wasn*t going to let myself be maligned by a chancer.

A: Seven years. That*s all it*s been. Some seven years. B: You*ve no notion of what it was all about, have you?

A: Trading, buying and selling. What I*m so good at. B: God. The years I*ve spent wondering what you*d hit me with next….

A: I*m the one who lives here, if you recall. I*m going nowhere, I*ve only just got home. B: We*re not talking personal issues, not any longer. This right here is Nazi [name of place45] now, and it*s us playing the Jews.

The texts that are created in this way can often be very rich and suggestive. It’s often possible to combine two scenes into one. Here’s a piece which was created by putting together two pieces written by Hanna and Kunle, and cutting two lines (as it happened, the seed lines) from the second one: A - Pablo? “I absolutely loved the exercise with the two lines from a play and having to add four lines of dialogue. It's amazing for digging into subtext, punctuation, style and the ner nuances of language and syntax choices. Great to use for any group of theatre students or writers.”

B - Went that way. To Church. A - Right. Sunday. B - You ready? A - Are you sure you know what to do? B - Be careful.

(Hanna Slättne)

A - Will you try to get them to talk?

“I really like the fact of creating very short dialogues, shortening, cutting in the dialogues already created. In practice, we could see how a scene is more powerful, more e ective, without too many words.”

B - When do you think? A - This is doing my head in! B - I have no more ideas.

(Alice Milléquant)

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Note that the last example slightly breaks the rule about speci c reference to place. In the original (Stewart Parker’s “Pentecost”) the reference is to Belfast - but the participants can add any place name here.

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Translations Day 3 of the CRE-ACTORS training ended with a visit to the Abbey Theatre to see a production of “Translations” by Brian Friel. The production was discussed by the participants the following morning. Day 4 Non-Verbal Warm-Up The group is in a circle. This warm-up has been developed through Border Crossings’ work with young people and women’s groups from refugee backgrounds. Many of the vulnerable people we work with are not used to theatre or group work, and there is often no common language. It is good practice to use as little language as possible in explaining exercises, so as not to overwhelm the participants. It encourages a group to listen and respond to each other through nonverbal communication. It is useful way to develop acting and interacting with others. It has also proved very e ective with deaf groups. 1) The facilitator starts by smiling at the person next to them, and then encourages that person to pass the smile to the next person. So the smile is passed all around the circle and back to the facilitator. They receive the smile from the last person, but then change the emotion. It’s helpful that they contrast. The interaction should get longer and have more of a dialogic feel as the task progresses. Example of emotions and ideas to pass include: • • • • • •

Anger Sadness Excitement Flirting Needing help Having a secret to tell.

2) The facilitator takes a piece of imaginary chewing gum out of their pocket and chews it, plays with it and passes it on around the circle. 3) The facilitator takes a deep breath and passes it to someone across the circle. They encourage the person to take the breath in and pass to someone else. Depending on the experience of the group the facilitator might demonstrate di erent way to do this. The breath could be shot across the circle- which would involve the receiver to reacted strongly as if hit by a bit gust of air - or lovingly blown and received. The group is encouraged to experiment and get physical. The more experienced the group, the less the facilitator needs to do. It is helpful for all exercises if a more experienced or con dent member of the group is the second person in the circle.

This exercise is very good to start a workshop with, especially with young people, people from minority background, or people with disability, as it has the capacity to quickly breakdown barriers quickly. It is also good because the non-verbal communication encourages a group to listen and respond to each. (Kunle Animashaun)

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Working with Space and Place: A Further Development Many of the vulnerable people we work with do not always feel welcome, or feel like they belong. They can feel out of place in a setting they do not know. Dramatically potent con ict and tension can be created through using space and place to develop how characters behave and so to tell stories. The facilitator asked the CRE-ACTORS group to get into 3s (if numbers don’t work out exactly have a 4 rather than a group of 2). Each group was asked to select one of the images of place or space that the group had sent in at the end of day 2. The facilitator asked them to think about how places can feel di erent at certain times of a day; e.g. a school at midnight. There are places where we are not supposed to be or go into, and places we are not welcome in. We behave di erently in spaces at di erent times of the day. For example, a beach feels very di erent on a sunny morning than at 2am. How light or dark a space is, the time of year or who is occupying it can make us feel and behave very di erently. The groups were asked to create a scene that used the place at a time of day when the characters would not usually occupy it or when they would not be welcome or shouldn’t be there.

“In one of those moments of improvisation, one of the participants, Sandra, had not noticed that the image had changed. Nevertheless her proposal continues to make sense even if it was a completely di erent space from the rst one whose space was projected before. It made us think about possibilities and the fact that probably she wouldn’t have thought of doing what she was doing if she had seen that the space had changed.” (Amanda Tedesco)

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Working with Di erence This is another very useful activity to do when engaging with community groups, and we had hoped to do it earlier in the week so as to take advantage of the Tallaght participants’ presence. However, it also works very well with a diverse group of professionals. The group divides into pairs. It’s important that partners should be able to talk to one another, but it’s best to avoid people you know well if possible (so for CRE-ACTORS, we made sure everyone’s partner was from a di erent organisation). Each person tells their partner a personal story about a time when they, in some way or another, felt “di erent” or were made to feel “di erent”. It’s important to emphasise that nobody but your partner will hear this personal story, and to give people a sense of having to care for the personal story that is told to them. This part of the practice can be done quite quickly - detail is less useful than overarching narrative and emotional content. The full group re-assembles, with the chair facing them again. Each person in turn tells the full group the story that they have HEARD - BUT they tell it as if it were their own. This can involve huge changes to the narrative - and that’s the point. So a story about a woman may have been told to a man, and he must now tell it back to the group in a way that makes it credible and meaningful that it could have happened to him. The stories are told in whatever language is most comfortable for the teller - translation is used throughout. The facilitator should point out the challenges inherent in the exercise: • What happens when you retell the story in the rst person? • What choices do you make when there is no easy transposition? Participants then divide into groups of three or four, avoiding working with the person whose story they told, and mixing up the national and linguistic groupings. Each group chooses a story which particularly struck them, but which is not one they told to the group, or one which originated with them. They create a piece of theatre which tells all or part of that chosen story. As with the previous stage of the process, they should make the story credibly their own. The pieces are performed back to the group as a whole and discussed. “I did not know this exercise and I will surely use it. It allows to highlight the authenticity of a story, its truth and its emotions. I think it immediately creates intimacy between group participants. It helps to show that vulnerability can be told and artistic. This proves in an experimental way that it is possible to REALLY put yourself in the other person's shoes.” (Alice Milléquant)

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Day 5 Warm-Up - working through the “other” a) The facilitator asks the group to walk around the space in “neutral”, standing tall and walking at a medium pace. 1) As they walk, they are asked to observe someone else. Look at how they walk, any speci c mannerisms etc. 2) Copy how that person walks 3) Exaggerate it by 10 % 4) Exaggerate it by 50 % 5) Exaggerate it by 100 % 6) Repeat the exercise again observing a di erent person. The whole group will end up doing the same walk together as everyone is copying someone who is copying someone else etc. b) The Group is asked to walk in neutral again. The facilitator asks them to nd another person to observe. They are asked to get as close to them as possible without running, and without touching them. c) The Group is asked to walk in neutral again. The facilitator asks them to nd another person. They are asked to get as far away from them as as possible without running d) The Group asked to walk in neutral again. The facilitator asks them to nd two people to observe. They are asked to get as far away from one of them as possible, and as near to the other as possible without running, and without touching anyone.

Structure and Consolidation This is a technique we’ve developed to help turn the material generated through devising tasks into something more like a play. It’s great to do on the last day of a week-long training, because it brings together a lot of what’s been covered, and gives people a strong sense of achievement. Participants are divided into groups of ve or six. The facilitator should be very careful about how the groups are made up - it’s not a good idea just to let people drift into a blob. In multilingual groups, you have to take care that everyone can participate in discussion - so if there are people who don’t speak the main language of the project, make sure there is somebody with them who can translate. Be careful also to ensure that each group includes some more experienced and some less experienced people. Mix up the national teams. If there are people who have worked very well together during the week, try to put them in the same group. If there are dramaturgs or writers, distribute them across the groups so that those skills aren’t all concentrated in one team. Each group has a pile of Post-It notes. Everyone thinks back across the week’s work, and writes down the pieces of theatre created that have made a particular impression on them. It doesn’t have to be work you have made yourself, or even work made by people in your group. Just things that you liked or admired. This might be complete “pieces” - like the six-line pieces made in response to seed lines - but it could also be speci c moments, for example something seen during the place and space exercise with projected imagery. Use on Post-It to write down each thing you liked. At the end of a rich week, this process tends to involve a lot of Post-It notes….

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Discuss the notes among the group. Take particular note of work that several people have chosen. If there are any “lines of thought” that seem to run through the group’s choices, point those out and discuss them. As a group, sift through the materials and decide which elements are most resonant with you as a team. Next, work with the Post-It notes to create a possible structure for a play. Think about an order in which the di erent moments could come in order to tell a “story” (in the widest sense of the term). Don’t look for consistency of theatrical form - diversity is at the heart of this process. You can move the Post-Its up and down the emerging storyline and see what emerges. You may nd that you need something you had previously discarded to bridge a gap, or (just possibly) that you need to write something new. Look for through-lines. It may be, for example, that the character Dominique played in one scene could also be the character that Pauline played in another. Don’t feel you have to explain every detail - audiences are good at working out what may have happened in between two scenes involving the same person. Once you have created your structure - rehearse the play and perform it back to the group as a whole. In the CRE-ACTORS training week this process led to an extraordinary set of very di erent pieces, drawing o a wide range of styles and forms. Some were comic, some were de nitely not - but all of them enabled participants to see their work being developed, re-purposed and structured towards a possible performance.

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A REFLECTION FROM THE FENCE by Jonathan Meth After more than a year since the pandemic took root in Europe, being able to abandon the con nes of zoom in Paris and work as a group of 20, live, together was of course challenging, but tremendously restorative. The technology at The Cartoucherie was that of the stage, with its spaces, access to substantial prop and costume stores; the capability to transform our working space with freedom. Pre-recorded music was played ad hoc through a small, portable device to drop into our improvisations, but as Dominique and Vincent stressed: our key tools were the body and imagination. In Bologna our hosts used WhatsApp to gather participants’ choices of image and music; these were combined with an object we had brought from home. Our presented texts were then audio recorded, and all these reassembled to be played back to us as audiences of our own – and to each other’s work. This technology interactivity allowed our team of hosts to continue developing our work, outside of the time and space in which the group was working – by dropping out and / or working afterwards to enable an iterative, dynamic build. We could see that this was a key element in the TDA toolkit in enabling di erent groups to see themselves re ected back in working processes – in turn generating ownership and connectivity. In Dublin we started to explore this dynamic a little further, moving from the sonic to the visual. We were asked to bring three photographs with us from our work which resonated interculturally, also sending digital copies to Michael and Lucy - and these became the basis of the opening exercise. In pairs each partner selected one from these, jettisoning the other two. Having discussed the chosen photograph, each person then nds a new partner. This time the new partner is not shown the image and is instead blindfolded. The image is then communicated to the blindfolded partner, but without the use of spoken language. When all partners have done this, the group reassembles and with the image projected behind them, each in turn is invited to conjure from their imaginations what the rest of us are looking at. Michael asks questions of the conjurer which are facilitating, but in no way leading. Aside from the pleasure of the game, in this way we begin to explore the essence of the photograph, the text and the context of the image, what might be conveyed subliminally or associatively. There is also an iterative process away from both the personal (x 2 steps from the photograph owner) as well as the literal - into the imagination. Participants were also asked to take photographs of random locations that struck them while out and about in Dublin. These were then sent to Michael and Lucy and used as projected backdrops against which improvisations played out over the following days. When working in a community space with none of the materials available in the Bolognese Big Tent, let alone the TS stage and theatre, this work becomes an important element to have in the mix. This movement, from theatre to tent to community space, also marked a vital developmental journey which mirrored that of the impact of COVID on the CRE-ACTORS project, where we were progressively less curtailed in what we could do in terms of working more extensively with community participants. So Dublin was both an experience in itself, but also the culmination of what had preceded it. A further example of progressive build across the three locations, culminating in Dublin, was the use of languages. While the project had formally stated that its working language would be in English, it was apposite that by the time we got to our English-speaking Irish hosts, CREACTORS reached a peak of multi-lingualism. In Paris, our Catalan, Chilean and Afghan colleagues would pepper their documentation re ections with their native tongues; but our chief dynamic on the oor was between French and English with only occasional forays into Italian and beyond. In Bologna, while we worked predominantly in English with periodic movements outwards to French or back into Italian, the Umbrella Stories were allowed to be

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presented in any language. For Dublin, our hosts chose to play more consciously with what happens when you have many languages in the room. The improvisation which deliberately paired two sets of languages was extremely important to our understanding of the project as a whole and everyone’s work within it. For frequently these pairings created de facto dominant and subaltern narratives – and invariably opened power structures which can lie embedded, often tacitly. The colonialism of the English is marked by its juxtaposition with Irish; Brazilian Portuguese is too readily the language of the service worker. This process of making tacit knowledge overt is a vital part of our collaborative creative endeavour, giving the lie once again to the proposition of an Empty Space. It is always a negotiation and understanding the underlying power dynamics form a crucial facet of intercultural devising work. Power dynamics are also of course present in many other capacities: host and guest; young and old; experienced and novice; across genders. The process of making work seems to me to be akin to a combination of democracy and despotism. It’s of course more complicated than simply positing the former as good and the latter as bad. What kind of democracy – representative or participatory? What might be required from either / both of these? What kind of despotism – enlightened or unenlightened? Who gets to determine what constitutes enlightenment? Much can be mislaid between the theory of planning and the exigencies of execution. Especially when working with community groups who are immediately – and probably all too frequently - cast in the role of the subaltern; paying rolling attention to how everyone in the room is contracting with each other is critical. The fact that so many people in the room in Dublin felt comfortable using their own languages; across seasoned performers from the core of the project to those just present for the Dublin leg, is both a testament to the care with which CRE-ACTORS had been put together but also the power, with all its bumpinesses, of the negotiated space.

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Nisha Dassyne, Tony Guilfoyle & David Furlong in THE GREAT EXPERIMENT (Border Crossings) Photo: John Cobb

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by Jonathan Meth (The Fence) Created and Performed by Tobi King Bakare Nisha Dassyne Hannah Douglas David Furlong Tony Guilfoyle Also created by Rosanna Lose and Ery Nzaramba Designed by Shiraz Bayjoo Choreographed by Maria Da Luz Ghoumrassi Conceived and Directed by Michael Walling Created with a company of actors from Mauritian, black and white Irish and Scottish backgrounds, THE GREAT EXPERIMENT explored the hidden history of the 2 million Indian migrant labourers indentured to work across the globe for most of the 19th and early 20th centuries and unveiled the roots of the Mauritian, Asian-Caribbean, Malaysian & Asian-African diasporas. The play told two parallel stories – that of the labourers and that of the actors themselves grappling with their own relationships to this di cult history and its enduring e ects that are still felt today. Together they questioned who has the right to tell a story and who has the right to be heard. When I saw the production in February 2020, the audience was full, very appreciative and mixed – including both Mauritian diaspora and others whose families had been a ected by indentured labour. The title of THE GREAT EXPERIMENT refers both to the colonial practice of indentured labour, sustained for over a century to become a mainstay of Britain’s sugar trade in Mauritius, but also the approach formally taken to the making of Border Crossings’ production, which debuted in early 2020. The show opens with actor Tony Guilfoyle on his mobile explaining, via a kind of Prologue, what we (the audience) might reasonably expect: he is recounting what he knows about the process of making a show (this show). This contracting with the audience tells us we will be encountering information, history, knowledge and contested areas. It’s a metatheatrical conceit in which the play speaks about itself, but in so doing grants the audience a way into the eld: one with which - except for diasporic Mauritians – the audience may not be familiar. This strand is intercut with Maria Da Luz Ghoumrassi’s choreography, which moves us far away from naturalism and the present day through slow motion and silent ritual; and with Shiraz Bayjoo’s design, in particular the use of projection to create image, uidity, tempo and atmosphere. Coupled with the strong choices of mood music, these will form the two worlds of the play. A stylised, fully theatrical rendering of the historical material of indentured labourers dating back to the 1830s and 1840s - before the Irish famine and the mid-Century European revolutions which threatened the post Congress of Vienna European world order - is thus juxtaposed with dynamic, contemporary interplay of a mixed group of actors trying to nd their way through the thorny gardens of how to approach Mauritius, Creole, indentured

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BORDER CROSSINGS’ THE GREAT EXPERIMENT


As actor David Furlong46 says in an interview: “For most people, the abolition of slavery represents the end of a globalised trade and legal exploitation of humans. The system of Indentured labour that followed as a replacement to slavery is hardly known to most of the public. It's not taught in common history books. Whenever I talk about the show, people answer that they don't know anything about this world-phenomenon”. Mauritian playwright Dev Virahsawmy47, speaking as the great-grandson of indentured labourers in a discussion on the play, is at pains to underline that indentured labour was palpably di erent from slavery: but if we consider, for example, the ongoing criminalisation of black life in the USA not just through post-Civil War under Jim Crow48, but post Civil Rights under Nixon/Reagan’s war on drugs49, we can see indentured labour as a staging post in ongoing colonial practices. Mauritius didn’t get to be British (1810) until it had been French, Dutch and before that Portuguese. Prior to that it was actually ‘terra nullius’50, with no indigenous human population. So devising a piece without a single author and with actors drawn from di erent backgrounds - including but not limited to Mauritian - would seem to be a productive approach in attempting to wrestle creatively with the challenges of telling the island’s story. The uidity of projected images and soundscapes coupled with simple, clear heightened movement, dramatises the emotions of the mid- C19th characters portrayed through meticulous historical research. This leaves space for polyphonic contemporary debate: generous, funny, but also at times heated and con ictual. The text does this by making use of ‘terra nullius’ in the sense of welcoming all opinions – or “personal truths” - onto the stage. This isn’t an easy watch or listen for the spectator, who has to accept the invitation to adjust their radar away from a single point of view. The play dives straight into issues of colourism and language; apparently privileging “authentic” Mauritian characters, but subverting any easy notion of priority with the revelation from one of the two self-identifying Mauritian performers: “I don’t speak Creole.” Such debates as “Surely you can play whoever you want” and “not being typecast as the Black slave,” are juxtaposed with an illiterate indentured labourer paying to have a letter written; then immediately – and knowingly - rewritten – so that it will pass the censorship of the overseeing masters. As all comedy is based on inappropriateness, these contrasts make for multiple ironies, and with them make it a little easier for audiences to loosen their grip on any xed positions. The climax of the show is built towards in a heatedly replayed loop. This starts when one of the Mauritian performers uncovers the slave-owning ancestry of the Scottish performer; and escalates with Irish performer’s insistence that the treatment of the Irish during 1830s-40s – 46

Interview in Run Riot with actor David Furlong https://www.run-riot.com/articles/blogs/interview-david-furlong-great-experiment-border-crossings 47

Discussion about THE GREAT EXPERIMENT with Mauritian playwright Dev Virahsawmy https://vimeo.com/418400200 48

Jim Crow were state and local laws enforcing racial segregation in the Southern United States, in use until 1964.

49

Since, for example, approximately 80% of crack users were African American, mandatory minimum prison terms led to an unequal increase of incarceration rates for nonviolent Black drug o enders, as well as claims that the War on Drugs was a racist institution. https://www.britannica.com/topic/war-on-drugs 50

‘Terra nullius’ is a term that refers to a “territory without a master.” It is a term used in public international law to describe a space that can be inhabited but that does not belong to a state, meaning the land is not owned by anyone. From the time of Captain Cook's arrival the British Government acted as if Australia were uninhabited. So, instead of admitting that it was invading land that belonged to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, Britain acted as it were settling an empty land.

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labour, slavery, the pro ts of the sugar trade and shifting the lenses of history without reifying those going back almost 200 years.


with hundreds of thousand dying of a colonially imposed famine - means he holds no ‘white privilege’. The Black performer counters that expanding the discussion beyond the enormity of the slave trade might diminish the experience, and importance, of Black people’s history. As one reviewer pointed out, this creates a circular argument that re ects so many divisive discussions today fuelled by contemporary identity politics and the further problematics of a hierarchical, sectarian approach to intersectionality. On the other hand, simply allowing the arguments to co-exist in a space (by playing with time), and - by replaying them - seeking neither synthesis nor teleology51, suggests the possibility for an intercultural theatre not just to air dirty laundry, but to start reimagining the entire clothing store. Crucially, the show doesn’t end with this loop, but with scrolling projected passenger manifests, their names spoken in voiceover. Warm colours surround the performers who turn to face the stage, sharing the same vantage point as the audience. The spectator is thus turned away from the hubbub of argument to a less temporally bound place. Director Michael Walling has written elsewhere that there is no such thing as an ‘empty space’, and in some ways the CRE-ACTORS project has been a multi-faceted journey into the exploration of the late Peter Brook’s52 much vaunted epithet. So while there can be no political tabula rasa53, an engaged theatre (to borrow from Dev Virahsawmy’s French term to describe THE GREAT EXPERIMENT) doesn’t have to be stereotypically political, agit-prop or even Brechtian. Furlong says: “In Michael's work, you feel welcome to make bold o ers and write scenes. You even have to be a pro-active and creative actor. You need to be quite prepared, documented and, at the same time, completely open and able to improvise, and change direction. Devising only operates with good listeners. It's such a collaborative process with actors and the director and also our choreographer. Everybody is imagining the show collectively, and at the same time letting out a lot of themselves. It needs a lot of time and care.” In the Dublin CRE-ACTORS workshop, participants got a small insight into some of the hallmarks of this work. Projection and images, soundscapes, polyphony working across languages and vernaculars - and the personal story as wellspring, but not so that that story becomes mired in realism.

THE GREAT EXPERIMENT Photo: John Cobb

51

Teleology has the basic meaning of the study of ends or purposes: the process by which one attempts to understand the purpose of something by looking at its results. 52

Peter Brook’s (1925-2022) THE EMPTY SPACE (1968) is a key text in the analysis of theatre making.

53

‘Tabula Rasa’ is literally ‘a clean slate’ – with no previous record, history or pre-conceptions.

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Raquel McKee in LIVES IN TRANSLATION (Kabosh Theatre Company)

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Intercultural Theatre in the Aftermath of Con ict Day 2 of the CRE-ACTORS Dublin training ended with a talk by Paula McFetridge (Artistic Director: Kabosh Theatre Company) about her intercultural theatre work in Belfast. Based in the North of Ireland, the company is working in the aftermath of the prolonged civil con ict known as “The Troubles”, with most of its work in some way addressing the legacy of that con ict, and the need for intercultural dialogue between di erent communities in a divided space. While the Kabosh canon is commissioned from Irish playwrights, rather than being devised, the source material is generated through a prolonged and detailed dialogue with community organisations. As Paula explains: “Often a project is the result of a playwright creatively responding to an oral archive undertaken by a community agency. The archive then becomes the catalyst for a ctional drama. The gathered stories are not presented verbatim. This ensures both the original keeper of the story and those who have never heard the narrative before are challenged and encouraged to engage with it…. Basing a new play on a truth, a remembrance, gives it an authenticity that enhances impact and makes audience dismissal more di cult, particularly when dealing with subject matter that challenges deeply held beliefs.”54 Although it is deeply rooted in Belfast, often in speci c physical locations, the company’s work is not only local: it has also travelled internationally, resonating with audiences in places like Rwanda, South Africa and Colombia. The performances are not about re-traumatisation, nor about “living history”. What they are about is humanising those who are perceived to be “Other”. Two Roads West by Laurence McKeown (2008–13) In West Belfast there is a community which is Nationalist, Republican and Catholic, focused on the Falls Road. There is also a community which is Unionist, Loyalist and Protestant, focused on the Shankhill Road. There is a “Peace Wall” which divides the two communities. Public transport was removed from between the two zones, and instead, black taxi cabs are used. So this play that was literally set in the back of a cab. The (very small) audience joined a character in the back seat, who left Belfast at the age of 17, and now returned in her 70s. The driver worked with tourists. The audience watched the city, and particularly experienced the ‘no man’s land’ between the communities. “In developing the script, Laurence McKeown met with several community leaders to ensure the political and historical fact was accurate, and to ensure ownership by residents. In addition, advice was sought from local activists regarding iconic landmarks for the taxi to pause at, and the characters to comment on, so due consideration was given to the narrative the local community would like explored. To keep the production live, the script was updated on a regular basis so any physical

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McFetridge, Paula: “Opening dialogue between communities: arts in the aftermath of con ict” in Peace and Beyond: Re ections on building inclusive and sustainable peace. British Council, 2019: https:// www.britishcouncil.org/sites/default/ les/j063_peace_and_beyond_essays_ nal_web_new_0.pdfj p.35

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KABOSH THEATRE COMPANY


changes on the production route (such as murals, building work or demolition, and signage) were re ected. For many local audience members, the production was the rst time they had ventured to the other side of the peace wall. Often audiences didn’t look at the actors but rather treated the experience like a radio play and watched the city unfold before them. They had safe access to un-curated daily life while listening to a drama. They were a orded the opportunity to look at their city with fresh eyes.”55

“The focus on Kabosh Theatre Company perhaps signals in a symbolic way the meaning of the path taken so far by the CRE-ACTORS project: the awareness of how much theatre can and should be in the life of each of us a means to create civil awareness, even in its apparently less committed components, because the theatre trains us to collateral visions, it induces to group work and always, in its essence, it represents a shared tension towards common objectives. We have experienced all this in the three stages achieved so far with the lightness that the theatrical practice allows: and precisely in this apparent lightness lies the speci c weight of its strength.” (Nicola Bonazzi)

TWO ROADS WEST (Kabosh Theatre Company)

Ibid. p.38

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This is What We Sang by Gavin Kostick (2009-10)

THIS IS WHAT WE SANG (Kabosh Theatre Company)

Belfast is a city obsessed with religion, but the Synagogue in Belfast was a narrative that had never been looked at. The company was approached by a Jewish Elder to archive memories from the ageing community. So they undertook 45 interviews, discussing their experience of sectarianism, prejudice, and new arrivals, and the myth that the community had reduced in size because of the sectarian con ict. These stories were passed to a playwright, so that they could be seen through a new lens and taken on a journey. Gavin Kostick, was the playwright chosen: he is third generation Jewish. The play was performed in the Belfast synagogue, begging the question of how to respect the ritualistic nature of the space. People from other communities were also curious about this building, which itself became an attraction to, and a central element in, the performance. “Intrinsic to the production is its site-speci c nature, with the environs of Belfast Synagogue aptly reinforcing many of the themes of judgement explored in the text. Standing on a raised central platform in a circular synagogue, whose roof is supported by concrete beams which form the shape of the Star of David, the characters tell the stories of their lives, presenting themselves not only to the audience but also to a higher power. Inscriptions on the wall in Hebrew tell us ‘Know before whom you stand’ while a small blue lamp signals the eternal nature of God. Both the performers and the audience are clearly visible as the production asks us to ponder who is judging who, and who are we to judge.”56

56

Whyte, Pádraic: Review of “This is What We Sang”. Irish Theatre Magazine, October 2009. http://itmarchive.ie/ web/Reviews/Current/This-is-What-We-Sang.aspx.html

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The piece was also invited to New York to be staged in a Tribeca synagogue. In Ireland there is traditionally support among the artistic community for the Palestinian people and their plight. Many Irish artists had signed a petition in support of the people of Gaza. The Elders of the Jewish communities in Dublin and Belfast became aware of this, leading to a threat to withdraw the invitation. Gavin Kostick, for example, had signed, and so didn’t go to New York. In the end the Chair of the Tribeca synagogue said that this consideration should not stop the performances. Paula explained to us: “Be prepared to negotiate. Be clear what the line of compromise is. You have to be prepared to walk away. Find the gatekeepers. Negotiate with the community.” Lives in Translation by Rosemary Jenkinson (2017-18) This production dealt with the experiences of recent migrants to Northern Ireland in the postcon ict period, when racial attacks have increased by 75%. The company worked with Somali refugees and asylum seekers, interviewing 25 people (including support agency and local government workers as well as the refugees themselves). “Before touring, the venue… was a vast empty warehouse on Belfast’s Boucher Road. Three sides of the pop-up theatre were metal transport containers and so bleak was the setting that the actors' voices had an eerie echo, which was most e ective for this riveting story. It's a venue I’ve no doubt will be used again. Asha (Raquel McKee) is a Somali woman caught in a web of bureaucracy when she ees her home in Mogadishu, hopeful of gaining asylum, and so of eventually bringing her family away from the dreadfulness of this war zone. She wants to go to America but ends up in Dublin where she is schooled for her court appearance – and this is where mistranslation rst causes authority to doubt her evidence, as she says the big tribes never see the little tribes. She’s a pawn, moved from Dublin, to Belfast, Glasgow, Manchester, London, Dublin, to Belfast – non-stop, vicious o cialdom and no conclusion, only peaks and troughs of emotion as her asylum application is refused over and over again. Three years multiply, until 10 years-plus have passed and she’s lost in the system.”57 At a post-show discussion, Paula told us, someone asked: “Where are all the black faces in the audience?” The important answer, from a Somali performer, was: “They know the story, you don’t.”

57

Hailes, Anne: Review in “The Irish News”, 2nd November 2017. https://www.irishnews.com/arts/2017/11/04/news/ lives-in-translation-a-compelling-play-about-awful-plight-of-people-seeking-asylum-1178550/

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Je suis un bonsaï et je suis si heureux depuis qu'ils ont annoncé quelque chose appelé le con nement, à la radio, car Edward passe beaucoup de temps à prendre soin de moi. Couper mes branches, nettoyer mes feuilles, il m'arrose, me met au soleil, il y a des jours où il me chante des chansons et me parle! Je suis si heureux. Ah! Edward arrive! Ce matin, j'ai très soif! Eh! Edward! J'ai entendu à la radio que le con nement était terminé! Maintenant, nous pouvons sortir pour prendre l'air et le soleil ensemble au jardin! Edward court vers la porte puis le silence. Edward? Edward? ... oh merde! (Andrea Formantel)

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“Translation is the social practice of embracing the existence of the other.” (Sarah Maitland - Lecturer in Translation Studies) “Only he who is well prepared has any opportunity to improvise.” (Ingmar Bergman)

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4. STOCKHOLM • ABC - The Fence • Introduction to The Fence • A Re ection on the CRE-ACTORS project - Jonathan Meth

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STORYTELLING WALK in So a. (The Fence) Photo: Jonathan Meth

FESTIVAL DU MORT project at Bazar Café, La Charité-sur-Loire. (The Fence) Photo: Jonathan Meth

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ABC - THE FENCE A for ANARCHY: no institution, no corporation, no obligation, only the desire to be together… Anarchy, a word that can create many things. Why not?58

B as BRAVE: be brave enough to be together in anarchy, why not? And B for BOAT: a ship that carries many people ghting against rough waves, but that nevertheless manages to stand up, why not?

C as CREATIVES while remaining COLLABORATIVE and thus creating a COMMUNITY: why not? D like DRAMATURG, our identity card: why not? E like EARTHQUAKE, of consciences, of history, of easy certainties: why not? F for FRIENDSHIP: the one that bounds us despite diversity. Why not? G for GUADALUPE: only those who were not there know what they missed, but precisely because they were not there, they now dream of Guadalupe. Why not? Or G for GUESTING, which is together with the

H of HOSTING: Guesting and Hosting are a constant training, because they are not easy practices. Why not?

I for INFORMAL: the opposite of Formal, or what we are not, what we don't want to be. Why not?

J for JONATHAN: if he didn't exist, he would have to be created. Why not? K for KING, Martin Luther: his home, his church, his places. Unforgettable. Why not? L for LEARNING and LONG-TERM LEARNING: to be long-term committed… will we make it? Why not?

M for MISUNDERSTANDING EACH OTHER SINCE 2003: our MOTTO, that means to understand each other within diversity. Why not?

N as NETWORK, no need of explanations O as O’NEILL, EUGENE: a model. Why not? P for PLAYWRIGHT: our identity card together with DRAMATURG, and P for POSSIBILITY: to be many, to be di erent, a sea of possibilities. Why not?

Q for QUIET: in silence, without being seen, you can do a lot of things. Why not? R as RELATIONSHIP but also as RETREAT: in di erent places, to talk and confront each other. Listen to the ABC at https://bit.ly/3DqG2s4

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S

For example, once in an as SAUNA: some dressed, some naked, some half and half: united but di erent, even in the sauna… Why not? And

S like SCRATCH: scratch the texts to see what comes out. Why not?

T like TEACHING: LONG-TERM TEACHING just like LONG-TERM LEARNING, why not? U as UNDERGROUND and UNDER RADAR: it’s where we move, but our action is visible V for VARIETY: not the magazine, but everything that characterises us. Why not? W as WE and as WELCOME: because we say to anybody entering: “Welcome, now You are We”. Why not?

X as XTEND: shortened version for extending (boundaries, relationships) and also X as the crossings where you can meet and mix. Why not?

Y as Y NOT? For example, why not nishing this abbecedario with

Y? Why not? No? So…

Z as ZANZIBAR: haven't been there yet, but we will. Why not

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THE FENCE Purpose of the Fence The Fence was founded on the core principles of: • the importance of the playwright to wider culture and society • that in practice, diversity and mobility are the same thing, • and that through engagement with others our own work develops. The network exists as a space to think, to be and to do. The Fence aims to open up routes to work opportunities for playwrights and theatre-makers, seeking to extend their work beyond their own national and infrastructural boundaries. The founding aim was to create a network that was based primarily on relationships, rather than scripts and translations, that would enable people to come together and work out for themselves what they wanted to do together. Fence network meetings The Fence typically runs meetings twice yearly. These usually last between ve and eight days. Fence meetings occur either as part of a wider festival (for example D-CAF in Cairo or the Istanbul International Theatre Festival) or as a retreat, or as a satellite meeting to the IETM (International Network for Contemporary Performing Arts), or for a speci c pedagogical purpose. Fence meetings typically feature 10-25 visitor members, combining with up to a similar number of home-based members. Together we: • Meet playwrights, dramaturgs and cultural operators from each host country, learn about their systems & structures and opportunities & challenges for indigenous playwrights - as well as foreign ones. • Meet each other and pursue peer-led professional development activity which focuses on how to operate as a theatre maker in a changing landscape. • Put work on – in a scratch form - work created: written, directed and acted by participants as a practical laboratory way of generating material, engagement, excitement, partnership and exchange. • Make connections beyond the network; both to grow the number of countries represented beyond 50, but also to engage with a broader focus than just playwriting. Fence network membership Fence Membership is via recommendation from existing members. The aim is to build membership geographically, and to achieve a balance across gender, age and ethnicity. Membership has grown organically to its current level of 250 people from 50 countries, from an initial gathering of 25 in 2003. There is no membership fee. Together we work collaboratively to make things happen. The network focuses on individuals and works with institutions to make face-to-face meetings. Fence structure The Fence is owned by everyone across the network. Prized by its members chie y for its informality, it maintains no ongoing bureaucratic or administrative base. From 2017 The Fence has been head-quartered in Stockholm. The Fence is curated / directed by Jonathan Meth, who is based in Florence. The Board comprises: Oladipo Agboluaje, Fred Fortas, Amelia Parenteau, Aiste Ptakauske, Edward (Bu alo) Bromberg, and Sara Shaarawi.

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Recent Fence Projects 1. The Fence, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the United Kingdom, & Dutch Performing Arts together collaborated (2019-22) on BOOM! - a new project exploring, via the work of 7 Dutch and UK playwrights and theatre makers the shared colonial heritage of the UK & the Netherlands. 2. FESTIVAL DU MORT was a two-day Halloween 2018 Bazar Cafe production in La Charité sur Loire which showcased excerpts from plays by Fence writers, staged across di erent spaces in the building. The event's French name (“Festival of Death" in English) is a play on the Loire town's famous literary festival, the “Festival du Mot." 3. IRELAND HAS STRUCK OIL – BUT WILL IT BE NORWAY OR NIGERIA? was a 2017 performance project from The Fence in partnership with King’s College’s Arts and Humanities Festival: World Service. It staged and audio recorded performance and discussion for a live audience on an imagined future scenario, mapping crisis in Europe from creative, journalistic & academic perspectives. The follow-up project – GREECE IS GONE - is scheduled for Dublin in 2023 The Fence and CRE-ACTORS The role of The Fence, as a dramaturgical partner, has been to o er a structure for the evaluation of the di erent training courses and the methodologies that they contain. The nal afternoon of each training week was given over to a session, led by The Fence, to enable participants to re ect on their learning during the week, and to apply it to the needs identi ed by the project in their organisations, their communities, their countries and across Europe. Participants also wrote reports on the residencies they attended. All of this material was documented as each residency occurred so as to create a shared track record of activity, responses and dramaturgical analysis. This in turn has fed into the creation of this e-book. For this project, The Fence bene ted from its relationship with Riksteatern in Stockholm who hosted our project management group meeting and provided us with rich insights into some of their working practices. This was enabled by Fence member Edward Bromberg, for ten years a dramaturg at Riksteatern – who also participated in the wider CRE-ACTORS project.

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by Jonathan Meth What immediately becomes clear when working in the ways we have described in this e-book is that while co-creation is collaborative, the decision-making power in the creative choices made is at a times a messy combination of di erent voices, passed on, remixed, repurposed, recombined and replayed. Working as a dramaturgical outside eye to the CRE-ACTORS Project, from The Fence, I have drawn in particular on the thinking and practice of my Fence colleagues: Edward Bromberg and Debbie Seymour. While I am making editorial choices as to what you read, it seems vital to me to o er a concluding narrative which draws on this process of ‘assemblage’. These (my re ections) are thus drawn from the thinking of participants across the project. For theatre makers reading this e-book from the point of view of the craft, Xevi Ribas’ summary is superbly succinct: “I think that as a nexus of union in the three stages, they have given me tools to be able to start working, to be able to break the cursed blank page. In Paris, it was from the music, the costumes, the space (circular), from the premise of a place (an island) and a situation, from a text (Shakespeare's THE TEMPEST). In Bologna, the method to take the rst step came from the objects (the suitcases, the umbrellas, the stool,...), the application of some rules to be able to improvise, from a personal lived experience (the con nement). In Dublin, on the other hand, we started from the images, from two sentences, and above all from the theme: interculturality.” For those focused on working with di erent communities: “When I work with communities and schoolchildren in di culty, the most important thing is their human development, that they appropriate the space, a safe space where it is possible to “be”, to breathe, to look at each other, to dream, to imagine, to communicate without violence, transform realities, play, laugh. The work we did this week has everything to do with what I mentioned earlier, this way of working where there is space for everyone, where everything is possible.

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A REFLECTION ON THE CRE-ACTORS PROJECT


(Andrea Formantel) “The process is simple, honest and collective..… The process starts playful, without knowing what will happen. This could be relevant working with a community group - we are often very focused on getting to an end point and allowing space and time for group dynamic and to nd a collective language could be very useful. No-one has a xed part, and the process is about making something together. Working in small groups, on an idea that is then shared. The process is repeated, watched and ideas/ characters/costumes used by one group can used by another and developed/played in another way as a collective. The process started from the premise that everyone is equal, and everyone can contribute. Starting from playing enables everyone to engage and develop way of working together.” (Lucy Dunkerley) Widening the lens to look at the mechanics of interculturality across the 3 workshop weeks: “I'm really interested in further exploring the ethics of working with non-actors and their stories and how that speci cally impacts practice throughout the progress of making work, in particular in the use of personal narratives (however disguised), how material is generated, and in understanding how the selection and organisation of generated material sits in tension between the need for a coherent and e ective artistic shape and the ownership of the contributors of how they are represented. This was touched on in Bologna by Andrea when he mentioned a lot of groups working with refugees in Italy, but not always ethically. Michael also used the phrase: "nothing about us without us". How do we constantly refresh and clarify the parameters of control and power over the narrative that is produced? Dominique spoke of the necessary appropriation of stories - how does this play out in the necessary and sometimes fraught dialogues about cultural appropriation? I'm not interested in political correctness, but I am interested in how to manage the ethics. There is another (related) area which has given me a lot of food for thought in my practice: the model of a collaborative, non-hierarchical model for generating material and a solo leader who selects and shapes it and how these work in tension with each other. I'm often challenging myself to curtail my own instinct to shape and control too early in a making process, but tend to take responsibility for the nal shaping decisions. Working with both professional or training actors from other cultures, should I be exploring more ways to be pluralistic in the decision-making process that impacts aesthetics, structure and content? I was struck by how Andrea Paolucci used language to constantly remind us that the company was sharing a practice used with a wide range of participants - "if you were inexperienced actors who presented this, I would probably say that you should…" There was something liberating about this reminder that our creative work, although valued in itself, was not the end of what we were doing. So we were both invested in the creative practice and in its consideration, without sacri cing one to the other. The perceived status of the di erent spaces seemed important. In France, the space felt holy and that it was a privilege to be there. This was both intimidating and inspiring. The feeling of being allowed into a special club. The space in Italy was still a professional theatre space, but with the aesthetic of the circus and the temporary. It was easy to imagine a non-theatre audience in it as both audience and participants.

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Where “imagining changes the world” is already changing our realities, concretely, together. Because something, inside, changes, so the perception of reality is transformed and new possibilities appear, new ways of seeing and feeling.”


The space in Dublin didn’t feel easy for practical theatre work, but did feel very pertinent for the project; the space belonged to the community, we were sharing it with disabled people and it was a good reminder of the contexts that much of this work may take place in.” (Debbie Seymour) Widening further still: “In Chile, in general, companies don’t have a xed space to rehearse, or create, or dream and to devote themselves to the theatre, they must rst cover their own economic needs.” (Andrea Formantel) This observation about rehearsal space and time asks an important question about the economic underpinning of any methodological approach to making work. How much time is bought and who pays? In this case our thanks go to the European Union and the Erasmus+ programme… So CRE-ACTORS becomes a kind of realisation of a dream… but inevitably, largely within the context of wealthy Western Europe. Consider for a moment the operational obstacles to working on such a project with The Global South. To truly work interculturally, Europe cannot be simply a hard border. “This experience was really a re ection of the theatrical work at the Théâtre du Soleil, hard work, a long path to meet the theatre, the possibility of devoting yourself to the work thanks to a magni cent theatre which welcomes you. I think this is our dream of theatre. The dream exists. It’s a lot of work, it’s always a lot of e ort, but the dream is possible… The characters speak, and di erent incarnations give them a voice (interpretations in di erent esh), it’s a way of listening to the theatre. Finally we are at the service of the theatre we cannot force against its natural and or divine laws.” (Andrea Formantel) If we lay bare the magic (of these natural and divine laws) do we see a divine right of kings or a glorious bouillabaisse, or…? Is Andrea’s deeply felt plea for us to imagine together tantamount to a Third Space? How do multiple voices of di erent cultures t together? “They come together through the proposals of each person, fed by their own culture, their own imagination, their own references. It can be a character, a costume, a reaction, music or a song, which will lead to a dance by someone else… We don’t try to “give everyone a voice”. That is done in the course of the work. Obviously, the director’s role is fundamental! They are the one who will decide that the show will go more in one direction than another. More dance, more inspiration from English cinema or Japanese theatre, for example. The actors make their proposals within this framework.” (Vincent Mangado) Recently a paragraph from a book called THE ELEMENTS OF ELOQUENCE went viral on social media. It stated that there was a rule, not widely known, regarding the use of adjectives in the English language. The rule is that multiple adjectives are always ranked accordingly: opinion, size, age, shape, colour, origin, material, purpose - noun. In that order. The example given is: “a lovely little old rectangular green French silver whittling knife”. Try playing around with the sequence… Who knew? In our passionate belief in the theatre as a force for good, we can sometimes be prone to imagine that anything is possible. And of course on a certain level – it is, and to be sure must

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be. But contained within the apparent openness of the theatrical space there may be rules, and indeed hierarchies – if only they could be clearly articulated. In many ways working interculturally – especially working with community groups with little or no acculturation to formal theatre practices – is a journey of discovery of these rules and how to play together with them. Put another way, it is about making tacit knowledge explicit. Because theatre contains a certain amount of smoke and mirrors, or at least wilful disguise, as part of its DNA, this is not always a straightforward route to goal. “It feels as if we need not only to understand, listen / perceive but also de-programme some of our own process instincts in order to even have an inkling. It made me think about the philosopher and cognitive scientist Hanne de Jaegher's ideas of knowing and loving, of letting go whilst perceiving as an extension of the embodied cognition theory… …To me, Elvira/Ingrid (a character from one of the Paris improvisations) became what she became, in an e ort from me to get away from “beautiful girls that boys fall in love with”. It was a rescue. Characters that would have truly come from my imagination would have been di erent. So, what they are, are collective ideas. A generalisation in between many imaginations and cultural in uences. This is where I feel they end up coming, not from the artistic interests and visions of me for example, but from our cultural repository.” (Hanna Slättne) In his introduction to this e-book, Michael speaks of: “the new interculturalism that is emerging from the pluralistic nature of contemporary social and political space” and invites us: “to conceive of a theatre that is multiform and various, a shared space that yields innovation through the clash of distinct viewpoints and approaches, rooted in ongoing dialogues between artists from di erent backgrounds, and informed by potent overlaps between friendship and disagreement…So perhaps what we should be striving towards is neither a theatre of detachment nor a theatre of lived experience, but a theatre in which everyone is constantly self-aware and self-critical, working towards a recognition of where they stand in relation to the theme, raising the consciousness of the audience through the process of raising their own”. (Michael Walling) As a companion to the edited documentation of what we did during the weeks of work in Paris, Bologna and Dublin, and what some of the participants thought, readers might nd the reviews of work made by each of the theatre companies particularly illuminating, as they provide a kind of bridge from these re ections back into practice as manifest in recent performances: L’ÎLE D’OR, L’EREDITÀ DI BABELE, and THE GREAT EXPERIMENT. Three very di erent reviewers will also give you distinct lenses on these works. What these di erences do, as they pull, ostensibly, in di erent directions, is create a space, into which you – dear reader - can step, start to move around and interrogate. But the space is not an empty one. It is, perhaps, a “third space”. Third things (spaces, ways) can easily get bandied about and readily become catch-alls. Third space theory is associated with Homi Bhaba as a post colonial sociolinguistic theory of identity and community. Bhaba talks of: “that space where oppressed and oppressor are able to come together, free (maybe only momentarily) of oppression itself, embodied in their particularity”59. Although I have deployed the Saidean terms of dominant and subaltern as a quick marker to illustrate power di erences and the need for them to be made explicit, I

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Bhabha, Homi: THE LOCATION OF CULTURE. London, Routledge. 1994

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don’t want the discourse to be circumscribed by either that binary or hierarchies of oppression. Third Space has also been described by Homi Bhabha as the hybrid cultural identity which emerges from the interweaving elements of di erent cultures. Bhabha posits hybridity as a liminal or in-between space, where the “cutting edge of translation and negotiations”60 occurs. Hanna Slättne makes reference to the work of philosopher and social scientist Hanne de Jaegher, who in examining the role of social interaction processes in subjectivity and intersubjectivity, investigates how we think and play together. This work looks at the space in between, not as terra nullius, but a space to be investigated by those together inhabiting it – and that space includes ourselves. As Rosalind Fielding says in her review of L’ÎLE D’OR, many kyogen plays begin: “I am one who comes from around here”. As in this production, intercultural theatres need to o er “a place where ‘here’ is both a place of exile and welcome, somewhere both strange and familiar, a place where wonder interrupts what we think we know and asks us to think again”.

Bhabha op.cit.

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“The theatre is the art of the other.” (Ariane Mnouchkine)

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AFTERWORD - PARIS • “Voices of the Sky” - a conversation between Ariane Mnouchkine and Michael Walling

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Ariane Mnouchkine directs Sarah Gougam and Stéphanie Masson in LE DERNIER CARAVANSÉRAIL (Théâtre du Soleil) Photo: Michèle Laurent

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VOICES OF THE SKY A conversation between Ariane Mnouchkine and Michael Walling Although presented as an Afterword, this conversation in fact took place many years before the CRE-ACTORS project, on 12th December 2004. I had just watched the 6-hour performance of LE DERNIER CARAVANSÉRAIL at the Cartoucherie. This was a devised piece in many languages, portraying episodes from the lives of refugees. It had been meticulously researched through interviews, and some of this material was directly included in the play in the form of recorded voices. Also present at this discussion were two other members of the Théâtre du Soleil company, Patricia Cano and Astrid Grant. During our conversation, Ariane discussed how her approach to devising intercultural theatre was shifting in the creation of LE DERNIER CARAVANSÉRAIL, as the company responded to migration, its global causes and its reception. My own approach was also altering around this time, with a growing interest in the cultural speci cs of each cre-actor and a sense that our stage was at once local and global. Our exchange compounded a growing awareness of the artist’s position in history, and of the need to develop new approaches to intercultural devising that respond to the shifting tides within and around a rapidly changing Europe. - MW * MW: The work I'm doing with Border Crossings is about theatres of the dispossessed and postcolonial theatres, so it's been very interesting for me today to watch how in this production you give voice to so many people who do not have a voice - absolutely literally in some ways. I'm intrigued how you take stories from places like Afghanistan, from Iran, from Iraq, and lter them through people from many many other countries: the French, the Australians, Peruvian Canadians…. Do you feel that this process somehow makes the stories you're telling more “universal”? Or is it that the having actors from so many di erent countries in a way gives it an objectivity, with them having a distance from the testimonies? AM: We have in the play the voices of the refugees, from the interviews that I made… MW: And you also have your own voice in a way, and the voices of the actors… AM: Yes, but the voices of the actors are esh and blood - they are real without any tech or anything, they are just on stage. There’s no actors speaking [in the recorded refugee interviews] except one, and when he speaks on the screen and his voice is taped, he's not an actor that time, he is just the son, just a Kurd coming from Iraq who writes to his father. So it's just di erent really: the voice of the refugees are there like… MW: A testimony? AM: No - voices of the sky, really… MW: Tell me about the reason for doing this sort of work particularly in France. Of course you’re French and that’s the reason you do it here - but how do you feel about the relationship of France to the wider world? Particularly to its former colonies? AM: In fact, strangely enough, there's no former colony of France in this play. MW: No, I know… AM: There could have been - but it’s not something on the old French Empire at all.

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MW: But France features very strongly in it. AM: Well that is because it happens in France, Sangatte was in France. But the relationship from France towards the wider world as you say - I think France has a relationship to the wider world, which is not always the case I think of England, for example. France, with all its defects and weaknesses, still has a relationship to the wider world. But you see this is not a reason for us to do this play - but the reason probably is that when I suggested to the actors the theme it was because I wanted to see this theme on stage, I wanted to see this play and if they accepted the suggestion it's probably because they wanted to see it also. Or maybe they wanted to be in it…. But it's a question of a necessity. I think one does not make a show or something just because we have to make another thing. It's that suddenly it is completely necessary, and nothing else is possible than that. When I suggest something to the actors, when I make a proposition, I never say “Well okay, I have three propositions… we could do this or we could do that, or we could do that..” I never had to say that, because I never was in the mood, and I had one proposition for them and that was all! And if they refuse it I'm very annoyed! MW: Has it ever happened that they've refused it? AM: I think in a way they were not interested once or twice, and I had to change. But luckily it didn’t happen very often. It happened once, I remember, and I think they were right. MW: And this play feels so necessary. AM: I think this play is necessary, yes. MW: I did think the play was absolutely extraordinary and quite wonderful - and I'm very interested in what you left out of it. Even in the map up there behind us61, there is no America, and America is very conspicuous by its absence from the play. Is that a deliberate decision or did it just happen? AM: No, but the people we met, the people we’re talking about are not on the roads of exile because of America. We started, I started working on the play around May 2001. It was before - everything62. It was before everything, and things were better… So of course we could start saying “Oh well, in Afghanistan, the Americans…..” But if we say that and if we want to be honest then we have to say “Yes, but then the Russians…” So everyone is asking “Why not the Americans?” because everybody would like the Americans to get a punch in the nose in that play. Everybody should get a punch in the nose, I think. Everybody. Everybody. MW: I think you do. Sitting, watching it, as an English person I felt very “punched in the nose”, and it was strange for me to get pleasure from that but I did. I'm interested in the style and form of the play as well, because it seems very di erent from your previous work. Normally you're very in uenced by Asian theatre, and you use an enormous amount of mask work. This didn't feel like a masked drama to me. Is it? Or have you worked di erently on this? AM: Yes, I think it’s di erent. But it's not out of our way. I think it's a normal evolution for the contemporary world. If you look at it, it is still very much in uenced by the Asian dramas. After all, the actors are manipulated - in a completely di erent way but -

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This was the map painted on the back wall of the foyer space for this production, showing global refugee routes across Eurasia, Africa and the Paci c, including Australia but not the Americas. 62

This is a reference to the attacks on the World Trade Centre and other US targets on 11th September 2001, and the subsequent “War on Terror”, which began with the US invasion of Afghanistan.

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Delphine Cottu and Sarkaw Gorany in LE DERNIER CARAVANSÉRAIL (Théâtre du Soleil) Photo: Michèle Laurent

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MW: Those little trucks63 are like a mask, I suppose. AM: Yes. But you’re right - there's no mask and the style of acting is very di erent. I was always asking, I heard myself saying very very often “This is too theatrical”. And when I was saying that to them, I thought “My God! I am saying something that I never thought I would say - ever! No careful - it’s too theatrical…” But - but what I meant was - it’s not that I wanted them to be realistic: I wanted the acting to be transparent. So interiorised that in fact it won ’t show that they are acting. It would just be like living, but living on the stage is di erent from living you know… MW: It feels like living without the psychological baggage. AM: Exactly, exactly. Without the psychological weight, I would say. MW: So that the performance is very clear. Do you think your work will go more in this direction after this play? AM: (laughing) I have nothing to say because I have two people here eagerly waiting to know what I'm going to answer so I'm not going to tell. Astrid Grant: (laughing) Shall we go? AM: I can't tell him before telling you64. MW: There are some things in here which are very consistent with stu you've done before though - like the nature of the space. The things you ll it with are perhaps not, but the emptiness is, the magni cence of that emptiness is, and the light - the way you put in the neon..… I think it’s like outdoor Asian temple theatre, isn’t it? AM: Exactly. MW: Is that where you draw all your inspiration from, is that your model? (Pause) AM: If you don’t make it ‘a theory’, I will say “Yes”. If you make it a theory I will say “No, I don't know”. But it is true, I think I need that sky. Not only because the Cartoucherie is a bit low… when it started we put the sky because we felt that this beautiful place has one defect and it's a bit low, it should be higher, so we put the sky and then we didn't mind anymore about it. But it's also because, probably, that the theatre is always in front of something - of a temple, a church, an inn, like Shakespeare. MW: And it gives you clarity. AM: I think it gives us a lot of of things, which probably nobody knows about - but feels. MW: An openness. 63

In LE DERNIER CARAVANSÉRAIL, characters stood on wheeled trucks, which were pushed by other actors, known among the company as “porters”. These gures perhaps derived from the “puppeteers” who appeared to manipulate the bodies of the actors playing the puppet characters in TAMBOURS SUR LA DIGUE (1999), and beyond them to the masks derived from commedia and from Asian traditions, which Mnouchkine calls the “masters” of the performers. The idea of the mask, or another force external to the performer, “manipulating” the performer seems to me to be central to the Soleil’s practice. 64

Shortly after this conversation, Ariane proposed to the company that the next project should be the lmed version of LE DERNIER CARAVANSÉRAIL.

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AM: Yes, probably. MW: Another question about Asia and the mask, because I also work a great deal with masks65 and I love what the mask does to a performer. Your work, clearly in this play and by repute is very political - but I'm also wondering if there's something spiritual about what you do and whether the mask is in a sense to do with a sort of priestly function in the actor or a spiritual function. AM: Spiritual certainly: priestly, I don't know. I think there is spirituality in every sincere theatrical or artistic action, really. I don't think an artistic work is really possible without at least a longing for spirituality, a desire of spirituality. That's what I think, I'm not sure it’s true, but what I think is that. So when you say mask is spiritual, well yes, mask - but there are painters who will tell you that painting of an apple is a spiritual gesture. MW: Is that linked to your use of nature in this play? The trees? AM: I don’t know, because the trees - it was a present. In every sense of the word. I received the present because after a workshop, the pupils of this workshop o ered me an absolutely lovely little olive tree and we used that olive tree during our rst rehearsals. We couldn’t put this olive tree every time in Bosnia or Australia, but I was thinking “I miss a tree because I don't have the depth without a tree”, and then two of the actors started making trees, and they started making beautiful trees and making di erent trees, and so it was another present. But I did not ask for trees at the beginning. I just accepted trees. And probably that was my gift: it was to accept. MW: And then there's another gift when the trees themselves accept the body of the bride AM: Yes. MW: - which is the most incredible moment because there you really do go beyond naturalism and you do something metaphysical. How that did that happen? AM: I don’t know. I can hear myself saying to the tree “Please go near…” MW: It’s a wonderful moment. It’s very pure. What do you think about the audience you get for this work? AM: I love them. Most of the time, I would say 99 % of the time I like the public. I think when people come here - I don't know, something happens. They become nice. Light. Tender. Concentrated. It’s very strange… MW: I think it's to do with the space you’ve created here, isn’t it? And the atmosphere? AM: Yes it has to do with the space and it has to do with education - but why is it that there are so few spaces like that, and why is that when you go somewhere else somebody just throws you a ham sandwich, and not a look, not a smile? When the door opens, they come in, we try to be nice and I would say elegant with them - and they become nice! MW: Would you like it if the audience were more culturally mixed? AM: They are culturally mixed! 65

Strangely, this discussion took place around the time Border Crossings stopped working with mask. It wasn’t a conscious decision, but we became more interested in what each performer could bring to the process by virtue of their own individuality and identity, rather than calling on the mask to bring a di erent personality into their bodies.

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MW: Are they? AM: Oh come on! MW: Well I don't know - I was only here today… AM: Of course, we have a very mixed audience. Very mixed. We have people coming from all sorts of horizons, especially among the young people. Some of them come in the theatre for the rst time in their lives. MW: And then disappointed when they go to other theatres I suppose? AM: (laughing) That I can’t say! MW: And you get people like me who come on a pilgrimage from a long way…..

Il était une fois, une jolie princesse enfermée dans un chateau, illuminé d’une lumière magique. Son trone était immense et orange. Elle était enfermée par une terrible sorcière qui avait répandu une terrible odeur dans toute la région. Un jour, elle décida d’être courageuse et de combattre la sorcière. Elle sortit et réalisa que la sorcière n’était autre que Billy, le fermier, qui prenait soin des champs. Le soleil brillait. Quelle magie puissante se dégageait. Dans le pays de la princesse, il ne faisait que pleuvoir. Les regards de Billy et de la Princesse se rencontrèrent, ils tombèrent amoureux, mais n’eurent jamais d’enfants car ils réalisaient qu’ils étaient trop bruyants. (Alice Milléquant)

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Ariane Mnouchkine directs LE DERNIER CARAVANSÉRAIL (Théâtre du Soleil) Photo: C.H. Bradier

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THE CRE-ACTORS

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Name - Kunle Animashaun Place of birth - Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria Organisation - Border Crossings and Camino Productions Where I work - Ireland Role - Director Mother tongue - Yoruba Other languages - English

Name - Caterina Bartoletti Place of Birth - Bologna, Italia Organisation - Teatro dell’Argine Where I work - Bologna Roles - actress, teacher Mother tongue - Italian Other languages - English

Name - Nicola Bonazzi Place of birth - Bologna, Italy Organisation - Teatro dell’Argine Where I work - Bologna Roles - playwright, director, theatre teacher, co-art director TdA Mother tongue - Italian Other languages - French, English

Name - Edward Bromberg Place of birth - Landstühl, Germany Organisation - The Fence and Riksteatern Where I work - Sweden Roles - dramaturge, translator, project manager, senior advisor Mother tongue - English Other languages - uent Swedish, rudimentary Spanish and Italian

Name - Micaela Casalboni Place of birth - Rimini, Italy Organisation - Teatro dell’Argine Where I work - Bologna Roles - actress, theatre teacher, director, co-art director TdA Mother tongue - Italian Other languages - English, French, German

Name – Lucy Dunkerley Place of birth - Beverley, England Organisation - Border Crossings Where I work – Ireland, UK, internationally Roles - Associate Director Facilitator, Director, Dramaturg Mother tongue – Yorkshire English Other languages – French, German, Italian, BSL (British Sign Language)

Name: Rosalind Fielding Place of birth: Bolton, UK Organisation: Border Crossings, Couvent des Recollets, Panthea Where I work: Ireland, France, Japan Roles: Dramaturg, researcher, writer, translator, subtitler Mother tongue: English Other languages: Japanese, French, Turkish

Name - Andrea Doria Formantel Riquelme Place of birth - Punta Arenas, Chile Organisation - Théâtre du Soleil Where I work - Paris and Santiago Roles - Actress, theatre teacher, theatre bar, defender of joy Mother tongue - Spanish Other languages - French, basic English and a little Italian

Name - Paolo Fronticelli Place of birth - Modena, Italy Organization - Teatro dell’Argine Where I work - Bologna Roles - theatre teacher, actor, director Mother tongue - Italian Other languages - English, French

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Name - Dominique Jambert Born - Mont-de-Marsan, Landes, France. Organisation - Théâtre du Soleil Where I work - Mainly in Paris. Roles - Actress in theatre and cinema, teacher sometimes, drummer, dreamer… Mother tongue - French Other languages - English, Spanish

Name - Vincent Mangado Place of birth - Toulouse, France Organisation - Théâtre du Soleil Where I work - Paris, mostly Roles - Actor, director, teacher Mother tongue - French Other languages - English, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, German, Persian, Occitan, and a bit of Japanese.

Name - Jonathan Meth Place of Birth - London, UK Organisation - The Fence Where I work - Internationally Roles - Network Director, Dramaturg at Large, Lecturer Mother tongue - English Other languages - French, some German and Italian, a little Hebrew.

Name - Alice Milléquant Place of Birth - Lisieux, Normandy, France Organisation - Théâtre du Soleil Where I work - Mainly in Paris Role - Actress Mother tongue - French Other languages - English, German, a bit of Italian, Dari, and Japanese

Name - Sandra O’Malley Place of birth - Castlebar, County Mayo, Ireland Organisation - Border Crossings and Blue Raincoat Theatre Company Where I work - Ireland Role - Actor Mother tongue - English Other languages - A little Irish, a little French

Name - Andrea Paolucci Place of Birth - Bologna, Italy Organization - Teatro dell’Argine Where I work - Bologna Roles - playwright, director, theatre teacher, co-art director TdA Mother tongue - Italian Other languages - French, English

Name - Xevi Ribas de la Hoz Born - Mataró, Barcelona, Spain Organisation - Théâtre du Soleil Where I work - Mainly in Paris. Roles - Actor, accessory maker, puppeteer, scenographer Mother tongue - Catalan Other languages - Spanish, French

Name - Saboor Sahak Born - Kaboul, Afghanistan Organisation - Théâtre du Soleil Where I work - Paris, Kaboul, Santiago Roles - actor, director, screenwriter and theatre technician Mother tongue - Pashto Other languages - French, English, Pashto, Urdu, Spanish and Persian

Name - Debbie Seymour Born - London, UK Organisation - The Fence Where I work - Florence, Italy Roles - Director, Trainer Mother tongue - English Other languages - Some French and Italian

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Name - Hanna Slättne Place of birth - Stockholm, Sweden Organisation - Border Crossings (& others) Where I work - Across Ireland & UK Roles - Dramaturg, Writer, Facilitator Mother tongue - Swedish Other languages - English

Name - Ida Strizzi Place of birth - Lanciano, Italy Organization - Teatro dell'Argine Where I work - Bologna Roles - actress, teacher Mother tongue - Italian Other languages - English, French, a little German, studying Japanese

For the Paris workshop, we were joined by Juliette Maheu. Name - Michael Walling Place of Birth - Coventry, UK Organisation - Border Crossings Where I work - Ireland, UK and internationally Role - Artistic Director Mother tongue - English Other languages - Some French, some Mauritian Creole, a little Italian

Name - Amanda Tedesco Born - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Organisation - Théâtre du Soleil Where I work - Paris, Rio de Janeiro Roles - Actress, direction assistant, producer, subtitle operator Mother tongue - Brazilian Portuguese Other languages - French, English, a bit of Spanish

For the Bologna workshop, we were joined by Angela Sciavilla and Pietro Floridia from Cantieri Meticci, and by Stella Piazzola from the University of Bologna.

For the Dublin workshop, we were joined for some or all of the week by local participants Bronwen Barrett (Ireland), Romi Beiroa (Uruguay), Neltah Chadamoyo (Zimbabwe), Ro Cruanas (Argentina), Pauline Dalton (Ireland), Vlad Gurdis (Ireland / Moldova), Thais Muniz (Brazil) and Tatiana Santos (Brazil). Special thanks to Tony Fegan, Jenny Macdonald and Jennifer Webster.

This e-book was launched on 3rd November 2022 with an online event chaired by Cristina da Milano (eccom.it).

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Once upon a time the world became quiet, silent. All that could be heard were the sounds of the birds and the bees. No aeroplanes ew in the skies, no tra c on the roads. Experiencing this for the rst time; Debbie sat alone and watched as the trees cast shadows on the walls of her room. The shimmering of leaves changing form with the aid of a little gentle breeze. Sublime serenity, such beauty. (Sandra O’Malley)

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