|When Nobody Returns - Iman Aoun and David Broughton-Davies|
When we first presented This Flesh is Mine, back in 2014, we used all three spaces in ASHTAR Theatre's lovely Ramallah space, and a fabulous London venue called Testbed 1. We always knew that Testbed would be a one-off: the bulldozers moved in back in January, and it's doubtless well on the way to becoming a set of desirable dwellings. So we've been resourceful again - and found a space under the Westway, just along from the bar where Elliot Tupac painted his extraordinary mural during Origins 2015.
The bay under the motorway is large. You can see the concrete slabs that are the foundation of the road above your head. Our set, which uses two raked stages facing one another, looks as if the road has fallen in and smashed in the space. Cladding is ripped and incomplete. Everywhere there is a sense of wreckage and of provisionality. The perfect space, in other words, for a pair of productions about war and occupation. Palestine too is a space with far too much wreckage, and a space where everything is provisional and nothing stable or secure.
The great bonus of a found space like this is that it allows us to play to the epic qualities of Brian Woolland's Plays of Love and War at the same time as being very intimate with the audience. There are some scenes that take place at height and distance - there are others which happen within touching distance of an audience that is never more than four rows deep. This is fantastic for the thematic concerns of the plays, which move constantly between the personal and the political, as they explore the impact of war and violence on the lives of fragile individuals caught up in the power of global forces.
|When Nobody Returns - Bayan Shbib and Andrew French|
The space is full of challenges of course - but challenges are often what lead to brilliant creativity and to exciting solutions. The audience and the reviewers have certainly loved this space. In fact - I find it very hard to imagine how the plays could be done in a conventional theatre....
More info and booking links here!