Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Laboratory

Farid Paya phones from Paris to confirm details of his trip to lead a workshop with our new Laboratory. (See I met Farid in December, when I went over to see the Théâtre du Soleil in their wonderful production about refugees, Le Dernier Caravansérail, and to talk to Ariane Mnouchkine about it. Josip suggested there might be points of common interest between the Théâtre du Lierre and Border Crossings: both companies are interested in a theatre which operates across cultures and disciplines, which addresses today's world, but which avoids a slavish naturalism (with all the political conservatism that form has come to contain). As so often, Josip is a real litmus paper of a man: it turns out that there's even a common interest in the theatre of the Indian Ocean - Lierre presented Théâtre Talipot from La Réunion in Kalla, Le Feu last November, on the initiative of Aloual, their Malagasay actor. Talipot is a company which melds African, Asian and European forms: a real lesson to us all.

In April, I made another trip to Paris to see Farid's production of L'épopée de Guilgamesh: an amazing treatment of the myth through physical and vocal theatre. Look on the Laboratory website, and you'll see a photo - actors like whirling dervishes. Now he's coming here to teach us something about these voice techniques, which he draws mainly from Middle Eastern traditions: I feel really honoured.

For some time I've been feeling that Border Crossings needs a Laboratory space, outside the processes of developing particular projects, so that we can research what intercultural theatre might really mean, train ourselves in a whole range of techniques, and explore the possibilities which collaborations like this one offer for future productions. Even though we aren't staging a full production this year, I feel that the setting up of this Laboratory more than compensates, and gives a real lift to our tenth anniversary as a company. It's a chance for actors to train with some exciting practitioners, and for me to see the results.

We sort out Farid's Eurostar tickets, and publicise the workshops.

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