Saturday, June 12, 2010


I've been reading Maria Delgado and Dan Rebellato's new book on European Directors. It's exciting to see a different angle on the role of the director - who is accepted in Europe as being a creative artist and not, as in Britain and America, as simply the interpreter of "the author's intentions". How are you supposed to know the author's intentions anyway? Who was the last person who spoke to Shakespeare? Even if we could ring him up, he might not know. People lie about their intentions - even to themselves. So, if you ask me, it's better to regard them as something we can't know, and get on with the business of being creative on a European model.

The idea of Europe and the idea of directing both encompass debates over democracy. I was in Brussels on Tuesday, for the annual meeting of the Platform for an Intercultural Europe. It was a fascinating event, as much as anything to see the European Commission paying for itself to be criticised, and strongly recognising the importance of the cultural sector in broader policy-making. But it was also very odd to see so few people present from the minority and migrant communities under discussion. An intercultural Europe is not a solely white, educated, Anglophone Europe. I volunteer to look into hosting a Practice Exchange session, where we can explore the ways in which cultural work can open up real dialogues, and to have the dialogues largely initiated by BME practitioners.

It's the same debate that runs through Maria and Dan's book. Declan Donnellan talks about the need for somebody to be in charge, and Romeo Castellucci, more intriguingly, says that his response to our individualist world is to stress the solitariness of the artist. This is in contrast to figures like Mnouchkine, who continue to believe in collective creation, and democratic collaboration within a theatre company, and between companies and communities. The book, perhaps not consciously, seems to regard Mnouchkine as rather old-fashioned in this respect: a hangover from 1968. The modern director, Castellucci's solitary artist, puts across a personal vision to which other individuals respond.

My own work, as a director of intercultural theatre, has to be closer in approach to Mnouchkine - so it's a bit disturbing to feel that Europe, which presents a more liberating model of theatre practice than Britain, may think I'm a bit past my sell-by date. But then, Europe is only to be trusted, and can only succeed, in so far as it becomes democratic itself. The Platform is a step towards democracy - but the Commission itself remains very undemocratic - operating like a "vision-imposing" solitary director. While this remains, it will never be intercultural and dialogic - and theatre which is imposed from above cannot espouse these values either.

1 comment:

rlkris said...