Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Botswana workshop

Typing this in a very slow internet cafe in Gabarone, so there won't be a full report on the last two days! I've been in a workshop, hosted jointly by University of Botswana and Botswana Society for the Arts. I'm working with a group of young performers, most of whom have very limited experience (there is no professional theatre in the country), but all of whom have energy and enthusiasm in buckets. As often in Africa, the plus side of the process is music and dance. Rhythm games which would take ages anywhere else in the world simply materialise here. You don't have to ask for songs or dances - the moment they are on stage, that is what they do.

On the other hand, there's not much awareness of theatre language, and so anything spoken requires a lot of work. It's interesting to see how colloquial and poetic registers don't seem different to them. This may be a language issue - but I'm deliberately working as much as possible with African texts. They are certainly open to direction, and don't have any inhibitions whatsoever. We saw some sexually explicit material within minutes of starting, and with no prompting in that direction.

I don't know if we'll have any great art to show at the end of the week, but I do know that both they and I will have learnt a huge amount.

More to follow when the typing is easier!

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