Thursday, May 12, 2011

More from Gabarone

Another fantastic day in the workshop. The morning was spent on Lecoq's Seven Levels of Tension, which is always a great way to energise inexperienced actors and move them towards spontaneous and original work. That led on to an exercise called "walking into the wrong room", which is self-explanatory and very funny.

In the afternoon, we made use of pieces of clothing that I'd asked the actors to bring in - each had an item with a particular emotional meaning for them. The exercise was deceptively simple - they just had to find a way of presenting that piece of clothing to the whole group. It was truly extraordinary. One young man beat the drum while wearing feathers on his head and a leopard-patterned vest. Another put on shorts, took off his shirt and became a Praise Singer. A mixed-race woman acted her journeys between Africa and Europe, and her decision to buy a traditional German dress so as to embrace that part of her identity. It was all intensely moving, deeply honest, almost shocking in the complexity of its identity politics.

Long talk with David about theatre for development. He's been involved in the form since the 70s, and knows everybody. He's also full of amazing stories about work with Zapu PF during the guerilla war, workshops in Bangladesh which landlords tried to sabotage, theatre workers being imprisoned in or deported from Malawi. We discuss the fact that theatre for development seems to have lost its radical edge these days, has become a little "worthy", and very westernised. In part, he blames the shifting agendas of funders, and in part the more rigorous accounting procedures they are following. In the old days, you used to be able to sneak in revolution under the counter.

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