Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Platform and the Panel

An incredibly busy week.  While Britain got its extended Bank Holiday, I suffered the interculturalist's perennial problem that our international partners don't observe the same days off, and headed over to Brussels for the Platform's annual forum.  Actually, I was very pleased indeed to be there, as it was a particularly rich event this year.  I'm the official rapporteur for the Platform, so I'll be writing the whole thing up in detail, and linking to the online version - but just to whet the appetite a bit, here are a couple of highlights:

Jouetta van der Ploeg from City Museum Zoetermeer spoke about some extraordinary projects she is undertaking to link the museum to diverse local communities in this Netherlands new town.  Being a new town, the history is contained less in the preservation of objects, and more in the collection of migration stories.  A real way to give a sense of belonging.

Dusica Parezanovic from Cultural Center REX in Serbia spoke about some of her intercultural mapping projects, including an amazing one starting from the work of artist Zoran Todorovič, whose piece Cigani i psi involved attaching minuscule video cameras to the necks of a stray dog and a Roma child.  Watching from the gallery, you could only see how they were being treated - and it was impossible to tell which was which.

Eli Borchgrevink from TrAP in Norway talked about her project Viewing Palestine 2011, which gathered  thirty Palestinian artists and thinkers from a broad range of disciplines in Oslo - allowing people who are not able to meet in their own homeland to gather and exchange practice and ideas.

I whizzed back from this packed couple of days to take part in a panel at Rose Bruford on Wednesday night.  This was the start of a new research project about the role of the director in 21st century theatre, with a keynote by Richard Eyre, and a panel including James Dacre, Sarah Esdaile, Ian Rickson, Kristine Landon-Smith, Stephen Unwin, Simon Usher, and Natalie Wilson (quite a line-up).  Given that the event was called Re-naming the director, I has expected it might be concerned with new developments in the art of directing, and new ideas about the director's role both as artist and activist.  Strangely, only Kristine and I seemed to think in those terms, and I suspect that's to do with the fact that we both created our companies, and we both work with cultural diversity.  Dialogues with difference force you to think outside the box.  For most people, directing is still a craft - an interpretative role, serving a writer who is the "real" artist.  I refute that model - a director is an artist, as is an actor or a designer.  We have our own creativity and our own responsibility in terms of the work we send into the public space.  So - Kristine and I are planning a lunch.....

Enough time to welcome our new intern from Hong Kong Baptist University, Jennie Wah, and to go to the launch of Jay Griffiths' new book, A Love Letter from a Stray Moon at Sarah Dunant's house.  Jay is a very dear friend from way back, and it's always a joy to connect with her, and with other kindred spirits like Sarah.  The new book is a publishing experiment for Penguin, available only in e-book form.  And you can get it for a mere £1.99 here.

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