Workshops in Budapest

IMG_5891InSite is conducting the local activity of the Facing the Gap project in collaboration with Örkény Theatre in the heart of Budapest.

24 participating IMG_5920young people have been working through three weekends on stories about walls, including Humana Fragmenta, the play written by Chris Cooper for the project.

Some of the participants will participate in the youth exchange in July that will lead up to the final international conference of the Facing the Gap project.

Humana Fragmenta

20160319_164437Intense work is going on in the UK and in Malta on the plays commissioned by the project from Chris Cooper. Chris has written a play for each country reflecting the context and engaging in the subject of migration. The movement of people is understood on multiple levels in these exciting new plays, connecting the refugee crisis with social mobility and generally the complex question of freedom of choice.

Workshops in Malta have just finished on  18th of March, in the UK they have started and participants will be meeting right up till the international youth exchange in July, 2016. The workshops in Hungary will be held over weekends in April, and in June in China.

Preparations are ongoing for our international project conference to be held between 29th and 31st of July. Watch this space for further information!

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Benched in China

4L5A2224_24L5A2175_2Chris Cooper’s Benched has become a celebrated play for young people in three languages since its first premiere in Hungarian, followed by Mandarin Chinese and English. The play has also been played and workshopped in theatre in education programmes as well as in professional theatre in Budapest, Birmingham, Beijing, Singapore, Malta and most recently Shanghai, China. The play has also reached community centre, public spaces and conferences.jBwV-fxhqtsx3499959

From 6 September through the end of 2015, Shanghai Mingyuan Contemporary Art Museum  (McaM) begins to celebrate over 30 years of contemporary Chinese theatre with more than 88 precious documentary films from as early as end 70s post Cultural Revolution plays to the recent vibrant contemporary theatre movement in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Benched directed by Cao Xi, the Artistic Director of Drama Rainbow is selected due to its bold experiment of considering the political extreme in which young people are challenged by the social and cultural crisis in modern China. The IMG_6382_2play’s simplicity in the use of object opens the state of both our society and each individual in it. The play finds the Chinese situation rather than demonstrating what is simply in the text which originally is written for young people in Hungary. Chinese actor Kong Kong performed the play at McaM in August.

The Chinese version of the play was first performed by Cao Xi in Nanluoguxiang Theatre Festival in Beijing, 2014. After the opening of the play Penghao Theatre held an four country link up which aimed to connect the play to different situations of young people, society, democracy and theatre in the UK, Italy, Hungary and China.

 

Benched in Birmingham

11034273_1604354533131646_1173706996907637149_nChris Cooper’s play Benched is a point of connection for the project partners, as it has been produced in Hungary, China and the UK, and also performed in Malta by partners in the Facing the Gap project. You can read here a report on the UK project based on Benched: 

From January to July 2015 The GAP Arts Project ran their first community drama project as part of The BENCHED Project. Benched, a monodrama written by Chris Cooper, tells the story of a young man who, whilst occupying a park bench, deconstructs and confronts the pressures of society, whilst looking after his sister’s baby who lays sleeping in a pram. The drama opens up questions of how present cultural, social and economic crises affect the everyday life of people, and how it can particularly affect those marginalised in society.

It was the first time GAP explicitly used concepts of site and object in their artistic work, for example, working with the audience before the play begins to create the site of the play. GAP would ask the audience about the state of the bench, how well it has been kept, what type of activities happen on the bench, who are the people who use it and more. This allowed the audiences to actively use their imagination to project their understandings, in this instance their understanding of public space, onto the drama and allow it to be acted upon.

Rehearsal-of-BENCHED-with-The-GAP-Arts-Project-2After touring the piece across several community venues and groups across Birmingham the project culminated at the end of July with a large discussion titled Drama, Justice and Democracy. The discussion was developed by the questions raised throughout the performances with speakers from a range of backgrounds booked, including playwrights, a barrister, councillors and more. Whilst a fruitful conversation ensued, it proved difficult to tangibly move towards a praxis that aims to re evaluate how drama is currently being used in mainstream theatre, however, this did not stop the appetite for continuing this process.

The BENCHED Project was directed by Arron Gill, and produced by Maria Angela Wells.

Bond on Gap

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Edward Bond at the ‘Stop Acting’ event in Budapest, 2009, organised by Kerekasztal Színházi Nevelési Központ – www.kerekasztalszinhaz.hu

Edward Bond’s theory on drama has influenced the project partners greatly. Here is a short part from an interview recently recorded with Bond by Cao Xi, the creative director of Drama Rainbow.

Bond explains his concept of ‘gap':

…what I think about the gap is – there are two uses in a way. If I say reality exists because it’s in my mind, but obviously it’s really out there anyway. So there must be a gap between reality and that. And in that gap is me. I find myself in that gap. What I want to do in a drama is as it were to open that gap so you find yourself in it… YOU have to enter the gap. It has to be you.’

‘Culture is always saying there is no gap, because we have all the answers. You just have to trust authority because the pope can talk to God. Culture is saying there is no gap but it does this by taking over the gap. It is saying oh that’s the mystical and that’s the sublime. And you can go in the gap and meet God. But drama says I am sorry God I haven’t even got time for you there is this person’s need or suffering, bewildered or in danger. And that’s where I am going.’

GAP in the Market

Birmingham project partners The GAP Arts Project organised a fantastic festival reflecting the need for creatives spaces for young people and communities by turning a market into a festival venue. Read the details below:

Between 4 – 19 July The GAP Arts Project held a pop up festival, ‘GAP in the Market’, in the Birmingham Bull Ring Indoor Markets.

gapinthemarket01The festival was based around three core concepts of creativity, arts and play, using them as serious tools to learn about the city, its communities and ourselves. The programme reflected this ethos by using various forms of creativity, arts and play, from a series of script-readings of Edward Bond’s ‘The Sea’, to tinkering workshops, art hacks reminiscent of the Situationist practice of détournement, film screenings, exhibitions, discussions, debates with City Councillors, re-imagining the city with clay and more.

The range of activities allowed the festival to appeal to a wider range of interests, and also allowed for us to collaborate with other individuals and organisations. For example, Craftspace, a leading contemporary craft organisation, delivered two workshops which explored ideas and practices of craftivism (craft + activism). By the second session we had become more familiar with the concepts and worked with members of the LGBT community to discuss issues relating to sexuality and gender and employing our conversation in sowing messages, statistics or our feelings onto underwear which we then hung in the space.

gapinthemarket02One of the central factors of the project was its location. Birmingham is Europe’s youngest city in relation to the population. Surprisingly it does not have any dedicated creative youth space. It was our concern to create a dedicated space for young people’s creativity, to allow for greater participation between the city and young people who are not in employment, training or education. The market seemed an appropriate place to do this as the Bull Ring Indoor Markets reflects the diversity of the city with its West Indies stores, Chinese grocers, jewellers, halal butchers and more. It also allowed us to frame a conversation with the city, ‘Look at what young people can do in this tightly packed space – imagine if there was a permanent creative youth space’.

Historically the markets are of great importance to the city as Birmingham grew from the markets to become known as the city of a thousand trades. Now more than ever in this era of hyper-commericailsation the markets are at serious risk faced with direct competition from the Bull Ring Shopping centre which when built became the largest shopping mall in Europe.

gapinthemarketIt was important to us to allow the project to raise issues of how people engage with their city, the stories of the market traders (some who had their stall for over a century, some for a few days) all of which was aimed at allowing young people to become active agents in their society. Part of this focused on an exhibition curated by two GAP members, who interviewed and took portraits of the stall holders, asking them questions of the relationship between markets and community, between play and learning. Another example is the Life in Tunes series, a take on the famous Desert Island Discs radio show, in which three young people interviewed three established artists based in Birmingham, asking about the significant moments which shaped their practice and personalities captured in a piece of music. The series was broadcast on a Birmingham Arts radio station.

Overall the GAP in the Market festival was important in creating a dialogue with young people of Birmingham, allowing them to use a space in the city centre to creatively explore themselves. It was important in telling the city that there is a desperate need to create a dedicated creative youth space.

With many asking how and if this project will continue or return we have decided to apply to the city council to use the GAP in the Market as a model to create a bigger space, for longer, during the summer of 2016.

Facing the GAP in the Market

Pgapinthemarketroject partners The GAP ARTS Project are running a wonderful two weeks festival in the Birmingham Indoors Market.

The GAP in the Market festival is all about creating greater access to arts, play and creativity, primarily, but not exclusively, directed at 16 – 25 year olds in Europe’s youngest city, Birmingham. GAP in the Market offers everyone – young people, artists, participants and public audiences – an eclectic mix of creative opportunities to make, share, learn, listen, play and engage together.

One of the highlights of the program is the public discussion on drama and democracy on the 19th of July:

Drama, Democracy and Justice: Bringing together a critical discussion on how drama is, can be and could be used to animate the relationship between young people, democracy and justice.

Speakers include: Senior Lecturer at BCU Chris Bolton, Young Peoples Champion Councillor Kerry Jenkins, Barrister Iqbal Mohammed and others. Artists, educators, social justice workers and members of the public are all welcome.

You can a find all the details on the festival’s website.

‘Fresh water’ in Budapest

IMG_1099The four day Facing the Gap training in Budapest was completed successfully. 41 people participated on the first day which was about the situation of drama and theatre education in China and the work of Drama Rainbow. Cao Xi, the creative director of Drama Rainbow initiated the audience into the context through placing a real life event at the centre of his talk, and deconstructing the three major challenges faced by practitioners there. Participants could also experience a process drama that is typical of the work of the centre in Beijing.

IMG_098134 people participated in the next three days, that was built around a story in which a wall is built by a village a long-long time ago. The story offered the possibility to work in an experiential  drama mode, then move to a more performance oriented process and finally arrive to designing dramatic tasks for a theatre in education programme. The training was designed and facilitated together by Cao Xi (Drama Rainbow) and Adam Bethlenfalvy (InSite).

You can find many photos of the training in the gallery.

Here are some quotes from the feedback given by participants:

“I would like to thank you for the superb experience of the workshop. For mIMG_1072e it felt like fresh water to spend three days with creative thinking in theatrical context. I learnt a lot, one of the key things for me was to think about forming a situation or shaping my stage presence with such an intention to create open questions in the viewers’ mind. This was an important way of thinking to realise for me.
Then moreover during the process of the workshop days I felt like gaining inspiration to start forming a drama class for a group of my students. And I felt re-strengthened about trying to move into this direction (to work with drama) more. And I really enjoyed the company too and the ability to explore in creative ways.”

“The concept of there not being a answer that is right or wrong. It’s a way of giving responsibility to the young people and letting them use their imagination to create a fictional scene.” 

“I had a fantastic time and gained some creative ways on how to engage young people to create gaps that can lead to asking questions that effect their lives.”

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