So this week we’ve launched INTERFACE. It’s a new project, powered by 20 live performance artists – actors, writers, musicians, dancers, directors, devisers. They’ll be collaborating with us over the next 4 months to create 10 brand new performance pieces – responses to texts by Goethe and Mandela.
Each pair consists of an artist based permanently in South West England, and an artist of African or Caribbean heritage. Nobody’s met each other before. Working in pairs and as a group, they’ll develop their pieces at Shonibare’s Studio, London (as part of our GLOBAL COMMUNITY residency) and then perform at The Brewhouse, Tangle’s base in Somerset, on 12 December.
The idea has been inspired by some of the interviews for our EVERYTHING MATTERS research project (published next month). Many of the organisations involved asked, how, in the relatively remote South West, could artists access more opportunities to collaborate cross-culturally? They asked, how could we find better mechanisms to connect up, freely and creatively, without fear of saying or doing the wrong thing?
We started thinking about this…and, to quote Pat Cumper, ‘creating theatre that explores the complicated and dynamic relationship between Europe and Africa and the creativity that is released when cultures meet’. About what happens if two professionals are forcibly put together and made to create something new. About what genius a Zimbabwean poet and a Cornish dancer might come up with, if they were given the chance to collaborate…
So INTERFACE took shape. It is about making an environment that enables artists to stretch their boundaries, share aspirations and ask questions of each other. It aims to build powerful new collaborations in a region where the chance to take part in this kind of project is practically non-existent (the South West is, on average, 96% ‘white’).
Through INTERFACE we’ll be making some great art, but we’re also interested in exploring the tensions and common meeting-points between the artists involved. We’ll be looking at how ‘cultural difference’ can improve our creative thinking and how the final product is enhanced by two people working together in landscapes foreign and new.
This week we’ve been inundated with requests from artists from Cornwall through to Wilshire – there’s a real thirst to take part. It’s got the project off to a brilliant start. One told us ‘…no project yet has allowed me to explore how different, and how challenging theatre making can be if the creative team is not from the same culture…’
Another told us, ‘For me INTERFACE appears like the springboard to a much bigger ideal where individuals and groups from any background work effortlessly together; accepting and benefitting from their differences and working respectfully together to create bold, brave and uniquely challenging theatre.’
We’re hoping those participating will find this to be the case. There will be ups and downs (we’ll keep you posted) but so far it looks like INTERFACE will enable a group of artists spanning two continents to become friends. They’re already getting talking – to each other, to us, and to the organisations that are supporting the work.
We also hope that it will have a long term effect, making the future for cross-cultural work in the UK’s most diverse and largest region – an exciting, sea-surrounded, moor-filled, rocky, rural place – look brighter, growing cultural knowledge on both sides, whilst ten fantastic new performance works emerge.
There are loads of ways to check the progress of the project and to get involved –watch our twitter feed, follow our newsfeed on this website, or just get in touch if you want more info or would like to see the work for yourself in December.
We know it well that none of us acting alone can achieve success.
We must therefore act together as a united people, for national reconciliation, for nation building, for the birth of a new world.
Let there be justice for all.
Let there be peace for all.
Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all.
Let freedom reign.