From Derry/Londonderry/Legenderry/The Walled City – a place so complex it’s names are regularly explained as they are invoked. ICAN ended on a familial note. The aptly named Barbara Love facilitated an open and honest conversation that allowed space for anxiety over money, politics, identity etc. come forward into a safe space.
A joke from a speaker: [Pick two nationalities and then add Irish.] A foundation was offering a huge sum for the writing of a scholarly article, with the stipulation that it be about elephants. Scholar from country X proposed: how to cook an elephant; the next scholar proposed How to Make Love to and Elephant. The Irish scholar: The Elephant and Partition.
Broadly – if all you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail. Theater practitioners can see every problem as a theatrical problem? If every problem is a theatrical problem (apt subject, apt arena) – are our tools multiple enough? If we believe that art can promote social change – are we aware enough of the subtleties of the society in which we are locating our work, and are we attuned to the full ramifications of change?
James Thompson made a very impactful presentation some of you may have caught at the Theatre Without Borders conference at La MaMa last fall… He went into a refugee center in Sri Lanka with a theater project – that he believes may have led to a kind of noise and notoriety that precipitated a massacre. In agitating for free expression and declaimed identities – and then leaving – are we lighting fuses when we think we are lighting candles?