I have arrived home and am delighted, and humbled, to see firework displays laid on, in, what I can only assume, honour of my return.  From my previous posts you will by now dear reader realise what a truly extraordinary time I had.  One of the marvellous aspects of the Artist International Development Fund is it not being tied to a project: it is, as the title states, to develop the artist.  I went to Cape Town with 3 objectives: to have conversations about trauma and the capacity of language to express trauma, to perform Still Life, to build relationships with theatre practitioners, be that artists or organisations.  I achieved all three and then some.  I have returned knowing that a way around the other side of the globe I am part of a creative community.  I have found another 'home' for my work and my artistic practice and this is very very thrilling.  I am particularly elated by the reciprocity of my time there.  I went with the express intention of not behaving as a coloniser.  I tried to achieve this both practically and attitudinally; I gave performances of Still Life and donated the box office income to the host theatre, I ran workshops without charge and budgeted travel and subsistence for those participants who would not otherwise have been able to participate.  South Africa is a poor rich hungry country and is need of nourishment and yet has so much to offer.  One of the constant themes that emerged was how theatre-makers there are looking for examples of non linear, non narrative based work.  While I was there, Forced Entertainment live streamed Speak Bitterness and there was palpable excitement at what was being witnessed.

I also gave up on any idea of how I should be or how I expected to be.  I gave up on my UK self and gave in to the hospitality and energy of the people I met.  I followed and, by that, was led into and towards both planned and spontaneous conversations and interactions.  I was excited to be able to converse in South African sign language and have a young Deaf performer in my workshop.  It was beneficial to both of us that I was able to communicate directly (although there was also an interpreter present).

I shared some of the ideas for Can I Start Again Please that had evolved and was, as I always am, amazed by what had actually been churning and chunking in my sub conscious - how much I had absorbed and been influenced by my surroundings.  I came home to discover that Arts Council England had approved my application for funding to take the work to full production.  I move now, via The Sid Lester Christmas Special and Still Life in the Summer Nights Festival in Perth Australia towards a premiere in March as part of the Sick Festival 2015.

I kept thinking of a wonderful poem by June Jordan called Moving Towards Home while in Cape Town and so I present it here.  It feels appropriate.

Moving Towards Home
by June Jordan

"Where is Abu Fadi," she wailed.
"Who will bring me my loved one?"
New York Times, 9/20/82
(after the 1982 Phalangist/Israeli Massacre of Palestinian Refugees in Sabra and Shatila)

I do not wish to speak about the bulldozer and the
red dirt
not quite covering all of the arms and legs
Nor do I wish to speak about the nightlong screams
that reached
the observation posts where soldiers lounged about
Nor do I wish to speak about the woman who shoved her baby
into the stranger's hands before she was led away
Nor do I wish to speak about the father whose sons
were shot
through the head while they slit his own throat before
the eyes
of his wife
Nor do I wish to speak about the army that lit continuous
flares into the darkness so that others could see
the backs of their victims lined against the wall
Nor do I wish to speak about the piled up bodies and
the stench
that will not float
Nor do I wish to speak about the nurse again and
again raped
before they murdered her on the hospital floor
Nor do I wish to speak about the rattling bullets that
did not
halt on that keening trajectory
Nor do I wish to speak about the pounding on the
doors and
the breaking of windows and the hauling of families into
the world of the dead
I do not wish to speak about the bulldozer and the
red dirt
not quite covering all of the arms and legs
because I do not wish to speak about unspeakable events
that must follow from those who dare
"to purify" a people
those who dare
"to exterminate" a people
those who dare
to describe human beings as "beasts with two legs"
those who dare
"to mop up"
"to tighten the noose"
"to step up the military pressure"
"to ring around" civilian streets with tanks
those who dare
to close the universities
to abolish the press
to kill the elected representatives
of the people who refuse to be purified
those are the ones from whom we must redeem
the words of our beginning
because I need to speak about home
I need to speak about living room
where the land is not bullied and beaten into
a tombstone
I need to speak about living room
where the talk will take place in my language
I need to speak about living room
where my children will grow without horror
I need to speak about living room where the men
of my family between the ages of six and sixty-five
are not
marched into a roundup that leads to the grave
I need to talk about living room
where I can sit without grief without wailing aloud
for my loved ones
where I must not ask where is Abu Fadi
because he will be there beside me
I need to talk about living room
because I need to talk about home

I was born a Black woman
and now
I am become a Palestinian
against the relentless laughter of evil
there is less and less living room
and where are my loved ones?

It is time to make our way home.

Posted
AuthorSue MacLaine
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