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Sites of Micro-Political Theatre by Dorinda Hulton

Sites of Micro-Political Theatre by Dorinda Hulton

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Sites of Micro-Political Theatre
Dorinda Hulton
PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art, PAJ 90 (Volume 30, Number3), September 2008, pp. 94-103 (Article)
Published by The MIT Press
For additional information about this article
Access Provided by your local institution at 08/11/10 1:42PM GMT
 
94
PAJ 90 (2008), pp. 94–103. © 2008 Dorinda Hulton
SITES OFMICRO-POLITICAL THEATRE
Dorinda Hulton
I
n June 2006, at the “New Plays or Europe Festival” in Wiesbaden, a perormanceentitled
One Square Foot: the still small voice o the people 
represented the smallisland o Cyprus
.
In the program, Giorgos Neophytou o the Teatre Organi-zation o Cyprus, oered a summary o the political and historical background o the island, writing o the “many deep wounds amongst the Greek and the urkishCypriots that have been caused by the war that don’t seem to heal.” He reers hereto the war that began on July 20, 1974, when urkish troops invaded the islandand occupied 37% o the north. As a result, about 150,000 urkish Cypriots, underpressure rom Ankara, relocated to the north, and since then Cyprus has been ethni-cally divided. A line now separates the country and its people. Tis historical andpolitical context is made yet more complex by the number o dead and disappearedon both sides, many o whom are still publicly remembered through their adedphotographs on trees in city squares and in posters that line the road to the border.In addition, the number o settlers rom the urkish mainland now occupy housesand land belonging to Greek Cypriots, and many properties on the predominantly urkish Cypriot side o the divide have been sold to people rom outside Cyprus.Te
One Square Foot 
project [see Deirdre Heddon’s article in
PAJ 86 
] places theperormer, rather than the playwright, at the heart o generating material or per-ormance. Te project was a collaboration between Echo-Arts Living Arts Center,Cyprus, and Teatre Alibi, UK.
1
Arianna Economou o Echo-Arts, Cyprus, and Ihave acted as co-directors or the entire project, which has been conducted in threephases, each culminating in perormances o new work collaboratively authored by a number o creative artists using interdisciplinary methods. In Phase One, whichtook place in May 2003, site-specic perormances were presented near the military border in Nicosia, Cyprus, and in the roodos mountains. Studio perormancestook place in the Open Studio Season, Nicosia, and also at the Chorotheatro Studioin Nicosia. Phase wo in July 2003 staged perormances both on site and at theDrama Department o Exeter University in the UK.
2
In Phase Tree, which took place in September 2005, site-specic perormances were presented on both sideso the military border in Nicosia as well as in several indoor spaces, south o themilitary border at the Ayios Andreas Market Teatre, and north o the border atthe Arabahmet Cultural Centre.
 
HULON /
Sites o Micro-Political Teatre 
 
95
Troughout the project, we worked together as a group o artists—Arianna Econo-mou (choreographer and dancer), Peter Hulton (video artist and documenter), IlkerKaptanoglu (musician and composer), Larkos Larkou (sound designer and composer),Serhat Selisik (sculptor and installation artist), Horst Weierstall (installation artist anddocumenter), and I (director and dramaturg)—to nd a way o responding to the“many deep wounds” Neophytou addresses. In a situation dominated by the macropolitics o the UN, the E.U., Greece, urkey, the UK and the U.S., we attemptedto do this by creating an artistic orum and structure in which the individual voiceso ordinary people might be heard: that is, a structure that might include theirstories, their experiences, their memories, belies and hopes, rather than those o public institutions.Tis piece, then, created in the divided city o Nicosia, the last divided city inEurope, aimed towards multi-authorship and micro political action, giving spaceto tiny, private moments, bringing them into the public arena and allowing themto be heard, hence the title:
the still small voice o the people 
. Video interviews wereconducted with elderly people rom both sides o the military border, and their storiesand memories o living in a mixed community beore the division were interwoveninto the piece. Stories were told about those who had died in both the Greek andurkish Cypriot communities; signicantly, the two main perormers were rom theGreek and the urkish Cypriot communities, respectively. Teir autobiographicalstories ormed one o the main threads in the piece, as did their individual peror-mance practices: dance and music.My article is both a refection and analysis o that process
 
o creating a multi-authoredpiece, examining ve compositional strategies—(1) Interplay; (2) Site as source andresource or generating perormance material; (3) Metaphor; (4) Momentum andrhythm; (5) Repetition—and their development and response to the political andhistorical context o the particular situation in which we were working. I hope,however, that these will open up as well to problems and questions inherent insimilar, less-situated, work.
INTERPLAY 
Interplay is dened by the
Oxord English Dictionary 
as: “reciprocal or ree interac-tion; the operation or
infuence 
o two or more things on each other.” A sense o 
 
mutual infuence—between people, between dierent kinds o imagery, and betweendierent perormance languages—was a determining actor within the making o 
the still small voice o the people.
Te piece was as much a “play” as it was a “perormancecomposition”; these terms run along a continuum, rather than separating themselveson either side o an aesthetic divide.
SITE AS SOURCE AND RESOURCE FOR GENERATING PERFORMANCE MATERIAL 
For collaboratively authored work, the rst question is oten one o common groundbetween the artists involved. In making
the still small voice o the people 
, we chose

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