You are on page 1of 2

on power on safety on equality

on legacy
What do we leave behind? How will we be remembered?

An ambition to change how people look at the world around them is not
beyond our grasp. When we take it on, each image that we make is
freighted with responsibility: the people, materials, actions and words with
which that is populated are a world we’ve chosen to share. A world
“I never feel safe. Never. I mean, unfettered from the inequalities outside, subject only to the rules we
perhaps inside Brian’s house, but make.
otherwise, no. Nowhere.” What rules do we want to make?
—Season Butler
In my office, there is a model steamroller. My grandad bought it as a gift
I was five days old and living in Scotland when 10 Protestants were shot at for my young self. I was a baby, without sense of self or dexterity to play.
Kingsmill, in Northern Ireland.
At school, it’s clear who has power. Not the hierarchies of classrooms, or That steamroller still works, powered by methylated spirit. It comes from a
departments, or layers of assistant and deputy headteachers (masters and I was four years old and had started school when around 1,000 prisoners time when toys could be dangerous: the box has no age guidance to
mistresses being consigned to history books). Not the hierarchy of at Tadmor, in Palmyra, Syria, were killed in retribution for an attempt on the suggest a point at which a child (a boy!) might sensibly be brought into
teachers and assistants, of dinner ladies (ah, gender!) and cooks, of janitors life of President Hafez el-Assad. mastery of hot pressurised steam. It was a toy much admired by the
and groundsmen (again!). engineer who gave it to me. Hard steel, careful manufacture, a functional
I was nine years old and living in America when 21 people were shot by a model.
The power between children is dynamic. Who has what others want: a toy, gunman at San Ysidro McDonalds in San Diego before a SWAT team killed
a hairstyle, shoes: things money can buy. Who masters the popular culture him. Later that year, thousands of Sikhs were killed in India following the I look at it and wonder: for what kind of person was it intended? In what
references in a clever way, and controls the conversations. Who has the assassination of Indira Ghandi. kind of world?
confidence to attract attention. Tumbling hierarchies among those Born and bred.
simultaneously subject to the rules of family and school even as they are I was 13 years old and soon to start my sixth school, in England, when an How far from that am I here now?
the focus of those institutions. unknown number of people (believed by some to be over 10,000) were We live with the past.
killed around Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China.
And as time passes, the dynamism is lost. By the end of school, by the You can’t forget, must not forget, anything so painful, so troubling.
time people choose a job or college or university, we can tell almost I had finished school and was working to save for university when 8,372 Anything which has forever changed you, me, all of us.
immediately, because what these amount to is: who feels they belong, Bosniaks, mainly men and boys, were killed around Srebernica.
and is enabled to belong by everyone else. We have been slaves and slaveholders and slavers. We have invaded and
I was at a film festival in Milan when 19 people hijacked planes and killed colonised. We have been invaded. We have been assimilated. We pass.
Investment authorises power and voice. Being given the fashionable
shoes, being given the photoshoot, being given the job. Investment starts
2,996 including themselves in the northeastern USA.
None of this is an inheritance of pride or privilege.
early: in salary, in training, in being valued. I was between jobs and visiting my mother for her birthday when 56 DESTINATION
people, including four bombers, were killed on London’s transport We were not living then.
And in theatres, too. Do the artists get paid, across the year, as much as systems. LANGUAGE
the programmers? The marketeers? The cleaners? The funding It is now that we can act. We can choose what we lay claim to in our pasts.
“Knit the pattern of your own
I was performing at the Edinburgh Festival when several thousand Yazidi
men were killed by ISIS in Sinjar, Iraq.
We can choose what we lay claim to now. We can choose what we reject.
We cannot ignore that past in troubled silence.
Who authorises the voices on the stage?
ideal working context.” I wrote this on a day when a man in Hull was beaten nearly to death for We have agency. We have mobility. We have attention. We mobilise these
Is the stage a space of privilege or exploitation? —Tanya Steinhäuser speaking Polish. with a sense of responsibility.
on this on entanglement on leadership on exile
In February and March 2018, we had ten days of conversations. Each day
was the two of us with an artist. We talked. We listened. We shared a meal.
We laughed, we cried, There were many comfortable moments, plenty of
interesting challenges, some uncomfortable reflections. We wouldn’t do this if we were other people.
There is comfort to be found in a name. In knowing what we are.
We had imagined these conversations as many things, alive to the If we were both the same, it wouldn’t work.
possibilities of what each day might become. No two were the same, and Most of us, of course, do not choose our name: our parents choose it. They
we make no attempt to summarise them here. Nor is this document an In what we do together, each of us is inextricable. choose something they think fit. It sticks.
answer to questions, nor even an attempt to strengthen the frame within
which we ourselves work. A moment on stage is this framed in relation to that. We choose which is They don’t know what will happen. Where we will find ourselves. How, in
closer or further off. We choose to show or name or suggest a gender, the mouths of strangers, that name will sound.
It is a response to the sum of those ten conversations. If others are class, skin tone, nationality. We choose what kind of body you see. How
travelling paths alongside (ahead of, behind, parallel to, intersecting with) much of it. Whether it labours or pleasures or drools. If and how it uses They cannot tell what other names will gather around us. What words
us, this is not a map with points of navigation but a journal which might be language. Where to place resistance and consent. people will use about us when we are not there, what words they will use
of some use. to our faces. They cannot prepare us.
We choose to transition, transfer, transect, transport, transform, translate, “If listening, as I am proposing it, is a
Each conversation began with the words below. transplant, transcend, transfix, transact. gathering of bodies and of attention,
Alister Lownie
Katherina Radeva It helps to know your choices. To know what you have not chosen.
then it seems at best inadequate and at
worst dangerous for that gathering to
We wanted to have these conversations because we’ve been thinking
about belonging and othering, and the relationship between our selves
happen without an acknowledgement
and our work. So we took the time to find the resources to enable this time of the histories and geographies that
together, with you and nine other artists. We hope it will be a wide-ranging have shaped those bodies and their
conversation between three artists coming from different places and words by Alister Lownie
capacity for attentiveness.”
experiences meeting in this room, today, now.
“I come from a country drawings by Katherina Radeva
—Rajni Shah in conversation with
Nothing is off-topic, we hope. There should be no restrictions or censoring. which no longer exists.”
Season Butler
Should the conversation head in an uncomfortable direction, any of us —Lena Šimić
should feel able to say so. There is no pressure to fill every minute of today We’re all broken. Vulnerable. Imperfect. Sheila Ghelani
with words. We can just be together. Chris Goode
Leading is not controlling. Not placing oneself above another. Kate Marsh
We hope it will be an interesting and useful day for you, as much as for us.
We aren’t looking for answers, just points of view which will inevitably lead It is enabling, feeding, nurturing. Recognising the impact of a nudge, a Do we surround ourselves with people who have names like ours? Who Pauline Mayers
to more questions. shifting weight, a smile. Encouraging the struggle for better without have histories like ours? Who look for futures like ours? Peter McMaster
allowing the distraction of perfection. Knowing what to share, and when. Jenny Sealey
We wanted to start every one of our conversations by saying these things, Do we see ourselves alone, surrounded by difference? By indifference?
Rajni Shah
and ask two questions to begin with. They are simple and complex and “Theatre is a training ground for Like a sun, a leader can turn against its universe. Sucking everything
Are we welcome? Do we belong? Lena Šimić
your answers can be as long as you like and we might come back to them. attentivity. So I worry that if I make a towards it, ever hungry for more. Full of destructive power leading not to
They are: new worlds but to its own steady spin. A black hole. and Tanya Steinhäuser
bad directorial decision, it means I’m Have we ever really been at home?
How would you describe yourself? a bad person.” —Chris Goode
… and: follow @2destlang
How would you describe the work you do?