Theatre Diaries – Nairobi

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

Writes Daniel Goldman, Artistic Director

Over the weekend, I sat down ready to write a new blog and promptly gave up as I heard what was happening in Nairobi, a place I was directing less than a year ago.

It’s hard to accept that these things happen when everything we want to believe about ourselves as moral beings points the other way. That one group of humans is able to enter a shopping mall and kill another group of humans. In this case, in the name of a political cause.

The individual suffering of those caught up in political violence is a theme that runs through a number of the CASA shows this year.

To name just two shows, Teatro Malayerba’s Instrucciones para Abrazar el Aire is (mainly) about never forgetting the disappearing of children during the Argentine dictatorship of the 70s and then Tavarka Teatro’s Las Cunetas Florecen en Primavera explores with great visual beauty those who died and disappeared in the Spanish Civil War.

The crazy thing is that it’s become so easy for us to ignore. How do you connect with what is happening in Nairobi if you’ve never been, if you have no-one there. It becomes another story. A story to engage with for a few moments and then move on. And I do it all the time. I’ll read a story of some atrocity. In the next moment, I’ll be checking the cricket scores.

Violence is just a story if it’s not happening to us or to the people we know. Either we place it away from us or we reduce it to manageable numbers. Think about our we think of battles when learning about the past. The numbers of dead are grotesque.

Maybe, we’re not programmed to take it all in. We can’t take it all in. We have to transform it, ignore it, lessen it’s impact. I check the cricket scores.

Going back to the idea of violence as story, sometimes of course the story is so big that we are all affected. 9/11 being a good example. I know exactly where I was. How I heard about it. Where I watched the coverage. What people were saying. Hours in front of the TV. My brother being in the States trying to get a flight home to the UK. The death toll rising. My birthday two days later that was impossible to celebrate.

The irony being that in becoming such a big event in our lives, it 9/11 displaced another 11th of September, a date Chile and Latin America remembers for other reasons.

40 years ago today on the 11th September 1973, Salvador Allende was ousted by a military coup in Chile and in effect Pinochet’s dictatorship began. Our Chilean show Poder de Papel brilliantly dissects and examines how Pinochet built up his power. Most of the time they perform in the street. They want to reach as many people as possible.

I’ve wandered a bit in my argument but i guess that my point is that our stories are always superseding each other. And that it’s important to remember. To tell the stories again. And again. And again.

Three of our companies are doing so this year. Come and hear them tell their stories. And even if a day later, the story fades or is replaced, so be it. At the very least, the act of sharing, that beautiful act, took place… and for a moment we cared and that made us better and the more we do so, the more we share, the better we’ll become at it and it might just become a habit we can’t shake.

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