WORKING TOGETHER: INTERDISCIPLINARITY & IGNORANCE
As if diplomats visiting from our different countries, Andrew Graham (performer, FR/GB), Efrosini Protopapa (choreographer and writer, GR/GB) and Susanna Recchia (dance artist and teacher, IT/GB), were picked up at Bremen airport by Kathrin Felzmann (applied theatre practitioner, DE), who had arrived a day before; the group then made its way to Oldenburg and enjoyed a welcoming meal, before settling into the theatre and getting ready to start the project.
The first couple of days included discussions around the long white table of Theater Wrede, amongst ourselves and with theatre director Winfried Wreke, which focused on the project’s aims and objectives, the methods we were going to use to work as a group and the practicalities of the residency.
Already from the start we were faced with questions, such as: How will we work collectively, building at the same time on the individuality of each person? Given the length of this project, how will we take the opportunity to try out new things and risk, but also how will we share our findings with others at the end of the residency? And, most importantly, how will we approach the topic of ‘the body of a diplomat’, as an interdisciplinary group of (bodies of) artists?
A main activity of the week included group readings of Jacques Ranciere’s ‘The Ignorant Schoolmaster’ (1981), which was followed by discussions on issues of knowledge and the principles of learning, will and laziness, attention and intelligence, language and communication.
Parallel to this, we started exploring some of the notions that are central to the theme of the project. For example: the figure of the diplomat, who is often described as polite and trustworthy, discrete, patient and loyal, a ‘fair-player’, a ‘gentleman’; diplomacy as an art, which often aims to conceal in 100 words something that you can say in 1 word; mapping and spatial representation, as potentially political acts of creating and negotiating borders.
Last, but not least, the first week gave us the opportunity to meet Oldenburg. Together with the theater’s intern, Ilonka Gries, Winfried offered the group a tour in the town, introducing us to key places, but also pointing out possibilities for visits outside town, towards the rich nature surrounding it. And, finally, we did not miss the chance to eat outdoors and to start exploring the nightlife of the city, where we met locals and even invited them to our sharing on the 3rd September.