Crisis is not any longer the monopoly of ‘far-away’ African or Asian states. Nor is it confined to the world of the European and American underclass of precarious youngsters and workers. More and more, the realization takes root that precariousness – or the critical uncertainty of not knowing one’s immediate future – constitutes a fundamental characteristic of contemporary citizenship in the world after 9/11. The need arises, therefore, to take away the expertise from the usual containers of science and policy and throw the question – about today’s critical conditions, our changing horizons, our everyday responses – in the midst of people who actually undergo its consequences.
Interactive art constitutes an interesting way to embark on such a journey because it systematically destroys the privileged, unbroken view of the observer to transform it into a spectator, who at the same time is viewer and parcel of this staged reality. The scene becomes a symbol, a locale that reflects and at the same time challenges some of the underlying premises of contemporary social issues.
Since 2012 I have been member of a theatre company in Bologna by the name of The Compagnia dei rifugiati (Refugee Theatre), now called Cantieri Meticci. The company is directed by Pietro Floridia, who has a long experience with political and ‘travelling’ theatre. It originates in the theatre company ITC-San Lazzaro / Teatro dell-Argine, collaborates closely with Acting Diversity (pdf), an intercultural theatre project co-financed by the Anna Lindh Foundation (the Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures) and works together with the Extreme Political Art company Badac Theatre and the Palestinian group Al-Harah. The group is made up of over 70 people from more than 30 nationalities, whose work focuses on crucial issues such as citizenship rights, racism and migration. Through the embodied experience of intercultural art, it wants to contribute to cultural dialogue and the promotion of lived diversity as a means of active social participation and cooperation.
The Refugee Theatre began it its journey this season in November 2012 during Rome’s International Film Festival, on the occasion of the press conference of the United Nations High Commissariat for Refugees (then still headed by current President of the Italian Chamber of Deputees Laura Boldrini). The press conference was abruptly suspended by a staged armed incursion, which symbolizes the violent uncertainties that characterizes the lives of many refugees nowadays as in the past. At the same time, it also aimed at physically involving the conference participants whose daily lives are usually situated at safe distances from such unearthing experiences.
In Bologna the company has staged several spectacles. In 2012 it was involved in a laboratory based on Kafka’s The Castle shown during the yearly festival La Scena del Incontro. in 2013 La Compagnia dei rifugiati currently toured with a play based on Hans Magnus Enzensberger’s The Sinking of the Titanic, which radically symbolizes the crisis of our times.
The editing company Il Girovago and Expris Comics follow the workshop and spectacle with stories, interviews, photos, videos and comics that accompany the laboratory started in November up to the show this Summer.