At the recent 'relation and participation' symposium in Aberystwyth, NTW artistic director John McGrath spoke about a new paradigm through which to explore the opening year of National Theatre Wales. 'Commitment'.
Commitment rather than location? In addition to location? If we begin to think about theatre and the theatre of NTW specifically through this paradigm then what might that mean?
It might refer to the commitment by NTW to be innovative, engaged and international. It may refer to the ongoing commitment to specific communities in which or out of which theatre is made; this raises questions about what this commitment might be and how it might be constituted and understood in practice.
In some ways this commitment might be a fitting subject for audience research particularly in light of community projects which have historically come and gone from communities never to return, this commitment might quite simply take the form of going back or, in the context of the symposiums themes, maintaining the relations with the participants. NTW are clear about this aim and perhaps it will be through dialogue with these communities in the coming months that NTW might begin to articulate,demonstrate and develop this commitment. Possibly through further projects or by developing stronger links with NTW team members. Commitment might be the paradigm through which we understand what is to come rather than what has been and gone.
It was somehow fitting that John's talk was preceded by a video of an interview with Jacob Gough in which he spoke about working as a production manager in Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank. He spoke of the murder of 'Freedom Theatre' director Juliano Mer Khamis who was murdered on Tuesday 4th April 2011. He talked about post-traumatic stress amongst many of the inhabitants of the refugee camp; the anger that young people feel at having witnessed family members and friends being murdered. He talked about the threat to his own life and the threat to the lives of his colleagues.
John's talk and the video of Jacob have stuck with me for the last week. Relation, participation, location and commitment... there is a conversation to be had...