Sunday, November 20, 2022
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Buffer Fringe Performing Arts Pageant

Nabra Nelson: Salam Aleykum. Welcome to Kunafa and Shay, a podcast produced for HowlRound Theatre Commons, a free and open platform for theatremakers worldwide. Kunafa and Shay discusses and analyzes up to date and historic Center Jap and North African, or MENA, theatre from throughout the area.

Marina J. Bergenstock: I’m Marina.

Nabra: And I’m Nabra.

Marina: And we’re your hosts.

Nabra: Our identify, Kunafa and Shay, invitations you into the dialogue in the easiest way we all know how, with advanced and scrumptious sweets like kunafa and completely heat tea, or in Arabic, shay.

Marina: Kunafa and Shay is a spot to share experiences, concepts, and generally to interact with our variations. In every nation within the Arab world, you’ll discover kunafa made in another way. In that manner, we additionally lean into the variety, complexity, and sturdy flavors of MENA theatre. We carry our personal views, analysis, and particular company to be able to begin a dialogue and encourage additional studying and dialogue.

Nabra: In our second season, we spotlight US MENA theatremakers with an affect nationally and internationally. This season outlines the state of MENA theatre in the present day by way of the lens of multigenerational and multidisciplinary artists.

Marina: Yalla, seize your tea, the shay is excellent.

Nabra: At present we’re bringing you a particular episode outdoors of your ordinary season to speak to Lebanese actor, theatremaker, and peacebuilder Raffi Feghali, who’s curating one of many days of the Buffer Fringe Pageant. Buffer Fringe is an annual competition with a mission for peacebuilding and social justice, organized by House for Cooperation and located within the buffer zone in Cyprus. Buffer Fringe runs October seventh, eighth, and ninth 2022 for 3 days of worldwide interdisciplinary experimental fringe efficiency underneath the theme of Pockets (past).

Marina: One of many Fringe’s objectives this yr is to start out a frightening dialogue as they proceed to construct a bridge between the Buffer Fringe Pageant and Cyprus and the Center East. One of many Fringe organizers, Ellada, instructed that we converse to Raffi as a result of his method and curation are a mirrored image of the complexity of identities within the space as they method efficiency by way of experimentation and the politics of area.

A extremely essential factor of the Buffer Fringe Pageant is that it takes place in each North and South Nicosia in addition to within the buffer zone, within the area between the 2 sides. Because of this they’re in a relentless technique of negotiation of identification and battle transformation by way of the performing arts.

Nabra: So let’s be taught a bit bit extra about our visitor. Raffi Feghali is a performer, peacebuilder, and coach based mostly in Beirut, Lebanon. As a performer, he’s acted in lots of of performances throughout Lebanon, the Arab world, Europe, and the USA. Raffi is an improviser who contributed to the creation of a modest improv scene in Beirut by way of performances and coaching, in addition to by way of the creation of an improvisational theatre-based group that he left as a completely functioning entity after eight years to pursue an impartial touring profession.

Marina: As a peacebuilding marketing consultant, practitioner, and coach, Feghali has labored on initiatives in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Libya, Iraq, Yemen, and Türkiye in his fifteen-year profession. He’s an avid practitioner of Theatre of the Oppressed, Playback Theatre, and different associated codecs, a few of which have been of his personal improvement. Raffi makes use of project-based and experiential studying, and as such, has a holistic method to studying. For him, studying doesn’t solely occur on the cognitive stage of the human’s existence, however by way of all of their points of existence. For the final 5 years, he’s been bringing his multidisciplinary skillset to the company world by providing coaching and training on varied delicate expertise utilizing improvisational theatre and storytelling by way of his firm, Carry out. We’re so excited to have you ever with us in the present day. Thanks for being right here.

Raffi Feghali: In fact. I’m so comfortable to be right here truly. I haven’t heard about this podcast earlier than, after which after I heard about it, I used to be like, “Wow, it’s precisely the podcast that I ought to be listening to.” So thanks very a lot for inviting me and for giving me the prospect to know this podcast.

Nabra: Oh, thanks a lot.

Marina: We respect you being right here. And likewise, we’ve to notice that we didn’t get an opportunity to ship kunafa and shay to Beirut, to Raffi, so we owe him some the following time we’re all collectively, inshallah quickly.

Nabra: Yeah, we’ll should ship it.

Raffi: I feel that’s additionally essential to say that we’ve the perfect kunafa and shay right here, so after all.

Nabra: Oh my gosh, these are preventing phrases, Raffi. In fact, Egyptian kunafa and shay is the perfect kunafa and shay.

Marina: Oh my gosh, la’ [no]!

Raffi: I stand by what I say, and let the battle start.

Nabra: The battle shall start. All proper. It began in the present day. Let it’s recognized that that is when the kunafa and shay battle started.

Marina: Nabra and I at all times have this battle although, so I’m glad you’re on this web page with me. Earlier than we get an excessive amount of into the competition, are you able to inform us extra about your self? I watched a extremely fascinating video of yours about your work in improv and would love to listen to simply extra usually about your creative work.

Raffi: Sure, and this is among the most troublesome questions for me, and I feel once you hear me blab about it, you’ll uncover why. So principally, I’m on this planet of efficiency, and I do many issues in that world. Most lately, I’ve been extraordinarily attracted by the world of storytelling. So no matter I do in my work, it’s normally has storytelling on the coronary heart of it. So for instance, I do quite a lot of improv, and my improv is actually storytelling based mostly, greater than comedy based mostly. In fact, improv is at all times humorous, however I feel improv is humorous as a result of it’s seen at many layers, and a type of layers is definitely humorous, however one can give attention to the story and that’s precisely how I method my improv.

I spotted that improv not solely does it make theatre far more accessible, but in addition the abilities in improv I discovered make us higher people usually.

As a result of tales are my latest fascination, I additionally work in storytelling reveals. So my reveals are based mostly by myself tales, tales from my life, autobiographical, however I make them into thematic longer reveals. So I additionally work in that. I direct theatre additionally generally. I make sound design and music for performances, and I work in peacebuilding. And I additionally suppose the guts of that work is a narrative. I feel peacebuilding and my latest method to it has so much to do with the narratives, the narratives of battle and the way these narratives form the battle, whether or not propel it ahead or hinder it or nonetheless they have an effect on sure conflicts.

In order a peacebuilder, I additionally method it from narratives perspective, whether or not it’s on the stage of study, analyzing conflicts, or intervening in conflicts, or no matter else we will do with them. I feel that’s what I do. I feel I didn’t overlook something, or I put it in a manner that’s comprehensible.

Nabra: Sure, you probably did.

Marina: You do so much.

Raffi: I do so much. I do know. And yeah, I’m making an attempt to do much less, however it’s not straightforward.

Marina: Effectively, and so we’ve had some fabulous Lebanese artists on the podcast like Sahar Assaf, Zeina Daccache. We’ve talked about Hanane Hajj Ali’s play Jogging, however listening to about improv is mostly a first for us on Kunafa and Shay. Are you able to inform us why improv in Lebanon?

Raffi: So, I bought to be launched to improv for the primary time in a competition in Amsterdam in 2009. So, we have been invited to this competition, though we weren’t doing improv the best way folks know improv, we have been doing it in a really bizarre, totally different manner. And due to that, I used to be launched to improv by way of seeing performances within the competition, taking a part of workshops. And I spotted that we don’t have it in that type, we don’t have it within the type that improv is thought internationally. And I assumed that is one thing that has to come back to Lebanon. And I made it my mission from 2009 till 2017 to really carry improv trainers to Lebanon to coach us, for me to journey and get increasingly more educated in improv and are available again and unfold it. And I began a corporation, a theatre group, and I used it to be able to carry improv right here as a result of after I met improv for the primary time and coming from the background of theatre and peacebuilding and all of that, I spotted that improv… not solely does it make theatre far more accessible, but in addition the abilities in improv I discovered make us higher people usually.

I felt that everybody ought to a minimum of go to improv lessons as soon as of their lifetime, or possibly preserve going to lessons their entire life, even when they don’t wish to be performers. And that is why… as a matter of truth, particularly in the event that they don’t wish to be performers, as a result of the abilities that you just get from which might be actually life expertise. They make you higher at your work, they make you higher in your being as a human. It simply makes you a better-rounded particular person on the subject of life expertise and social expertise. So from that perspective, I assumed Lebanon can use improv.

Now there’s a small scene due to that motion that we began in 2009, and I feel there are just a few teams which might be doing improv now as an alternative of only one. We have been the one one for a very long time. Now there are just a few teams. Typically there are even month-to-month reveals when the season is healthier, when there may be theatre motion. You will discover possibly two or three reveals per week. Many workshops are taking place even inside teams that don’t do reveals. So I really feel that it’s spreading little by little. So yeah, that is I feel why it was essential for us to carry improv right here.

Nabra: Undoubtedly. Thanks for that.

Marina: Yeah. And also you talked about peacebuilding, and I’d love… As a result of I feel that actually does get us into speaking in regards to the competition and your peace work, however I’d like to know what does peacebuilding seem like for you now? And I’m certain that’s advanced over time as effectively.

Raffi: Precisely. It undoubtedly advanced. It began as a pure simply peacebuilding follow the best way it’s practiced by peacebuilding practitioners. However quickly sufficient, it didn’t take me possibly six months earlier than I spotted that what I’m doing within the theatre world… I had a day job as a peacebuilder in a corporation, and I used to be doing my theatre and music work after that job. And 6 months into that, I spotted that I used to be doing the identical factor, my day wasn’t altering a lot between the morning and the afternoon. I felt they’re so related. And theatre have been at all times speaking about what’s the battle? How will we cope with it? Which characters are in battle? And we’re analyzing that on a regular basis. And in my morning, I used to be speaking about battle from a unique perspective, possibly from a extra scientific perspective. So then my method to battle grew to become that peacebuilding is a science and an artwork. It’s each.

And I began bringing theatre as a lot as I can into peacebuilding and the ideas of peacebuilding as a lot as I can to feed my theatre follow. They have been feeding one another. And shortly sufficient, all my peacebuilding work grew to become channeled in the direction of simply being executed by way of the humanities. Afterward, my technical peacebuilding expertise developed, I began peacebuilding from a extra strategic perspective. I developed sure expertise and discovered sure instruments that make me have a look at peacebuilding as this improvement initiative that may be strategic, that may be measured. The science of it grew to become extra clear in my head. And the extra the science grew to become clear, the extra the humanities grew to become clear as effectively as a result of I used to be from that faculty the place it’s an artwork and a science.

So from that perspective, proper now I have a look at peacebuilding as an equal science and artwork. I work so much in analyzing battle scientifically. I do battle evaluation consultancies in sure battle areas. Just lately, I used to be working in Yemen and now in Iraq, and I work so much in Lebanon and Syria. And so in battle areas, I do the everyday, let’s say, battle evaluation utilizing some scientific instruments. However on the identical time, in these methods that we see, I’m at all times trying on the place the humanities could be strategically applied. After which when there are specific interventions, the humanities are at all times feeding these interventions, whether or not by making these interventions extra accessible to most individuals or by bringing theories from the world of theatre and artwork and making use of them in peacebuilding. For instance, a giant method to peacebuilding now’s: how do totally different conflicting events see the battle, their narrative in the direction of the battle? And there may be nowhere higher than theatre to debate narratives or to work with narratives or to play with narratives. And bringing this concept of play into peacebuilding and narratives and the way we will form them and reshape them to work with battle is now my greatest curiosity in peacebuilding.

Nabra: Oh, there’s a lot that you just stated that I completely love. Thanks for explaining that. And naturally, the Buffer Fringe Pageant is the right instance of precisely what you’re speaking about. So simply to start, quite a lot of of us, I’m certain, have no idea in regards to the battle in Cyprus and why there’s a buffer zone. So are you able to simply briefly clarify that and what the buffer zone is?

Raffi: So Cyprus is definitely a divided island. There’s a buffer zone in between the northern a part of Cyprus, which is Turkish when it comes to tradition, identification, et cetera. It’s an autonomous state. It’s known as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. After which there may be the southern half, which is the Greek half. And this has been happening for the reason that seventies, and it’s a battle between each events. That is why it was essential that the UN is available in and creates this buffer zone in between the north and the south. And that is the place the Fringe is available in. It’s a competition that takes place or that comes with the idea of being a theatre competition within the buffer zone, however on the identical time, we attempt to do reveals within the southern and northern half in addition to the buffer, to be able to break these boundaries between the northern and southern half, to make the space nearer.

The buffer zone isn’t that huge, however it turns into larger with time, not in geographical dimension, however within the affect it has on folks. It makes the space between them larger. After which a competition just like the Buffer Fringe tries to undo that, tries to carry folks nearer collectively, make this distance that the buffer is creating shorter amongst folks by making reveals, for instance, within the northern half or the southern a part of the identical competition, the place possibly folks would cross the buffer zone to observe reveals within the different aspect and even the buffer zone itself.

Nabra: And so the competition itself takes place on this constructing or group known as the House of Cooperation that’s proper within the buffer zone. So what’s the significance of that group? We have been studying a bit bit about it and it’s so thrilling what it does. And likewise in that query, who can go to the buffer zone? Can each side of Cyprus go to that location? Are there points with crossing that area? What’s it like there? As a result of I feel the one actually… an in depth, I assume, approximation that people could be considering of is the DMZ, between North and South Korea, which is actually type of a no-go zone. And from what I perceive the buffer zone isn’t like that. There are organizations there. There’s this stunning nonprofit, the House of Cooperation. So what’s it like there and what’s this constructing that you just’re in and the importance of that group?

Raffi: So the buffer zone is in contrast to Korea, it’s not a no zone. Anybody can go to the buffer zone. Anybody can cross from one half to the opposite. It’s simply an inconvenience, to be trustworthy. In fact, there are specific instances, sure insurance policies about sure paperwork that if you happen to don’t have, you can’t cross and issues like that, and sure variations in rights, whether or not you might be crossing from the Turkish aspect to the Greek aspect and what you’re allowed to do on both sides. However largely, the buffer zone is accessible for everybody.

And the House for Cooperation is definitely, as you stated, this constructing. As a result of within the buffer zone normally there are UN personnel, but in addition there are specific organizations, sure worldwide organizations. And the House for Cooperation is a neighborhood group, one of many few native organizations which might be within the buffer zone. And it’s a constructing that homes a number of organizations working in between possibly each side or on initiatives that embrace each side or something like that… I imply totally different sorts of organizations doing totally different sorts of labor. So it’s a home for various sorts of labor. It additionally has a really stunning cafe for folks to hang around and socialize. And it’s additionally the workplaces of the House for Cooperation itself. So it’s not only a constructing, but in addition the initiatives which might be undertaken by the House for Cooperation, the Buffer Fringe being a type of initiatives.

Nabra: So then speaking in regards to the competition itself, how do you curate the works within the competition? How do you determine what’s going to be part of that, and what’s your total creative imaginative and prescient for the competition?

Raffi: So this yr the competition did one thing new that’s extraordinarily fascinating, which is that they had a curator or a gaggle of curators for every day. So it’s three days. Someday is occurring within the south, someday is occurring within the buffer zone, and someday is occurring within the north. And for every of these days there’s the totally different curator. And I’m curating the primary day that takes place within the north. And it’s extraordinarily fascinating for me on many ranges. The very first thing is the north is the Turkish a part of Cyprus. And for me, it’s a private act of activism, so to talk, within the sense that my mom is a second technology genocide survivor, Armenian genocide survivor, which was performed largely by the Turks. So being… the grandchild of a genocide survivor, it’s essential for me to be working there as a begin.

The opposite essential factor is the placement that we discovered during which the primary day is occurring can also be extraordinarily fascinating. It’s this bookshop that has a backyard within the again, but in addition after the backyard, they’ve just a few huge shops which might be open to one another. So it’s an open area that appears like a hangar. And after we noticed the placement, I used to be like, “Wow, that is wonderful. This is usually a nice area for a number of performances, every happening in a unique a part of these areas.”

And the placement itself for me grew to become a part of the efficiency. So the entire day type of was deliberate as a efficiency in itself as, let’s say, type of a site-specific efficiency during which a present begins subsequent to the books as a result of the setup of the books can also be extraordinarily stunning. They’ve these cabinets going from the ground all the best way to the ceiling, and it’s a really excessive ceiling. And you’ve got these bridges on which you climb to be able to attain books which might be excessive. And so with the backdrop of a wall of books the place the primary efficiency begins, then we go into a correct studio like rooms for the opposite efficiency, then we go to the hangar for a few the performances. So I envisioned the place itself as a part of the story that I needed to inform. And the reveals are additionally totally different acts or totally different elements of that story, though each itself can also be a narrative, after all. This is able to be the primary day of the Buffer Fringe.

Marina: That’s unimaginable. Nabra and I have been trying—the theme is Pockets, this yr, which this hangar appears like its personal particular pocket—however the best way that the Fringe appears to be defining pockets is “Pockets of curiosity and creativeness.” And I really like the best way that you just’re talking in regards to the website. The location itself is form of performing on this pocket and this actually curious and thrilling manner.

Raffi: Precisely, precisely. Truly, the entire bookshop… the entire Rüstem bookshop is a pocket, if you consider it, and inside it, there are totally different pockets as a result of the world the place the books are could be very totally different than the place the opposite efficiency goes to occur, which is in studio rooms upstairs that they’ve. After which they’ve a sure backyard that you just undergo the place folks can hand around in between reveals, that’s additionally… it has the hangar on one aspect and the doorway to the bookshop on the opposite aspect, however it’s a backyard. So it’s like this little pocket of a backyard in itself that’s hugged by the hangar and by the bookshop. After which you’ve got the hangar as effectively type of hugging this entire area in a really stunning manner. So the area in itself is a pocket. Aside from the theme after all, the themes of the performances, every in its personal manner has its personal pockety theme, so to talk.

I considered the area as a location for a site-specific efficiency, after which the reveals simply occurred to be precisely what I wanted for that site-specific efficiency that I used to be designing.

Nabra: Are you able to discuss extra about that? Possibly give a pair examples of how pockets is a theme for the artwork itself. Yeah, I’ve by no means heard that earlier than, so it will be nice to get an thought of what that may seem like.

Raffi: Yeah, so it’s precisely within the power of how this time period could be seen in another way, that the competition, I feel did an incredible job with this theme as a result of the pockets could be seen in so many alternative methods. They are often seen as this small area during which I disguise one thing. On the identical time, they are often seen as this area from which I can get one thing out and get launched to it or introduce somebody who wasn’t seen it earlier than, introduce that particular person to what I’ve in my pocket, whether or not thematically or metaphorically. And the performances are doing that. So the Friday, the day that I’m creating, begins with a storytelling efficiency, begins with a telling of Ulysses in a musical manner, but in addition you’ve got somebody simply telling the story. It appears to be like like a studying of a narrative. It’s the rawest a part of how we carry out the studying, the precise written phrase, earlier than we take it wherever else, and accompanied with music. In order that in itself looks like they’ve a narrative of their pocket that they wish to inform us, and they’re studying it and they’re performing it with music. So we get launched to a sure… layer of what we imply with pockets.

After which we transfer on and we go upstairs to 2 rooms. We’ve got three rooms, and these three rooms are all used for a single efficiency. And that efficiency is a video set up with a performer speaking about their identification as queer Arabs dwelling in Europe. So now we’re taking the pocket to a unique layer, to a unique which means. So this particular person possibly discovered a pocket… I imply, that is my evaluation. I’d let Ahmad discuss his present, however the best way I see it, or the best way it is smart in my day is possibly this particular person was in a sure pocket when he was within the Arab world, if he ever lived there lengthy sufficient. After which he discovered a unique type of option to exist in his new house, in that new pocket. And even when that’s not his story, if individuals are getting that out of the story, for me, it’s a great layer of pockets as effectively.

After which we transfer on to the hangar the place the 2 performances happen. We’ve got a really stunning duo dance efficiency from Italy, after which we’re opening the idea of pocket. Now, it’s a dance, it’s an open area, and two individuals are speaking in a dialogue by way of their our bodies, by way of their dance. And we completed the night time with an digital music efficiency, which is for me, very symbolic of a gorgeous Friday night time. However on the identical time, that efficiency in itself with its projections, with the dwell music that’s being created can also be type of giving us a remaining and a conclusion to our day and as if we’re sitting now outdoors this pocket. We lastly noticed these totally different layers and we now are sitting outdoors it, and we will determine to return in if we wish or to not additionally, for me creating this third area expertise for the viewers going by way of all of those performances.

Marina: Wow. And so only for folks listening too, we’re going to hyperlink within the HowlRound transcript, the teams that Raffi simply talked about. So I feel certainly one of them is No one, from Cyprus. Second is A Queer Arab Dichotomy, from Germany. Third is Nostalgia for the Future, from Cyprus. After which fourth is Una Guerra Entre Nostoros from Italy.

Raffi: Truly the third and the fourth are switched. So we see the Italian dance efficiency by… Sorry, from Spain and never Italy. We see the Encuentro Theatre and Dance Firm’s present, Una Guerra Entre Nosotros, the third present. After which the fourth present is by Inal Bilsel from Cyprus, which is the music present.

Marina: Superb. Thanks. Yeah, simply so folks can verify them out too and see a bit bit extra about their specific work and highlighting these artists that you just simply talked so superbly about.

Nabra: I imply, that’s tremendous thrilling. That’s a complete creative expertise in a day. How does then the buffer section of the competition and the Cyprus section of the competition differ, I assume, or how are they much like the Turkish section? And the way do you curate all three of those bits collectively? I do know there are totally different curators, however how do you’re employed collectively to create this cohesive competition in three very totally different areas?

Raffi: So yeah, it’s fascinating as a result of after we have been selecting the present, the performances, we have been selecting them collectively. So we have been there listening to one another’s concepts of how they will method the theme of pockets. And I don’t know if we did this consciously, or we simply did it as a reflex, however we type of have these totally different interpretations of the phrase pocket for every day, however on the identical time, the truth that you might be working with that very same idea is a throughline, is a thread that’s holding these beads collectively. It’s like a bead… What do you name it? Not the chain, however some form of a beads—bracelet, let’s say. And every day is one bead, after which you’ve got this line going by way of them that’s connecting them, and that’s the idea of the pockets. Nevertheless, every bead is exclusive. Possibly it’s a unique… If we’re retaining with a bracelet instance, possibly every bead is a unique shade or a unique stone even. Yeah, I feel it’s a very totally different, a gem, however they’re linked along with that thread that’s the Buffer Fringe Pageant and it’s theme for this yr, the way it superbly falls in place.

So the totally different curators for the opposite days approached this theme in another way. They selected their reveals in another way due to their totally different method, and that is giving this competition an incredible range, an incredible set of various sorts of reveals taking place over the interval of three days. So yeah, I feel that is what makes this particular competition actually robust, apart from the truth that it’s taking place in a buffer zone and between two areas which might be in battle.

Nabra: And so talking of, after all, being on this potential controversial area, this politically contentious ambiance, have you ever confronted controversy across the competition prior to now and the way have you ever addressed that or actually articulated your mission when there are such a lot of, I’m certain, totally different concepts of what ought to be taking place or shouldn’t be taking place on this area?

Raffi: So to be trustworthy, my solely different expertise with the competition was in 2019 after I had the efficiency within the competition. So I carried out within the competition as a performer, and that is my second… collaboration with them, the place I’m a curator for an entire day. So I do know that previously in different installments of the competition, after all there have been controversy. I don’t know the small print of them. However as a result of in each occasions that I used to be there, now and the time I carried out, I used to be very a lot targeted on what I used to be doing there, and I wasn’t met with that controversy. I didn’t expertise it firsthand. However all I find out about these controversies is what I do know from listening to about them greater than truly experiencing them or coping with them or working with them.

Nabra: I imply, that’s good to listen to that as a performer, that was not an expertise you had, that it’s not this contentious area for the performers, which is thrilling. And likewise simply listening to that you just carried out on this competition, are you able to discuss simply briefly about what your efficiency was?

Raffi: Yeah, this was my first autobiographical monodrama, it was known as Peer Gynt of Bourj Hammoud. And I feel I did it in 2019, the competition…onerous to say… I feel it was 2019, sure. It was a private journey into discovering or on the lookout for my identification. I grew up in an Armenian neighborhood of Beirut. And rising up as half Armenian, half Lebanese, the entire thought of what’s this mixture of identities? What’s being Lebanese to start out with? What’s being Armenian to start out? If I used to be purely Armenian, what does that imply? Armenian within the diaspora. What does it imply if I’m Lebanese? What does it imply when they’re collectively? Are they totally different? Are they related? What does that do to my belonging, to my identification? And it was the search.

And I used Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt play as a result of Peer Gynt is that this character that Henrik Ibsen wrote who goes out on this bodily journey, leaves his hometown, goes on a journey, meets many issues on his manner, however all of this journey leads him again to his village. And I used it as an analogy, as a parallel story to my search rising up and navigating the totally different ideas of what does it imply to be Lebanese? What does it imply to be Armenian? And doing all of this journey myself, inside journey. So it was like this inside journey being paralleled with this bodily journey of Peer Gynt, and these two tales coming collectively or separating all through the present.

Nabra: That’s wonderful.

Marina: Yeah, I’m like, I ought to revisit this textual content.

Raffi: I want to hear your opinions after you’ll watch the present as effectively. I’m undecided, if you happen to’ll nonetheless be in agreement, however let’s see.

Marina: Sure. Effectively, and in order a curator, simply going again to the folks that you just’ve curated for this present day, this actually full day of artwork, what was your course of in deciding on the teams? How did you select them? Did you have already got pockets in thoughts? And have been you selecting them based mostly on the artist or the group or on the actual piece that you just knew that they might carry?

Raffi: Good. So I’m going to say issues right here that I hope keep a secret as a result of I haven’t stated these to anybody earlier than.

Marina: All proper, effectively, we’re on a podcast. So excellent. Good secrets and techniques.

Raffi: Sure, excellent place to say this for the primary time. Possibly it’s additionally simpler for me to proper now that I get them out of my conscience, I really feel higher about it. It’s been haunting me ever since we did this selecting. So right here are some things. To begin with, I went to the assembly the place we have been alleged to current our decisions, having a shortlist of possibly forty or fifty reveals from 270. It wasn’t actually a shortlist. It was one of the crucial troublesome duties in my life.

So, oh, some context, that is the primary time that I ever curated something, not only a efficiency competition. I can barely curate my very own garments within the morning. So that is the primary time, that is time I’m doing something that’s near curating, so I do not know the way it’s executed. So that is why my method to it was extra like, you understand what? I’m directing a efficiency. That is the way it occurred. This was my straightforward manner out, let’s say.

I began bringing theatre as a lot as I can into peacebuilding and the ideas of peacebuilding as a lot as I can to feed my theatre follow.

So what occurred was I went with these fifty reveals, and it was probably the most troublesome factor I’ve ever executed in my life. I went by way of the 270 reveals, possibly… Greater than 270, even. I went by way of them possibly tens of occasions. They usually take quite a lot of work. These are 270 reveals. A few of them despatched their full present to observe. So loopy. And I went by way of them tons of occasions, and I couldn’t do something besides very, very painfully select fifty of them. And I went to that assembly, I used to be like, I couldn’t do something. I’ve fifty, I can not select lower than that. And even earlier than I selected, we have been most likely over price range. They needed to discover new price range to get these 4 reveals. So 4 was already so much, and I went with fifty.

So, and that assembly, I used to be staying in Cyprus for some time, going to seek out the placement and all that. And what occurred is I selected… Don’t inform anybody, that is the key half. I selected the placement earlier than I selected the reveals, and that made issues extraordinarily straightforward for me. So as soon as I had the placement, as soon as the placement was telling me its personal story, it’s as if the present was simply stated, “Right here we’re, these are the reveals that match on this place. From the fifty, these are the reveals that work with the story that the area is telling. These are the reveals that work.” I didn’t have to decide on. They really selected me. All I needed to do was select the area from the choices that they offered me with. They confirmed me just a few locations and I used to be like, what? I would like this area, and if this area works, let me know.” A few days later, they arrive and inform me that area labored, and I used to be like, “Oh, listed below are the reveals.” I didn’t even select them. They selected themselves.

I feel that is probably the most newbie curator course of ever, however that is all I knew easy methods to do. I selected the area. I considered the area as a location for a site-specific efficiency, after which the reveals simply occurred to be precisely what I wanted for that site-specific efficiency that I used to be designing.

Marina: That’s good. I’d say that’s truly possibly a sophisticated transfer to essentially let the area converse and name issues into it. That’s actually unimaginable.

Raffi: Yeah. And the selection of the area, since you additionally requested the place the theme got here in my course of, the selection of the place got here as a result of after I checked out it, I couldn’t see something besides pockets. Even when pockets was not the theme, I might look and see pockets in that place as a result of it’s this huge place, however on the identical time, all of the corners are very cozy and small, as if possibly the identical proportion of what a pocket can be in your pants or in your shirt. It’s a giant area with totally different pockets. So I felt like, “Wow, it can’t be any extra pockets than that.”

And the fifty that I had chosen earlier than… And that course of and the method of bringing 270 reveals into a brief record of fifty… a protracted record of fifty was additionally impressed by pockets as I used to be trying by way of the themes, by way of the concepts, by way of the ideas, by way of the style of efficiency, by way of the medium. So there have been two totally different pockets taking place in parallel in my head, after which they got here collectively after I selected the place. So yeah, that is how the theme guided my course of, my very newbie course of.

Marina: That’s unimaginable. I’m sorry for not understanding this, however will there be talkbacks after the items? Is there a manner for different folks to get this expertise of listening to the work after which getting to speak about it extra, or are these form of extra casual conversations that occur?

Raffi: To this point, there’s undoubtedly areas for casual conversations to occur. I do know that in my day, there may be the cafe that I’m hoping that individuals would use in between reveals or after the reveals to hang around and possibly discuss in regards to the performances. And since that bookshop is contained inside itself, they don’t have quite a lot of different choices. I’m not manipulating them, however that is how the area is. They don’t have quite a lot of choices besides of being in that cafe space. And since we’re there, we’d as effectively discuss to one another type of factor. So it sounds very manipulative, however it actually wasn’t deliberate that manner. So there may be that area. However I feel the curators and the organizers have been in dialog about having extra formal areas for dialog. Nothing is deliberate but, however we’re nonetheless within the talks of most likely having possibly extra formal setups for having conversations relating to possibly the reveals like a chat again or QA or simply artists hanging out with the viewers who got here and watched them and issues like that.

Marina: That’s so essential. And I don’t suppose it’s manipulative. You’re utilizing the area to your benefit, like all true theatre artists, proper?

Raffi: Sure, sure, sure. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And we don’t wish to go within the dialog of the place does theatre and manipulation begin but?

Nabra: That’s a dialog for a unique episode. Yeah?

Raffi: Precisely. I’d be comfortable to be on that episode, clearly.

Nabra: We’ll name you.

Marina: So we’ve talked about quite a lot of totally different points of the competition, together with your creation, together with simply the place and the way it’s taking place. Are there issues we haven’t talked about but that you just really feel like somebody listening to this could know both in regards to the competition, in regards to the work that you just and different organizers have executed placing it collectively, or in regards to the items themselves?

Raffi: So I feel you’ve got ready very well for this, and your questions coated nearly all the things. I simply wish to say that as a performer, I’ve been to a number of festivals and most festivals, whether or not they prefer it or not, they’re bringing a neighborhood collectively. They’re type of engaged on having this neighborhood go right into a dialogue. And these dialogues are extraordinarily wealthy as a result of they’re facilitated “by performances.” So it’s wonderful, you’re taking folks into this third area the place they will have conversations about heavy issues, however then they can’t keep an excessive amount of mental as a result of life is true outdoors this door. So it additionally displays on life.

Raffi: So festivals do this. Particularly festivals that go on for days, they do this. However I don’t suppose they do this as a lot because the Buffer Fringe particularly due to the place it takes place, particularly due to the buffer zone, particularly as a result of it’s throughout battle line. And the best way this competition insights dialogue and the best way this competition facilitates dialogue. I feel is genius. And I’d invite anybody who can attend any version… To not say this one. I’m not making an attempt to promote this particular version. I’m saying anytime, any October in your life the place you could be in Cyprus to verify this out. It’s undoubtedly an expertise. It’s undoubtedly like strolling from one aspect of Cyprus, by way of the buffer zone, to get to the opposite aspect to observe a present, and it’s an expertise. After which strolling again and possibly staying within the buffer zone, it’s an expertise actually, and it’s a really particular and distinctive expertise.

Nabra: Effectively, it’s undoubtedly on my bucket record now.

Raffi: It’s in your buffer.

Nabra: My buffer record. Sure. I adore it. Effectively, thanks a lot for becoming a member of us on this episode. It’s so thrilling to have the ability to spotlight this Fringe Pageant. If you happen to’re listening earlier than this competition begins, run, go to Cyprus, fly, run, take a ship. And we want you the perfect with the competition and with your whole peacebuilding work, particularly in that space throughout the Center East, throughout Lebanon. So that is simply so thrilling to speak to you. Thanks.

Raffi: Thanks very a lot for having me on this wonderful podcast. I’ve been going by way of the previous episodes that I missed, and I used to be like, “Wow, all these wonderful folks that I’ve labored with or that I’ve heard about are right here. I’ve a lot to meet up with.” So thanks very a lot. Actually, I really feel very proud to be amongst your record of company. So thanks very a lot for inviting me. I’m so honored and comfortable to be right here. And thanks very a lot to your nice work.

Marina: The consideration is ours. Thanks. Thanks a lot for having tea with us.

This has been one other episode of Kunafa. We’re your hosts, Marina and Nabra. This podcast is produced as a contribution to HowlRound Theatre Commons. You will discover extra episodes of this sequence and different HowlRound podcasts in our feed on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you discover podcasts.

Nabra: You should definitely search HowlRound Theatre Commons podcasts and subscribe to obtain new episodes. If you happen to liked this podcast, publish a score and write a evaluation on these platforms. This helps different folks discover us. You can even discover a transcript for this episode together with quite a lot of progressive and disruptive content material on

Marina: Have an thought for an thrilling podcast, essay, or TV occasion the theatre neighborhood wants to listen to? Go to and submit your concepts to the feedback.

Nabra: We hope you tune in subsequent time. Thanks for becoming a member of us on Kunafa and Shay. Yalla, bye.



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