The article proposes that recent discoveries in neuroscience have highlighted the dramatic nature of being human. The detection of mirror neurons, adjacent to the previously revealed motor neurons, has strengthened a view of the human as a player: one who processes her understanding of both self and other through life-long, playful, experimental dramas. We are stimulated to produce empathic responses by watching the dramas of others. An improvisation in which we accept the offer of the other and give back one of our own is both a metaphor for the human condition and a description of it. Anti-social forces disrupt circuits of neurons and damage our function as actors, characters and audience. Instead of being open to accept others, we cower tribally in the ranks of ‘our own’, projecting dangerous motives onto other tribes. Through Brecht’s aesthetic of Verfremdung I examine how theatre intensifies empathy and distance, before applying it to the theatre company Cantieri Meticci. This Company brings migrants together with Italian citizens to explore questions around migration and identity. What the implications of man as player for organising a curriculum that enables rather than stifles the dramatic potential of each of us.
The article presents some facts and figures of today’s migration, which do not support the currently dominant negative discourse on migration, especially in the western and northern worlds. In addition, the article analyses this discourse based on concepts derived from fields other than migration studies, including Julia Kristeva’s abject, Foucault’s object, Pupavac’s therapeutic governance of societies, and others. In doing so, the article describes the potentialities of social and community-based theatre in aiming at resolving some of the problems of integration, biases, social cohesion that migration brings with itself, while also highlighting possible epistemological and ethical limits and risks of the use of theatre in activities linked to the institutional response to the management of migration.
This article is concerned with the European public theatre system’s relationship with migration. Focusing on the Portuguese theatre landscape and especially Lisbon, the essay will map some of the major issues regarding theatre and migration today, identifying both systemic failures and structural and aesthetic shifts in the public theatres’ engagement with migrant communities. Contemporary performative approaches will be surveyed with a special emphasis on initiatives that go against crisis narratives and position migration as a structural component of society rather than a temporary challenge. The article proposes a shift from aesthesized theatre practices towards activist aesthetics, a politically responsive, participatory and durational practice that would not only introduce counter narratives on migration, but it would be instrumental in re-thinking our national cultural, literary and theatrical canons.
For Michel Foucault at the end of the 18th century biopower emerged as a new political form defining a new type of social body. Achille Mbembe, challenging Foucault’s concept of biopolitics, asks if ‘the notion of biopower [is] sufficient to account for the contemporary ways in which the political, under the guise of war, of resistance, or of the fight against terror, makes the murder of the enemy its primary and absolute objective’ and ‘what place is given to life, death, and the human body (in particular the wounded or slain body); and ‘how are they inscribed in the order of power.’ In this paper I will address such questions by engaging with art works that respond to the contemporary migratory crisis. Specifically, I will instigate a dialogue between the work of Berlin-based art collective Center for Political Beauty (CFPB) and the work of Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei. Two works, produced in 2015, will be at the core of this study: the controversial action The Dead Are Coming by CFPB and Ai Weiwei’s re-enactment of the image of drowned infant Alan Kurdi, which became an iconic image of the “refugee crisis”. In conclusion I will show how in times of migratory crisis inclusion is possible only through a via negativa, what I call “a necropolitics of inclusion”.
The aim of the essay is to consider how the Ravenna theatre company ‘Teatro delle Albe’ represents the theme of migrations from Africa to Europe. A brief history of the company will show how the integration of migrants from Senegal into the group responds to directives and needs that are at the heart of the Albe theatre. Teatro delle Albe looks to the ‘other’ not for moral norms or moralistic social utopias, but because theatrical art is enlivened by the relationship with what is the ‘other’. For this reason, the Teatro delle Albe is a pioneer in Italy of a creole scene. This article describes some of the company’s shows. This shows that the issue of migrants is not dealt with in a univocal way: in some shows, the Albe theatre does not stage migrant actors, but deals with the theme of journeys from Africa to Europe; in others they put on the same stage differences in cultures. The essay aims to open up new reflections, beginning with the short account of an artistic and cultural history in whose folds we find the attempt to arrive at a more precise and truthful collaboration, in view of a stage on which integration would not only played but lived.
This article is an investigation of how Live Art performance can add insight into attempts to include the ‘real’, in this context the social reality of migration and the refugee. Based on a reflective analysis of the performance of Mustafa Y vs. Secretary of State, the article proposes that Live Art exists in between professional and social theatre. Immersive Live Art performances were structured around the legal process of asylum, one that trespasses across the boundary of documentary and fictional performance practice. The purpose, however, was not to get the ‘participant’ audiences to change whatever may be their political view. Engaging with Jacques Rancière on the relationship between politics and aesthetics, and Giorgio Agamben’s concept of bare life, they were an investigation of how Live Art can alter the structures of seeing and challenge notions of national identity and political rights, arguably adding to a process of creating more inclusivity for asylum seekers and refugees.
This paper presents the work of the Exil-Ensemble: a platform for professional artists, who live in exile. The introduction contestualizes the project – born in 2016 at the Gorki Theatre in Berlin – in relation to Germany’s migratory situation. It then addresses the complex issue of the professional performer’s status as a refugee, working for a European institution. The essay then proceeds to analize the company’s first production, Winterreise, which brings to the stage a journey through Germany and Switzerland, undertaken by the actors and the director, Yael Ronen. Discreetly balancing biographical and fictional elements, the piece – open in many regards to performative experimentation – turns out to be a journey of exploration of the hosting culture. It is an exercise of de- and re-construction of stereotypes, and a reflection on concepts such as ‘migration’ and ‘homeland’. The reality of the Exil-Ensemble is an example of a multi-ethnic and inclusive cultural politic, which confirms theatre to be a secure arena for scrutiny, an observatory of social dynamics, and a testing ground for a possible coexistence.
How can Theatre exercise the power of generating inclusion? At the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2017, three different shows dealt with the migratory flows through their practice, genre, and intentions. Dear home office: Still Pending, Old Stock: a refugee love story and An evening with an immigrant tackle the common theme of immigration through different theatrical genres in which the artistic practices of professional and social theatre all intend to generate a direct contribution to the process of inclusion of migrants. The paper focuses on the peculiarities of the three works, showing the existence of natural osmosis between the effectiveness of theatrical representation and the feeling of inclusionwithin the issue of emigration. Considering these heterogeneous experiences, the study highlights two ways in which theatre can favour inclusion.One that acts on the viewer through the testimonial strength of real stories and situations, and the other that involves the actor on stage. For the performers in Dear Home Office, which are non-professional actors and immigrants, inclusion is a direct effect of the theatrical practice; in Old stock, instead, the actors and musicians convey a message of inclusion through the narrative plot of the show. The Nigerian InuaEllams in An evening with an immigrant, shows, in his identity as a professional performer, an inclusion realized as a synthesis of the first two cases: the theatre is his occupation and, at the same time, a place to tell the story of his immigration.
The city of Turin is a privileged place in which to observe the relationship between performative practices and interculturalism, according to a perspective of social inclusion. This paper aims to map and analyse some of the most significant experiences that, during Spring 2018, have promoted the theme of a multiethnic and multicultural community, by means of different strategies and tools. The study draws on a series of case studies, from the ‘choreographic frescoes’ of Virgilio Sieni who represented, on May 1st, in Torino|Ballo 1945, a community of people of all ages, social backgrounds and origins – to Border Tales by Luca Silvestrini – which investigates the dynamics of multicultural integration in the London of the new millennium, in its most stereotyped forms. Likewise, Gabriele Vacis’ Cuore/Tenebra is the first performative outcome of a series of actions promoted by the Teatro Stabile di Torino. Finally, the article focuses in particular on the processes of social construction through the arts that emerge from the projects of Turinese winners of the Migr-Arti Call promoted by MiBAC, including Alma Teatro’s La Giovine Italia, Associazione Didee – arti e comunicazione’s Altri racconti and Il mondo in una stanza by the Social Community Theatre Centre | UniTo. In the light of these experiences, the city stage puts the performing arts to the test in their challenge to put a cultural policy of reception and inclusion of migrants into practice.
Pontedera is a little industrial city with a relevant presence of foreign immigrants. It is also the Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards Workcenter historical seat, that opens his workspace inside an old farm located in the nearby countryside. Since two years, the Workcenter associate director Mario Biagini has been conducting an artistic research entitled “Invito al Canto” with his Open Program group. This project involves cooperatives, associations and citizen informal communities but also young African asylum seekers and refugees. Its purpose is to rediscover what we might call an ‘Art of the encounter’, taking the form of so-called Incontri cantati. These events take place mainly inside non-theatrical spaces and they aim to stimulate participants to become co-creators of a unique and always original artwork, using dances, songs coming from the African diaspora, or simply a qualified attention. Moving from an exquisitely artistic approach, this original performative practice seems to go further cultural and social differences. It creates a space of mutual recognition and it responds to our time greatest challenges in a brand new way.
Following an ethnographic approach, the study explores the meaning of inclusion and intercultur-Following an ethnographic approach, this study explores the meanings of inclusion and interculturalism as conveyed by some performing arts and urban sport groups in the city of Milan. Results show a big presence of young people in public space, with a massive participation of young immigrants coming from the Philippines and South America. Concerning social inclusion, the groups revealed an implicit agreement of space sharing and self-regulation which testify to a predisposition to openness with others. The real acknowledgment of diversity, which is a specificity of interculturalism, occurs only under particular circumstances: during the performer-spectator relationship, and when practitioners belonged to the same disciplines. The research also shows the presence of transcultural processes among these practices.
The article focuses on the role of the theatre in promoting processes of inclusion in non-artistic contexts of intervention such as Development Cooperation and Mental Health and Psychosocial Support. In particular, it refers to the interventions of ‘awareness creation’ and ‘capacity building’ developed according to the methodology of Social Community Theatre at the two extremes of the migratory journey: Ethiopia as a starting point, with the local population of potential migrants; Calabria as arrival, with the young unaccompanied migrants, guests of the reception centers. The highlands of rural Ethiopia and the Calabrian coasts of Crotone are two geographical points, which, although not actually the real extremes of the same migratory journey, constitute topical places of the imaginary and of the European discourse on migration. The article highlights the challenges and the innovation achieved in terms of theatrical methodology. Moreover, in the dimension of intersectoral partnership it indicates an area that implies the development of theatrical forms of intervention and new professions that deal with artistic care of the community.
In 2017, a group composed of institutions, communities and associations belonging to six different faiths, cultural/artistic performers and citizens together developed, in Brescia, Dòsti – Ideas for a Festival of Religious Arts and Cultures. This was a pilot project that sought to facilitate intercultural process and interreligious dialogue through the use of performing languages, active participation, interaction and cooperative planning. This article aims to show: 1) the reasons why performing arts are an effective instrument to establish positive relations within a multicultural and plural community; 2) the steps taken to connect the social actors concerned; 3) the major problems that arose in the process of promoting dialogue among people from different faiths, in reference to: event structure, ethnic/religious community participation, citizen involvement, difficulties in dialogue/relations, the role played by the performing arts in overcoming interaction difficulties; 4) the potential that emerged from the use of performing practices for the development of Dòsti as an interreligious and intercultural process, in terms of: reciprocal knowledge and recognition among faiths and cultures; involvement and authorship of the communities; participation of young people, both as audience and as ‘authors’; the quality of socio-cultural policy and interaction among religious groups, institutions and the third sector.
Within the context of European immigration policies, Italy is an emblematic case, due to its lack of a defined integration model, that makes non-public actors play a significant role in the reception and management of the newcomers. Starting from these considerations, this essay aims to show how the performing arts – especially social theatre – can be successfully used for the integration of migrants, through a case study: the practice of Asinitas, a not-for-profit organization based in Rome since 2005. In particular, the essay focuses on the activities carried out at the Miguelim Intercultural Centre for women only, which may be considered an example of application of the methodology of social theatre.