‘who is the hunter and who is the bird he seeks?’
The Bird is a devised community theatre and street theatre production. As directors and facilitators our purpose behind this project was to create a production for, and with, several different communities in Thailand that might explore the ways in which communities can come together.
We worked initially with 16 year old drama students at the international Bangkok Patana School; our company performers. The company aim was to create a community performance to an audience of the residents of Napo in Northern Thailand as part of the Napo Village Project.
The company devised their performance by working in collaboration with three additional communities, Pong Ploy School in Bangkok, Wat Ko Tra school south of the city, a local orphanage and Stephen Groh, a circus practitioner. The project was lucky enough to obtain sponsorship from business, Mattel Bangkok Ltd and considerable donations from the wider community. A secondary outcome was to provide some fundraising for a UN sponsored holding centre for women who had been arrested for visa offences in Bangkok, our fourth community.
Our first challenge was to answer some key questions:
- How can we devise a project relevant to the culture and experiences of the communities we will work with and perform to?
- How do we, as performers, avoid imposing our assumptions about the communities when devising?
- Can we assume the conventions and semiotics of our Western theatre traditions would be comprehensible to a young audience?
- How will we communicate with our audience? How many of our cast are bi-lingual?
- The project is touring, so how will we make it portable and exciting?