• Acting Alone - Can one person make a difference?

      Hunt, Ava; Tilly Branson; Ivan Stott; University of Derby; Andy Purves (2015-11)
      Acting Alone is artistic research using solo performance, autobiographical, verbatim and documentary theatricals. Exploring the Israeli/Palestinian conflict through interwoven stories, the piece asks questions of the audience: Can one person actually make a difference? In 2014 Amnesty International (Derbyshire) commissioned Ava Hunt to create a provocation in response to the renewed confliction and humanitarian crises in Gaza. In its exploration of the complex situation faced by those living in Palestine, Acting Alone challenged the theatrical conventions most often experienced by audiences. Using immersive and participatory invitations, the piece encouraged the audience to interact and to cross the dramaturgical divide creating an ending where no-one, including the performer, knows the resolution. This artistic research builds on Hunt’s enquiry and work with artists and educators working in the West Bank, where she worked with children at the Aida Refugee Camp with Dr. Abedelfattah Absourer whose belief and commitment in the use of the arts in the community is to inspire ‘the beautiful resistance’. The performance offered a creative response to this ongoing war, oppression and abuse of human rights opening up a discourse of what is our responsibility and what action is possible from an international community perspective – a performative of hope.
    • Applied theatre solo performance: “Acting Alone” – artist led research exploring boundaries of performer / audience relationships

      Hunt, Ava; University of Derby (23/04/2016)
      Acting Alone is a solo performance based on seven years of artistic and creative research into the theatrical conventions used within Applied Theatre practice. Hunt’s solo performance research challenges the theatrical form, raises questions and provokes debate through the use of immersive conventions. Acting Alone toured extensively throughout the UK at festivals, theatre venues, in schools and colleges. The piece performed to a wide range of self-selecting audiences – age, class, religion, gender and cultural identity. Verbatim experiences of ordinary Palestinian people where told against documentary accounts of historical and autobiographical stories woven together to provide counter arguments against racist discourse. This applied theatre practice challenged the theatrical boundaries of performer/audience relationships through subtle moments of participation finishing with an invitation to make a difference.
    • Discipline-based political theatre solo performance "Acting Alone" - Artist-led research exploring boundaries of performer/audience relationships

      Hunt, Ava; University of Derby (International Federation for Theatre Research, 2016-06)
      Over the last seven years I have been drawn to making solo performance theatre inspired by true stories/verbatim material that both challenge me as an artist and as a researcher but also pose questions to audiences but can theatre contribute to social and political change? Acting Alone explores how solo/interactive performance might create “affect” as a tool for promoting social responsibility and political engagement. This paper will set out some of the responses to the performances from touring the piece both nationally and internationally, theoretical frameworks I have engaged with and what questions continue to drive my research. This piece is inspired by my research with artists and educators in refugee camps in the West Bank. The title “Acting Alone” provides a duality - that of acting vs activism – political intervention against the vulnerability of performing alone on stage - would I be alone at the end of a performance or would an audience join me in the conversation, a response to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict? Originally commissioned by Amnesty International (Derbyshire) Acting Alone is informed by performance efficacy and participatory engagement theory. In its exploration of the complex situation faced by those living in Palestine, Acting Alone challenges the theatrical conventions often experienced by audiences. It invites them to interact: to cross the dramaturgical divide and create an ending where no-one, including the performer, knows the resolution. In a unique performance style, tales are woven together, personal stories and folklore tales offer insight and reflection but ultimately the piece poses questions -at times of conflict, do we take action? Whose side are we on? What are we willing to risk? And can one person make a difference?
    • Human rights, participatory theatre and regional publics: Acting Alone and A Story to Tell

      Hunt, Ava; University of Derby (29/04/2017)
      This paper explores how artists are continuing to develop new participatory theatre models that address social and political issues within a human rights arena. Using my productions, Acting Alone and A Story to Tell, as its primary case studies, the paper will examine how efficacy can be created with different community audiences by experimenting with forms of participatory, autobiographical and verbatim theatre. Acting Alone is a monologue performance about Palastinian refugee camps from the perspective of a mother and artist, and A Story to Tell is a verbatim first-hand account of refugees in Greece. Informed by current refugee theatre, theory and practice, this paper asks how artists might use performance to engage audiences in revolutionary thinking in relation to immigration, refugees and human rights issues. Boal’s premise that theatre is a weapon for revolution will be drawn on; however, when audiences may not be directly positioned as oppressed or oppressor, what other concerns are raised? If refugee stories are presented without political advocacy, they run the risk of reenforcing images of refugees as victims and the spectator as voyeur or by-stander. How might we appropriate Boal's work to contemporary western theatre practice to promote engagement with complex international issues and awareness of our shared responsibility towards human rights - in spite of cultural and geographical distance from the issues presented? What action can be taken? Graffiti on the streets of Athens last summer declared: ‘Our grandparents were refugees. Our parents were migrants. We have become racists’ (unknown 2016). How can theatre be a revolutionary voice to address these global and national questions?
    • Hunt, A. (2015) Acting Alone: Performance and the Political. Presented and performed at Performance, Politics, Protest, UCC, 4 September..

      Hunt, Ava; University of Derby (2015)
      Acting Alone is an artistic research project that has resulted in creating a solo performance funded by Arts Council England and University of Derby. This performance piece builds on five years of practice as research and unique enquiry using Applied Theatre techniques based on Hunt’s experiences in Palestine. The focus of this research will be to extend and develop the interaction between performer and audience extending the boundaries of performance as a political act of protest. Acting Alone invites the audience to interact: to cross the dramaturgical divide that explores political action and provokes questions around what is our responsibility to conflict as an international community? The structure places the audience in a powerful participatory position without confronting or exposing them. Acting Alone has performed at five showcase venues throughout the East Midlands receiving positive responses from audiences and also some controversial protestations. For some audiences, the piece was verging on being anti-Semitic. Heckling as well as heated challenges was experienced. However, Acting Alone presents a wide range of characters – Israeli, Palestinian and European all of whom offer powerful counter narratives. There is a rich musical soundtrack only—this is theatre stripped back, to draw the audience into a world that has to be created in its entirety in front of their eyes. The play is a personal story, at times heart-breaking and at times funny, that asks questions of theatre makers and audiences –what risks should we take? Can one person make a difference?