• Acting alone

      Hunt, Ava; Branson, Tilly; Scott, Ivan; University of Derby (2016)
      Acting Alone is a practice-as-research solo performance (ACE funded; Amnesty International Derbyshire commission) which toured nationally/ internationally during (2014-2016). An autobiographical provocation inspired by the Israeli/Palestinian conflict based on Hunt’s experience of witnessing Playback theatre in the West Bank. The performance presented this human rights conflict to international audiences asking - can one person make a difference? Historical characters, who acted heroically, against the unheroic acts of Hunt in Palestine where woven throughout. This immersive piece created a strong performer/audience relationship which created powerful moments, during the performance, of audience participation e.g. joining in, helping, with small tasks contributing to the storytelling, leading to the final transformative moment when the audience would be invited to complete the show by crossing the dramaturgical divide. Acting Alone performed to multi-faith communities, studio theatres, non-theatre venues, schools, and at the Just Festival Edinburgh Fringe (receiving 5 star reviews) . The artistic and creative design of Acting Alone was inspired by Boal’s Forum Theatre, where audiences, as Spect-actors, are invited to rehearse a revolutionary act challenging their oppression, however, Acting Alone explored the role of the by-stander or the tritagonist. The tritagonist position is neither protagonist nor antagonist but opens up the third role exploring the agency of the international community. Performances and papers were presented and performed at academic conferences in UK, Ireland, New Zealand, USA and Sweden where Dr Rand (Massey University New Zealand) presented a paper to the IFTR conference inspired by the production entitled: Re-Enacting Palestine and the Performance of Credibility. Detailed responses from audiences (over one thousand) demonstrated discourse, political activism as well as controversial commentary including accusations of falsification and anti-Semitism. Enquiry into the by-stander or tritagonist role through audience/performer immersion, highlighted this new area of knowledge and practice which will be developed in Hunt’s forthcoming PhD.
    • Acting alone

      Hunt, Ava; Branson, Tilly; University of Derby (2016)
      Acting Alone was written and performed by Ava Hunt with dramaturgy and direction by Tilly Branson. This creative and artistic research used autobiographical solo performance explored social/political engagement through the creation and structure of the performer/audience relationship. The piece used autobiographical, verbatim and documentary theatre approaches demonstrating the complexities of being an artist making applied theatre. The piece enquired into the risks of taking direct action or experiencing the fear and humiliation of inaction. Retelling Hunt’s experience in a refugee camp watching a piece of Playback Theatre performed by Palestinian theatre company – The Freedom Theatre, this witnessed event was returned to throughout against other intertwining narratives: presenting historical/heroic characters (Irena Sendler and Rachel Corrie) who took direct action, together with verbatim accounts of people that Hunt met in Israel and Palestine e.g. an outspoken UN Lawyer, a young Israeli soldier from Birmingham. The piece also contains four simple folk tales that are told to help to illustrate the historical and political complexities of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict in an accessible form. Primarily, the piece explores human rights issues from a by-stander/international perspective by weaving participation throughout into a performance provocation, a space in which the audience were invited to cross the dramaturgical divide and engage in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict posing the question - can one person make a difference? Originally commissioned by Amnesty International Wirksworth, this applied theatre practice: Acting Alone toured throughout the UK and internationally performing to a thousand people in different communities, countries and contexts including the Edinburgh Fringe Festival as part of the Just Festival at St Johns Church, where it received critical reviews including: Five Stars from TV Bomb 2016: “Acting Alone .. ingeniously goes against audiences’ expectations regarding both the theatre art-form itself and the handling of the overly yet ineffectively debated topic of the sufferings of Palestinians.” Audiences engaged positively in the discourse created by this artistic research although for some the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is highly controversial and accusations of the piece being unbalanced were received, and the authenticity of the material questioned. Branson and Hunt responded to audience feedback where appropriate recognising that autobiographical and verbatim theatre offers alternative narratives offering audiences insight into Palestinian people’s experiences that are not widely reported. However, when critical reviews such as British Theatre Guide 2016 - Keith Mckenna said “….a thoughtful play given an engaging performance by Ava Hunt…..Theatre can help ensure that those suffering injustice are not isolated. The solidarity of those inside Palestine and those beyond make sure that those wanting change are not acting alone.” The tour enabled valuable primary data to be collected to support the research question creating discourse for audiences to enquire into the by-stander role as part of an international community.
    • 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?
    • The kites are flying

      Hunt, Ava; Maggie Ford; University of Derby (2013-05)
      A television reporter’s experience in the West Bank reveals how children’s hopes and dreams for peace can fly higher than any wall dividing communities and religions. Why won’t Said speak? Why does he make beautiful kites and let them loose in the wind? Following actor Ava Hunt and Director Maggie Ford’s recent visit filming in the West Bank, join us for this new one-woman multimedia performance, bringing this beautiful story alive with laughter, thrills and tears to a land where friendship has no barriers.
    • A story to tell

      Hunt, Ava; University of Derby (2017)
      Thousands of refugees flee from worldwide conflict every day – they continue to arrive on the shores of Europe – but what can we do? A Story to Tell, through poetry, readings and responses to the refugees fleeing conflict, presents first-hand accounts of people who have stood on the shores of the Mediterranean, who have saved lives, who have worked in the Jungle in Calais – these testaments bear witness to the dilemmas of us all who want to do something. An evening of powerful, honest and uplifting accounts – truly inspiring. This is the second piece that Ava has created with Amnesty, the first resulting in Acting Alone which has toured nationally and internationally to sell out performances and critical acclaim: “compelling” John Godber “Acting Alone .. ambitious and provoking” Buxton Fringe “accomplished theatre maker” Theatre Guru