Other ContributorsBranson, Tilly
AffiliationUniversity of Derby
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AbstractActing 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.
CitationHunt, A. (2016) Acting alone [Various venues, Derby, Nottingham, Cork, Hull, Grantham, Belper, Auckland, Halifax, Buxton, Frome, Chesterfield, New York. July 2015 - April 2016].