5 January 2018
Starting the day with “les 7 Tibétains” warm up in the Tunis sunshine. Bastien will join us today for the lighting and sound design.
Yesterday we worked on organising our research material from both the Tunis and the Saint Denis residencies into broader themes – potential “chapters” for the performance. Our goal is to make stories rich in detail and local significance speak to audiences that are not necessarily familiar with the context of these stories. We want to blend stories from Saint Denis and from the Tunis medina, make them speak to each other and to the theme of fear more generally. In the future when we will do residencies in other neighbourhoods we will incorporate new stories into the performance: it will grow with our travels. Dragons will therefore have a basic structure made up of stories from past residencies that we will have already worked on theatrically, and new stories that we will gather and incorporate on the spot, adapting the show to a space (either indoors or outdoors) in the neighbourhood we will be working in. In order to try and create links between stories from our past residencies, we each made mind maps of themes we were interested in and listed the stories connected to those themes. Each one of us also had to find an object, an image and a sound related to each theme. In comparing each other’s mind maps we found that our main common themes were: fear linked to a big/historical event (terrorism, revolution, a big event that marked the life of inhabitants of a particular neighbourhood); the strategies employed by individuals and groups to rise up to fear/to shield themselves from fear; those moments when the stakes are so high that fear becomes a non-issue, les “enjeux” that trump fear (risky migration journeys, livelihoods marked by insecurity and constant encounters with the police, fear that never leaves, fear that is carried around on an every day basis and so becomes a basic state of affairs); the night.
In late afternoon, at the “crepuscule”, that hour when the medina transforms from being a busy place of passage and commerce into a quiet semi-deserted shadowy space, we went on a walk to find interesting spaces for performance. Wajdi took us to the “sabbat al 3arusa” (tunnel of the bride) and to the “hammam dhab” (hammam d’or), places linked to scary legends of jinn. The walk between the two was too long to make it interesting for a performance – we do not want any dead time between one performance space and another (le temps de marche entre les espaces est aussi en jeu). The sabbat al 3arusa space was particularly interesting – the tunnel had been walled up by the neighbours for a time because it was used by young people to drink and take drugs, since it was an unlit tunnel at the edges of the medina. When we had gone there during our last residency we had listen to Wajdi tell us about the story of the young bride stolen by the king of the jinn huddled at a walled up exit of the tunnel. The municipality has recently installed a lamp in the tunnel and have opened it again. The neighbours remain wary though – as we were exploring the space one of the neighbours came to ask us what we were doing, and told us that they have had a lot of robberies since the revolution, he keeps a bat by his front door and never goes out at night because of fear of being attacked. When the tunnel was reopened a couple of weeks ago local youth groups painted simple images on the walls in bright colours – silhouettes of faces and bodies, hearts, upbeat images – in an attempt to overcome the stigma of the tunnel and make it a more welcoming space.
The goal for today is to decide where we would like to perform on Friday the 12th.