theatre can happen anywhere
Last year writers from around the world were invited to submit 30-minute plays for a new competition. Created by Brighton based organisation Sandpit Arts, the Bulbul 2012 awards invited writers to respond to the Arab Spring. The four winning scripts were produced at the Nightingale, and now two of these productions have been developed into one hour plays.
Tunnel (pictured) by Mags Chalcraft and Gather Ye Rosebuds by Silva Semerciyan are taking place as part of Brighton Fringe 2013. In Chalcraft’s work, after a tunnel between Egypt and the Gaza Strip collapses, professional smuggler Salim finds himself trapped with 17-year-old Ammar, a surfboard and a goat. Moving between hilarity and melancholy, Chalcraft’s play combines poetry and physicality to create a magical realist parable, while Gather Ye Rosebuds is a compelling exploration of friendship and gender set in Cairo, in the wake of a circumcision party.
We asked Akkas Al-Ali, Co-Artistic Director of Sandpit Arts, how the work has changed since last year’s showing.
NG: Having been part of this from the beginning what aspects of the development process are you most pleased with?
Akkas: I’m really excited by the fact that the writers say themselves that they’ve developed through the process, through their interaction with directors and the experience of the research and development days, where they got to investigate where their short scripts could go. For the second play, Gather Ye Rosebuds, it was interesting to see how Silva (Semerciyan) turned the play around. Because the last time it was on, we only saw one room, which was the kitchen in Cairo, but this year she’s taken us into a second room, where the other women are, and we we see the issue of female genital mutilation from the perspective of those women, the ones who are waiting to perform the circumcision.
NG: And how have you found audience responses?
Akkas: Positive. Just looking at the audience reaction [during Gather Ye Rosebuds] they went from sitting back, to sort of leaning forward. Silva plays with the audiences emotions, she makes you laugh and then a couple of seconds later you’re wondering ‘What have I just laughed at?’ which I think is really clever. With Tunnel the way the director Tanushka (Marah) has played around with the script so the form of the play is shown. It’s set in one of the tunnels between Gaza and Egypt and the entire play takes place in that tunnel. They play with lighting, they play with darkness. Seeing the audience react to that has been really positive.
Tunnel Written by Mags Chalcraft, directed by Tanushka Marah
Continues at 7.15pm until May 12th, book here.
Gather Ye Rosebuds
Written by Silva Semerciyan, and directed by Diyan Zora
Continues at 9pm until May 12th, book here.