The project

posted in: Ethiopian project | 1

 I am well aware that this blog is playing catch-up at the moment, with me suddenly appearing in Ethiopia, without the usual preamble, explanation etc.  So a summary:

I had been given Biniyam’s address in Ethiopia via my friend Conor, who I first met in Lebanon.  I followed this up with a flying (in both senses) reccy trip to Ethiopia in September, where I met up with Biniyam and Alazar, his friend, who is in charge(?) of a Film School in the city here, who seem to be operating as our base. The picture shows the Film School, which operates on the top floor of the building. The area behind the blue sign is a rooftop terrace that will be our studio; maybe our venue as well, if circumstances dictate.

And, having made some basic plans, here I am again.  I am here for exactly a month (the length of my visa) and the aim is to work with a group of young Ethiopians, getting to know them and casting them in a production, and then rehearsing and performing.  There is a script that I have brought with me, but I am also aware that I will have to be adaptable, and switch to something else if that does not look workable.

But the script is one that may be familiar.  Early on in my career at Lord Williams’s School, I wrote an adaptation of Shakespeare’s A Comedy of Errors.  And I have it a couple of times way back then.  Its most recent incarnation was about twenty years ago, when I gave it a commedia dell’arte feel with half-masks, and we performed it at Towersey Festival.  So when searching for a suitably physical, short production, of thirty minutes or so – we only have a month – this seemed to fit the bill.

Mind you, on coming back to the script, it was desperately wordy and clunky.  I wrote it at an early stage in my playwriting… career isn’t the right word, let’s say experience – so I set to with some serious editing before bringing it here.  And I think it does the business.  But the proof of the pudding is in the eating (I seem to be saying that a lot at the moment) so we will have to see.  I have brought twenty plain white masks to convert into commedia-type ones should that prove possible – I guess they’ve got wallpaper paste and paper, and that’s pretty much it.

The aim is to start work this week, starting with me introducing myself and my way of working to the group, and me getting to know them, so that I can cast them.


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