Looking Back at the Process

My Brother’s Country comes to The Aldridge Studio Thu 26 – Fri 27 February, and Javaad Alipoor talks us through the creative process so far. The production is brought to The Lowry by Soroush & Routes North, a partnership between ARC Stockton, The Lowry & Theatre in the Mill.

“As we look to opening the show play, after a few last minute bits of work, Natalie and I thought it would be a nice time to begin thinking about some of the parts of the process of making this play that really attracted us to this project.

First, working as two directors on one play has been challenging at some times, but brilliant at most.  Fundamentally, I think we are both sure that the play is better for it, so I think we have to fundamentally acknowledge it as a success.  We have both brought different strengths to the process, but the perhaps the most inspiring moments (those where we feel we have created something quite fresh)  have been when we have been able to work on each others specialism.


One of the other big issues we have been trying to work through in this play has been this idea of “Orientialismo” that we developed when thinking about the project.  Taking the idea partly from Torquata Neto’s notion of “Tropicalismo” (Tropicalia in Brazilian Porteguese), and partly from Peter Lamborn Wilson, its perhaps instructive to share one of the roots of this idea.  Tropicalismo was a latin american movement, that sort to disrupt and overthrow the “tropicalist” stereotypes of Latin America, not by making art that stood in contra-distiction to these, but rather in embracing a sort of “internal-critical valorization” of these idea and stereotypes.  One of its main themes was that of cannibalism, a part of Latin American tropical history that occupies a central space in the white and colonial imagination.  Neto and his co thinkers chose to embrace this, and in their first manifestos wrote about cannibalism as being one possible way for the multi racial and postcolonial working and rural classes of Brazil to describe a form of cultural practice that makes and remakes the past, within an ever changing image of itself.  One of the first practical results of this was the album Tropicalia, which has massive massive tunes on it, such as the frankly epically funky Miserere Nobis: 

With Oriantalism, we are trying to explore a similar methodology in terms of the east and its stories.  Within the context of My Brother’s Country this is about looking at the steretypes of a pre 1980 “glamorous middle east”, and, instead of looking at the usual dry, stale and frankly racist dichotomy of a small “enlightened and secular” island of glamour within an ocean Islamic reaction, we have tried to find a way of engaging with the “oriental glamour” that a new generation of Middle Eastern youth see in their own past.  At the same time, we are trying to investigate the contours and the contradictions of this.  To be honest, at the minute I’m not sure what exactly all this means, other than we have a made a love story that is blown apart by poetry and revolution.

Over the next couple of weeks, as we tour the play and then think about the process, we will be continuing these discussion, and also touching on the work we have been trying to do on a neo-epic theatre.  We hope to get our audiences in on this too.

The last few weeks has been an exhilerated time as we have created and lived with our own Fereydoun and Forough Farrokhzad’s, 1968s, 1979s and collapses of the Berlin wall.  We hope you enjoy living with them for an hour too.”

Javaad Alipoor

February 20, 2015 Javaad Alipoor

Please follow the link for the orginal post and more information on My Brother’s Country: http://bit.ly/17jbxlB