Theatre Ad Infinitum on devising new theatre with Salford University.

Theatre Ad Infinitum are one of The Lowry’s Associate Artists. This week they will present their award-winning one man show ‘Odyssey,’ alongside a new work ‘Run,’ devised with University of Salford students. Run/Odyssey will be performed in The Studio at The Lowry on Wed 20 Jan, 8pm.

Nir Paldi, Co-Director of Theatre Ad Infinitum, talks us through the research and creative process of making ‘Run’ with University of Salford Students.

Theatre Ad with Salford Students
Run is the result of 20 days of research and development held with students from the University of Salford.  We wanted to make a piece looking at the current refugee crisis – millions and millions of people escaping their homes due to war in Africa and the Middle East. We wanted to look at the personal stories of the individuals behind the situation. What was it that made them leave? What were their lives like before the war? Did they manage to get where they wanted to get to? Were they accepted in the places they got to?

As we began making the work, we started looking at the media and became interested in the tone of public debate in the UK about refugees – my feeling is that the discussion is getting more and more extreme, dark and full of anxiety and hatred. On screen communication can be so thoughtless. People say whatever comes to mind without much consideration of what it causes on the receiving end or what colour it adds to the world we live in. Words have power. If you use words in the wrong way they can lead to horrible things. People like Katie Hopkins, calling themselves ‘provocateurs’ while actually simply spitting-out the most divisive and hate-inciting piles of garbage day in and day out. We decided to include a couple of these speeches in the piece and juxtapose them with the personal stories of refugees. We believe that hearing these people’s personal circumstances and what brought them to leave their country presented next to these speeches could bring out their troublesome aspect.

In one research session we talked about what people say on social media. An endless stream of hateful examples washed the room. I asked the students to take screen shots of their Facebook and Twitter streams. Comments such as ‘We should kill them there before they come to kill us here’ and ‘behead them just as they are planning to do to us’ are commonplace and can be found in abundance. We decided to stage the social media streams as we found them on the screenshots. We hope that placing them next to the personal stories of refugees would provoke thought.

Part of Theatre Ad Infinitum’s mission is finding innovative ways to examine political themes. Our productions deal with a whole array of controversial issues; government surveillance, the Israel / Palestine conflict, social mobility and other themes we feel should be discussed and looked at in a way that acknowledges their complexity. Therefore, finding an approach to stage the terrible exodus that is taking place in front of our eyes felt necessary.

I find it moving that we will be presenting RUN alongside my company’s version of the ancient Greek myth ‘The Odyssey’. Eight years ago we reinvented Homer’s timeless Greek myth. Using one actor. In only one hour. We tell Odysseus’ epic quest to reunite with his family and seek his bloody revenge. Our Odyssey is a passionate, highly physical, and poignant style of storytelling that brings this breathtaking adventure to life.

Just like Odysseus, many of the refugees are currently on a massive Odyssey of their own with no end in sight. Like him, they don’t know if they’ll ever make it back home and what they’ll find there if they’ll ever do.

Written by Nir Paldi. Co-Director, Theatre Ad Infinitum.

Run/Odyssey will be performed in The Studio at The Lowry on Wed 20 Jan, 8pm. For info & tickets click here.