Tonight marks the World Premiere of Libyan Street Theatre by The National Theatre of Tripoli and Periplum. Here’s an inside look from our Associate Producer Nathan Curry:
Over the past year I have visited Libya 6 times and created with my Libyan
colleagues (by all accounts) the first ever piece of Libyan Street Theatre. The project was a partnership between the British Council and the National Theatre of Tripoli and we performed the piece ‘A Family Picnic’ in a public park in March this year. It was an incredible experience.
Little theatre has been happening in Libya in recent years. The former regime didn’t support the art form and the act of going to theatre buildings to watch a play is a completely foreign idea to most people in the country. Since the revolution, as the Libyan people attempt to work out their new identity and cope with continual disruptions to daily life, it has understandably not been a priority to create a theatrical landscape or even a theatre performance. The hugemajority of Libyans have little idea what the theatre is or could be- a whole generation has not experienced it. Therefore the creation of a street theatre performance, that took the theatre out to the people in their local spaces, was a vital and timely development. It worked really well and we were all thrilled with the response.
Working with Libyan actors, designers and musicians we created the story of a family get together to celebrate the 18th birthday of the youngest son. Entirely in Arabic with local music and recognisable family dynamics the piece arrived in a Tripoli park one sunny afternoon and unpacked its tale. A relatively simple story was hugely enjoyed and understood by crowds that we struggled to keep off the ‘stage’. It was a humbling experience to see the hunger and desire for storytelling and a community experience. There is no formal theatre training in Libya and very little opportunity to act or create work. The opportunity afforded to us by the European Development Fund and the British Council to both make a show in Libya and also a residency at GDIF will have huge impact on theatre practice for the Libyan artists.