Open Arena Launching Talk

It is said that if you want to see a tall building you have to take a proper distance from it. This is what happened to me.  While living in Romania and having been trained as a theatre artist, I acted for social change with the help of Forum Theatre. Forum Theatre is an applied drama technique that helps people act against oppression and social shortcomings by taking distance to understand the source of oppression and by finding means to act against it.

But what happens when the the source of oppression was annihilated?  And what happens further with the victims of oppression? How will they be able to come it terms with their new state and deal with their new identity? I learned there is a gap between the actions of people who lived in a state of oppression and those of people who were free to take their own decisions.

By coming to UK and engaging in a Phd research in theatre and cultural studies, I tried to take visual distance from my country in order to understand better the “action” gap between Romania and the West. I met Romanians who left the country and took action against the negative issues in our country. We are here today in the home of one of the most active Romanian fighter for democracy, Ion Ratiu. I also met and interviewed people who came here to act against the shortcomings of our political system.

As theatre artists, I and theatre director and visual artist Cristian Luchian wondered what we could do to celebrate those Romanian models of action. Therefore, trough Immersive Theatre company, we started the “Open Arena “ creative research platform aiming to explore the life of our community in UK by creative collaboration and open dialog. Therefore we invite you all, those of you who were forced to take distance or who chose to take distance from the country, to share your memories of the “golden era”, to testify and tell the world who we are. As testimony is the first condition for “action”, we named our project “Open Arena – Theatre of Testimonies”.

Open Arena is a work in progress project. On our website you will see our next events and activities and we hope you will be able to join us and help us share our community’s stories. Through performances of the kind you have seen today, we aim at learning and sharing the experiences of Romanians.
I particularly want to invite those of you who feel the need to bring your contribution by sharing your memories and testimonies of our past, and want to get involved in spreading the word about us Romanians. Also I invite you to join the Forum Theatre workshop starting with 26 of March and finalizing on 6th of April at Rich Mix with a forum discussion with the audience. We will explore some of the traces left within our education by the shadows of communism and try to find solutions for improvement. Forum Theatre is a theatrical tool designed to offer the audience the possibility of acting out solutions and debating on the subject presented to them.
While in traditional theatre the artistic content is created by an individual author, Immersive Theatre’s practices reunite multiple testimonies as a source for performance and the audience is part of the authorship process.

Anca Doczi
Open Arena, Project manager