Open Arena is a creative research platform exploring the life of  Romanian community in UK  by collecting  personal narratives and  looking at how Romanian contemporary culture and identity might have been affected and shaken by the visible/invisible traces of the communist oppression. By means of interactive theatre experiences and site-responsive performances, we will be gathering and archiving individual narratives of Romanian exile in Britain.

The work is driven by a creative endeavour to challenge the Romanian identity discourse and to reflect upon the cultural representation of post-communist Romania in Europe, unfolding the authentic stories of the Romanian expats. By extracting personal narratives of the “living in between” , of the forced exile or the chosen exile,  and memories of communism aims at generating a collection of stories that could lead to a deeper understanding of Romanian cultural paradigms and to the commemoration of the hidden history of Romanian endeavours for democracy.

The Rationale

“Political or social conditions prevent particular experiences from being narrated. The natural response to outrage is to chase away its memory from awareness. Survivors of political torture, war, genocide and other atrocities silence themselves and are silenced because it is too difficult to tell and to listen.”
Catherine Kholer Reissman

How are we going to do it

Starting by accessing the amazing Ion Ratiu archive, to which we gained access through the generosity of Nicolae Ratiu and the Ratiu Family Foundation, we will be interviewing Romanians who experienced exile in Britain during the communism.  Also,  Romanians who came in UK before they could officially claim their European background as members of EU and Romanians who came with full EU member status will be approached and their stories collected.  The narratives will be presented to the audience under different formats – from immersive theatre experiences to forum theatre or testimonial performances.  The audience will be called to interact and respond to the stories we are presenting, to develop them with their own memories and to generate new contents enriched by the collective memories.

Our Promise

We might discover terrifying or luminous stories. But our passion to learn about the past and the hidden or untold histories is a powerful drive. Surely, we are embarking for an inspiring  journey without an end, full of significant findings and enriching experiences. And you are kindly invited to join us, to create, to engage and to take from the experience as much as you like.

Why we want to do it

We wish to celebrate Romanian presence in UK and to creatively reflect upon our identity and culture in the past 25 years. Our audience will experience creative means to claim personal histories and their voice will be heard and represented within a multicultural environment. Participants will be empowered to articulate their memories and engage into an artistic discourse about Romanian identity, memory and culture.

And, what is so important for us, we want everyone to get to know Romanians a little better.

Immersive Theatre founded by theatre artist and researcher Anca Doczi and theatre director Cristian Luchian, in collaboration with other artists are conducting a fascinating research project with the Romanian diasporic community in London. This creative initiative is hugely impressive as it is the first time the individual narratives of Romanians in exile in Britain (especially of the forced exile from the communist era) will be heard. This interactive theatre project is the first of its kind and it is a very important piece of work .The initiative will need sustained support from the Romanian community in London and other stakeholders to deliver a project of this scale. I know that Romanians living in London will feel empowered by this project and I look forward to the planned events that will present the narratives that have come from this excellent and robust theatre research.

Kristine Landon-SmithArtistic Director, Tamasha Theatre Company
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