6-16 August 2009

Program | Workshops | Invited Artists

As an actress my first thought on periphery concerns the relationship between my centre – the heart of the action in my torso – and the detailed precision of the extremities – my hands, feet and eyes – that tell the anecdote and make the action believable. As an actress my main concern is the power concentrated in my centre. So I am confused. Why chose to work on the periphery? Why is being on the periphery so important to many of us women theatre practitioners?

We chose to work on the periphery, both geographically (in places distant from the main cities, in countries at the extremity of the world, in neighbourhoods at the edge of the towns) and as genre (theatre that confines with film, music, nature, visual art, writing…). The choice of the periphery comes as a consequence of where we place our performances, why we make theatre and with whom, as a need to emigrate and travel.

When the Magdalena Project lost its physical centre – the office in Cardiff and its revenue funding – the activities mushroomed in events all over the world and the network maintained its connection internationally through the website and The Open Page journal. The Magdalena Project became a tangled bond of peripheries, and each of these peripheries was at the centre of our professional and personal lives.

In a global world, in which it is becoming more and more difficult to remain enclosed within the boundaries of a national and traditional culture, where is the centre and what is the periphery? Each periphery exists only in relation to its centre as each centre to its periphery. Women in theatre are our centre, like the poor in opposition to rich, mad in opposition to normal, black or yellow or red in opposition to white, young or old people in opposition to middle-aged could be. We make the periphery our centre because we do not accept the world as it is, with its injustice and segregation, its mainstream thinking and order. We make work on the periphery because we are not satisfied with the theatre we know from before. We chose periphery as the place where small essential human values are cherished.

Women working in theatre are definitively on the periphery of those deciding for the world, but although we know our influence is nearly inexistent we still feel the enormous responsibility of sharing our knowledge which unites body and mind, torso and hands, feelings and actions to promote a different way of perceiving and thinking.

Remembering how the Magdalena Project acquired more life and dynamism after losing its physical centre, I understand that the actress’s principle I should refer to when thinking of periphery is another: going out of balance and transforming weight into energy. Abandoning the centre is a way of taking a risk, of accepting the challenge, of needing to move away from an inert centre that no longer feeds us and gives a false feeling of security. Being on the periphery is to explore unknown places with the necessity of making something happen.

The heart of the action, our centre, becomes our profession, and how we manifest it, our periphery. The 6th Transit Festival will gather examples of ‘peripheral’ manifestations inviting performances and women who are geographically and artistically placed at the borders. The programme includes workshops, site specific events, performances, lectures, master-classes and work demonstrations.

Julia Varley