Words as a vehicle for the inaudible and invisible
We caught up with the protagonists of our Young Europe project, mentor Ruth Borg and co-writers Alex Weenink and Kurt Gabriel Meli to get a better feel of their experience in Prague and where they intend to take thus project ahead of producing it in 2023.
With Young Europe 4, the ETC are setting their sights on exposing the non-dominant voices in our societies and voicing stories that haven’t yet been told. These specific stories will be told through highlighting “forgotten” plays and by writing new ones to be staged in classrooms: where emerging playwrights from minority groups in the European theatre canon, from some 8 different countries will write 8 new plays for young audiences, between the ages of 12 and 25 after which each play will be staged by one of the member theatres in classrooms.
Here is what they had to say:
Ruth Borg: Mentor
‘’Mentoring this project for me has been a step towards text-theatre again which for the past 5 years or so has been dormant in my life.
My desire to step out from that world for some time came from a claustrophobic sensation that the written word in theatrical creations
is sometimes prioritised too much for my liking.
I was seduced into this project and to flirt with words and text again because of the theme: non-dominant voices.
It has been beautiful to remember that words can be a vehicle so we may find a name for that which is not so easily heard or visible.
In persisting with giving a name to something that is not so easily spoken about we give it a place in our consciousness.
I am incredibly grateful to be working with Kurt and Alex who have a penchant for words and can do this exceptionally.
On our journey in Prague it was inspiring to be around them both during workshop hours as well as recreationally.
Alex is more inclined towards expressing himself in English and Kurt more in Maltese although they both use,
as many of us do, both languages at the same time!
It is deeply touching and often hilarious to see them discuss fiercely about the Maltese and English language.
There is an immense desire that these two languages stop being made to compete against each other and that people
stop being made fun of just because they prefer to express themselves with one language instead of the other.
They revel in how they can be equally beautiful.
It is a joy to witness them speak about this.
Back to the workshops in in Prague, we were there often reminded about the theme of non-dominant voices in our society.
It was lovely being there, meeting people from other countries and looking at their views and perspectives.
I could not help but ask the group at a point to reflect on the question: how did we end up here, in this room?
We were all quite privileged people and it seemed to me that most of us, to some degree, had a dominant voice.
I wondered how we could design calls, invitations and openings that can penetrate the usual circles of people who end up doing this work.
With this in mind, I am very much looking forward with Kurt and Alex to see how we can create a process which allows us to honestly listen to the non-dominant voices we will choose to listen to. We already underway with this, concocting ideas!
I am curious were all this will go in the end and so thankful to be a part of a lovely group.’’
Kurt Meli: Co-Witer
‘’As a playwright, my role in Young Europe IV is to develop a classroom play alongside Alex Weenink, under the mentorship of Ruth Borg and Dounia Mahammed. In the lead-up to our workshop in Prague, Alex and myself prepared by compiling visual moodboards, gathering poems and songs, and writing three letters focusing on regret, bravery and desire (alongside our own physical workshop in Malta led by Ruth, to get the creative juices flowing). Following the workshop in Prague, and bearing in mind the ample material we’ve created so far, our approach moving forward shall be more “intuitive”. Rather than creating characters and basing a story around them, we will instead come up with different writing prompts, inspired by the questions we’d like to address, to experiment with new material in different forms (dialogues, monologues, descriptions, poems, etc.). After this, our plan is to connect all our material together as cohesively as possible and derive potential performance structures and narrative devices. Given that this will be my first time experimenting with this approach to playwriting, I’m very eager to see where this journey takes us, and what content we’ll be able to devise!’’
Alex Weenink: Co-Writer
‘’So far, the Young Europe IV experience has been, for me, an invitation to (re)discover my value both professionally, and artistically. I have (re)discovered what I can offer as a theatre-maker, what forms and styles my art can exist in, and how I can employ different and unexpected artistic processes. It has been an opportunity to break habits. Likewise, it has been an exciting opportunity to investigate and deepen my collaboration with Kurt. We both consider ourselves writers, but what happens when we combat the traditional notion of the solitary playwright? What are the lines between writer and dramaturg, wordsmith and mover, editor and actor? How do we navigate between them? Do they exist at all? Once again, this project has been an invitation to challenge our established methods and affinities, and our art has become all the richer for it. Ruth, our mentor in many senses of the word, has been central to that newfound richness; guiding us and our process warmly and sensitively. Our week in Prague with the European Theatre Convention, too, offered us the tools, perspectives, space, time, and environment to intensely focus on this project and this project alone (a luxury all too rare nowadays). It was a week filled with valuable workshops and seminars, soul-nourishing conversations and discussions with artists from all over Europe, inspiring performances and panoramic views, and the right headspace to absorb it so as to embolden the play we are crafting.’’
Teatru Malta’s work on this class-room project kicked-off this Spring, whereby meetings were organised between mentor Ruth Borg, and mentees and writers Alex Weenink and Kurt Gabriel Meli, to begin to develop the work in question with the intention of all partners from all participating theatre companies coming together again during this joint festival in 2024.
For more information on Young Europe please follow these pages to keep up with all the latest updates on what Ruth, Alex and Kurt are up to.