Accepted paper:

Staging disability and love: reflections on a collaborative theatre and visual anthropology project

Authors:

Slobodan Naumovic (University of Belgrade)
Marica Vuletić-Naumović (Academy of Arts)

Paper short abstract:

In the paper, we engage in a gentle parody of the SWAT approach to discuss insights gained and problems encountered during work on a hybrid project incorporating visual anthropology, theatre directing and theatre therapy, disability studies, ngo activism and public television.

Paper long abstract:

In the paper, we discuss insights gained during a hybrid project incorporating visual anthropology, theatre directing, disability studies, ngo activism and public television. From 2008 Slobodan recorded various activities initiated by the theatre section of a Belgrade based NGO (Ziveti zajedno-Living together) for persons with disabilities, at the centre of which was an experimental project teaming up actors with disabilities, professional actors, a child actor, a theatre director and theatre movement professor (Marica), a disability practician (Leposava Stankovic) and a theatre play writer (Zlatko Grusanovic). The team prepared a play based on Shapespeare's Romeo and Juliet specifically adapted to the general social situation, and position of persons with disabilities in particular, in contemporary Serbia. The project resulted in a play that was staged in leading Belgrade theatres, and grew into a television reportage on the preparation of the play wired on national TV (RTS) in 2011. While the strengths of such a collaborative project might seem obvious, we were bedeviled by some anticipated, and a host of unanticipated problems. Problems had to do with contradictions between the team members' multiple roles and anticipations: social activism was at times corrosive to artistic idealism; anthropological insights entered into collision with a thickening fog of political correctness in the public; expectations concerning social inclusion were at times undermined by our collective insistence on the integrity of life experiences of Others with disabilities; finally, TV publicity perceived as favoring some more than others partly backfired, creating tensions among activists from the NGO.

panel P111
Collaboration in visual work: with whom, how, what for? (VANEASA)