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CARTHAGE By Caridad Svich/ SDC's New International Collaboration GRAZ EDITION / 4 October 2013

Francesca Osimani SDCI Performing during performance in Ligist amongst hundreds of fallen trees

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After  Signdance Collective's second USA tour in 2013. to the West Coast......

The company reunited in Austria and met with director Beatriz Cabur to work on ‘Carthage’ new play written by playwright Caridad Svich.

First things First. We made the space we were to work in for the next four days ready.

Earth, gravel, dust

Sitting above the ‘Fish & Gigs’ restaurant in Ligist, is a large abandoned room, remnants of gym equipment scattered everywhere: benches, springboard, hurdles, balance beams, sets of skis too!

Many ventured a swing on the still rings, hanging from its high ceiling.

The room was in dire need of some TLC. We swept, scrubbed (not quite polished), and moved furniture around, relocated spiders to wilder surroundings. The layers of dust and cobwebs giving way to the true colour of the beautiful - albeit a little squeaky - wooden floors.    

‘Carthage’ is a powerful play, dealing with notion of home, the loss of ones home, oppression, rebuilding, hope, language.

What better way to prepare ourselves to tackle such themes then tackling, transforming and creating an environment for us to rehearse in! 

Rain, Leafs, Insects

Rehearsals were intense. A play like ‘Carthage’ demands attention from its audience, our responsibility was to make sure this happens. We would perform the outcome of the weeks residency, ideally brimming with potential for future development, in two different venues. Everyone was aware of the short working timescale the company and fellow collaborators had to create a totally new piece of work. Working together the piece began to take shape.

Across from our rehearsal room was a field in which two piles of wooded logs stocked high sat parallel to each other, the space between would be one of our said venues.

When it came to rehearsing there, surrounded by the logs, the choreography truly came alive. As rain clouds gathered, we looked, reached, out to the sky above. We fell, shuffling, gravel pressing on to our palms and knees. Wet leafs sticking to elbows and hair. At the mercy of the elements we could not have wished for a more incredible backdrop for the play. This was turning into something special.                   

Wind, Sun, Clouds

The first venue was the Schlossberg overlooking a beautiful sunny Graz.

The piece lends itself well to a number of locations. Spacing was adapted to make the most of the clock tower square which was not quite as rural as the log piled field. A lot less slugs were encountered!

 Dead Days Beyond Help collaborated with Graz based Henry H (Thomas Ulrych & Angelina Schwammerlin) crafting the live music through the piece.

As the sound installation created by Angelina started, we took our cue to begin. Scattered at the borders of the square, the performers slowly made their way inwards. Individuals leaving their country, looking for a new home, drawn together…

Exhilarated by the first outing we prepared for the next and it did not disappoint.

The intensity increased and it strongly affected viewers. In their eyes even the logs took on a new meaning, new shapes of guns and cannons aiming at the characters. Macabre post-battle images of dead bodies piled high. The play truly struck something within them.

Phew! Definitely not a fluffy piece, but it deals with subjects which are important to speak of. Look forward to the next stage of development.