What We Mean When We Say ‘UNIVERSALITY’ in Theatre
When Katherine and I started talking about a theatre company, we tried to define for ourselves the kind of theatre that we enjoy watching. We both share a love for comedy and puppetry, as well as for plays that made us leave our jaded adult selves outside the theatre, and for the duration of the show connect to our inner child, and watch in awe and wonder.
When we came to actually create ‘Bee in My Beanie’, once the questions of howand whenwere lifted off the table, we went back to the question of what. What kind of theatre we were trying to create? We decided that we would like to replicate that child-like awe in our audiences, and furthermore, to create a theatre that different people from diverse backgrounds could relate to, and perhaps come together through.
I think this joint desire we had stemmed from our own diverse background, being third culture kids. By which I mean, we both grew up in a culture other to our parent’s culture, and moved around from country to country from a young age. Being exposed to so many cultures, and finding it difficult at times to become part of a culture that is different to our own, we both recognized the power of theatre. The power of storytelling and laughter to bridge some of those gaps and differences.
My own pursuit after theatrical expression that could bridge cultural difference comes from my specific upbringing. Having grown up in Israel, a country so important for different cultures, and at the same time so plagued by conflict and prejudice, I’ve always been interested in finding platforms through which these differences can be, perhaps not solved, but addressed and bridged. I will not give my own personal opinion on the things that are happening in Israel at the moment. But I will say this, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, in my view, is perpetuated (amongst other things) by a lack of communication. Where each side has a narrative so strong, and so different to the other side. These narratives make up each side’s understanding of itself and its rights, to the point where a common language is hard to find. Therefore, finding forms of communication and expression that transcend language is of the utmost importance, if not in the solving of the conflict then in the sharing of experiences between the two cultures.
When I was in middle school, I was fortunate enough to take part in a theatre program that brought together Israeli and Palestinian students for a week of theatre creation. I will never forget how uncomfortable the first meeting was, and how incredibly rewarding and inspiring the final meeting was, where we came together through music and movement, putting aside those things that made us different and joining in our common love of theatre.
And that is what we mean when we say that we’re interested in creating stories with a ‘universality to them’. Creating a form of expression, which transcends language and through which experiences can be shared across cultures. That is not to say that we assume that there could ever be any experience or story truly universal, nor are we trying to force one point of view that is claimed to be shared by all. Rather we want to highlight and draw on a common human need to connect to other humans, to tell stories, to laugh and to sway to music. The shows that we will be creating through Bee in My Beanie will strive to bring out that child-like wonder in our audiences, using laughter, movement, puppetry and visual/visceral story-telling.