At Home in Gaza and London

Station House Opera

At Home in Gaza and London residency, January 2016

At Home in Gaza and London creates a mutual performance space for participants in two locations separated by great political, economic and physical divides. Using live video-streaming and other technologies,
the artists occupy each other's homes, streets and other social spaces. Sharing their everyday behaviour and concerns, they dissolve into each other or become ghostly protagonists in the drama. Using contemporary mobile technologies we are able to connect one of the most inaccessible places on earth live with an international audience.

Focused primarily on the situation of the people of Gaza and their relation to the inaccessible outside world, the piece explores what it means to produce a piece of theatre that is relevant and challenging in two different cultures: the traditional Arabic story-telling tradition of Gaza and the contemporary Western theatre.

At Home in Gaza and London opens a new way for artists to engage with each other in different places across the world, allowing audiences to participate, while eliciting a direct and personal response to the problems of Gaza and its isolation. 

The project explores the survival tactics, creative impulses and coping mechanisms that sustain those living in Gaza, while at the same time celebrating a temporary release via the technological innovation of a working space, a playing space, without borders. 

The team

Julian Maynard Smith is the artistic director of Station House Opera with whom he pioneered the use of real-time video streaming to link performance spaces in theatre productions in the early 2000s. From 2009-14 he held a fellowship at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, developing the technology and dramaturgy of Telematic Theatre during which he produced Nowhere (2010-13), The Doors (2014) and The Apartment (2015). In 2014, Station House Opera produced Dissolved, linking the Sophiensaele theatre in Berlin with Beaconsfield Arts in London.

Taghrid Choucair-Vizoso is co-director of At Home in Gaza and London. She is also a performer with a practice in contemporary work in or about the Middle East - particularly Lebanon and Palestine. She creates and performs work within the context of cultural resistance and facilitates workshops with refugees. She has been participating in Station House Opera events since meeting Julian Maynard Smith in 2010.

Yasmeen Elkhoudary is project assistant director and translator.  She is a researcher in Gaza’s history and archaeology and an associate fellow in the Centre for Palestine Studies - SOAS. She is currently writing a book about Gaza during the British Mandate to mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration as a Palestinian based in London. She publishes a blog at yelkhoudary.blogspot.com

Project co-ordinator in Gaza: Bessan Salam

Project technical director:  Matt Wasser

Technical director in Gaza:  Hani Mortaja

Technical assistant in Gaza:  Mahmoud el Madhoun

Participants in Gaza:  Aya Abdelrahman, Abeer Ahmed, Ali Hassany, Mariam Nasser, Hamza Saftawy and Walid Tafesh

Participants in London:  Zoe Aiano, Tara Fatehi Irani, Yoko Ishiguro, Jenny Matthews, Iante Roach and Owl Young

Produced by Ania Obolewicz for Artsadmin

With special thanks to Gaza Sky Geeks for their logistical support.