Testimony in Practice: Working with Stories of the Self and Others is an innovative and collaborative project which collects and performs testimonies of life in a divided Europe. In 2019, Europeans commemorated the end of division and the triumph of liberal democracy over communism. Yet these anniversaries came at a time of turbulence for a continent that seems ever more divided and in the grips of a rising movement against (neo)liberalism and capitalism from both left and right.
Testimony in Practice promotes greater exchange and collaboration between researchers and artists in different fields around the ethics and methods of using testimony. At the same time it aims to increase public understanding of the life experiences of Central and Eastern Europeans living in the UK. In this way, we hope to foster greater community cohesion and a sense of social recognition. The activities fall into two strands, Creative and Social. The strands are linked by an innovative and collaborative theatre production with the title A Land Full of Heroes. In this play, the documentary theatre company La Conquesta del Pol Sud stage the life and literature of Carmen-Francesca Banciu, a Romanian and German dissident author. Carmen-Francesca is on stage, performing her story to a live audience
The Creative Strand
The Creative Strand fosters greater reflection on the ethics and methods of using testimony and collaboration between different artistic forms. We explore how working with testimony between different media (theatre, art, literature) promotes creative reflexivity around issues of fiction, authenticity, appropriation and performance. This strand is divided into five parts:
- Performance of A Land Full of Heroes in Birmingham (July 2019)
- Workshop for theatre practitioners in Birmingham (July 2019) with La Conquesta del Pol Sud and Phil Holyman of the Little Earthquake theatre company
- “Making Of” film (Oct. 2019) and practitioner guide (May 2020)
- Two creative writing workshops with Carmen-Francesca Banciu and award-winning non-fiction author Emilie Pine in the Library of Birmingham (Sept. 2019) and the Romanian Cultural Institute (ICR) in London (Nov. 2019)
- Publication of a reflective article about the project authored by Sara Jones and Emilie Pine.
The Social Strand
The Social Strand promotes greater public understanding of the history of communism in Central and Eastern Europe, the revolutions of 1989 and the relationship between this part of Europe’s past and contemporary politics. It provides opportunities for Central and Eastern Europeans to voice their life experiences and to have these recognised and heard by diverse audiences. The strand is divided into three parts:
- Testimonies campaign designed to gather the life stories of Central and Eastern Europeans living in the UK (March-July 2019)
- An intermedial and interactive exhibition of the testimonies combining installation and sound art, displayed at the Birmingham-based Central and Eastern European Arts Space, Centrala (Sept.-Oct. 2019) and the ICR (Nov. 2019)
- Two Youth Artists workshops in Centrala (Sept. 2019) and the ICR (Nov. 2019).
- Professor Hank Greenspan (University of Michigan)
- Professor Éva Kovács (Vienna Wiesenthal Insititute)
- Professor Doris Sommer (Director of the Harvard Cultural Agents Initiative)
- Atxarte Lpz. de Munain (BE Festival producer)
- Alicja Kaczmarek (Director, PEA/Centrala)
This project is funded by The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).
The AHRC funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects: history, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, languages, design, heritage, area studies, the creative and performing arts, and much more. This financial year the AHRC will spend approximately £98 million to fund research and postgraduate training, in collaboration with a number of partners. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits and contributes to the economic success of the UK but also to the culture and welfare of societies around the globe.
Address: Ashley Buiding, Edgbaston, Birmingham, UK, B15 2TT