'International cultural exchange is impossible - therefore we must try,' asserts Japanese director Tadashi Suzuki. Artistic Director of Riotous Company, Mia Theil Have, is exploring the boundaries of this necessary impossibility in the Riotous rehearsal room. As producer of Out of Blixen, Have has assembled an international team of artists from Cyprus, Denmark, England, France, Greece, Italy, Japan, Macedonia, Nigeria, Portugal, Russia and the USA to whom intercontinental collaboration is inherent in the theatrical process.
Several company members have worked with Ecole Jacques Lecoq in France, Odin Teatret in Denmark or Peter Brook’s International Centre for Theatre Research in Paris. These theatre centres describe themselves, respectively, as an ‘international laboratory’ pursuing ‘international collaboration’ and ‘multicultural theatrical research.’ Global diversity is a principal priority deep-rooted in the Riotous community, harvesting the benefits of the seeds sown at these world theatre pillars.
Many of Riotous Company’s established theatre artists have also been touring their work globally for decades. Whether performing or leading workshops, collectively they have reached scores of countries on six continents. Perhaps they could have worked solely in London, being a hub for theatre makers from all over the world, but they felt compelled to travel beyond their comfort zones and experience new perspectives that theatre provides around the globe.
There are political, social, cultural and artistic advantages that emerge from multicultural exchanges within a theatre community. Lecoq’s school is described by theatre scholar Simon Murray as, ‘a crucible where different cultures could play together to establish their differences and their commonalities in a shared making of theatre.’ Tadashi Suzuki and Anne Bogart uphold a similar mission with their SITI Company in New York. Bogart thusly illustrates, ‘The impossibility of seeing beyond one's own cultural context is a political act in the world and has the potential to break down the rigid assumptions surrounding us.’
Throughout Out of Blixen rehearsals, the Riotous cast and creatives are expanding horizons and breaking cultural borders. The vivid narratives of Karen Blixen are enhanced by the beautiful array of accents and, at times, brought to effervescent life in various languages. The gregarious and well-traveled artists are constantly discovering richer perspectives and arriving at deeper insights as they question one another and share in the adventures of Blixen. Karen Blixen, herself a cosmopolitan traveler, wrote stories set in many different countries with characters from all over the globe. It is only natural that a worldly Riotous Company would be well-suited to bring her stories to life.