PROJECT DESCRIPTION: After a period of research/development, (funded by Arts Council of England 2009) ‘Facts on the Ground’ was produced by Live Theatre, Newcastle upon Tyne. This unique project is part of a continuing exploration of verbatim/documentary theatre as a form and follows directly on from the creation of ‘Motherland’. A piece of Documentary theatre, ‘Facts on the Ground’ combines pure verbatim with edited testimony and fictional writing based on stories and events from the West Bank region of Palestine. A series of interviews were carried out in Israel and the West Bank with those whose lives have been impacted by the construction of the Israeli security fence and the land confiscations, in particular those involved in the cultivation of the olive tree and associated products. The testimony provides insight into the daily lives of a community, breaking down stereotyped notions of ‘Arab’ society and offering a series of sad and moving stories from quite ‘ordinary’ individuals. Collaborators’ contributions were: Steve Gilroy: writer and director, Richard Dawson: composer, Gez Casey: dramaturg, Kate Craddock, Ellie Clarke, William El Gardi, Simon Trinder, Jane Arnfield, Reza Kianpoor, Nitin Kundra: performers \ud \ud RESEARCH QUESTIONS: 1 To explore the historical, social and cultural significance of the olive and its production as a lens through which to identify some of the key issues at the heart of arguments over territory, resources and statehood across the Middle East region. 2 To what extent does a process which combines the imagined and poetic with verbatim testimony undermine the authenticity associated with the genre of verbatim theatre? 3 Or, conversely does the juxta-positioning of these different forms create something akin to a ‘surrealist jolt’ questioning the assumption that ‘Verbatim theatre’ is inherently authentic and therefore more truthful?\ud \ud DISSEMINATION AND ESTEEM: The project was produced as part of the International New Writing Festival (Different Stages) at Live Theatre (a theatre with a national and international reputation as a leading producing house). The performance received a four star review
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