Off to The Oval House this evening to see Stef's work on Sarajevo Marlboro' that she's been quietly work shopping, adapting and bringing to the boil with the Youth Arts company there.
I was strangely nervous about it - after all my own Sarajevo research has been a bit on the back burner since February and the first draft of the verbatim play I put together at that time lies buried deep in my computer. I needn't have worried about Stef however, she did a marvellous job tackling both her company and the material with real honesty - interspersing the stories with scenes where the actors comment openly on their own difficulties with the history, the politics, the accent and their approach towards a world that seems so far away from their own experience. This device immediately excused any need for authenticity or re-enactment and allowed the actors the chance to tackle the work without apology on their own terms. It was all played out in the big empty space of the main house with Joe Sacco inspired cartoons adorning the walls.
At their strongest the company simply told stories with delicate care and weight. Allowing each one space to breathe. There were astonishingly sensitive moments. They were less solid when they tried to over complicate or layer the language and poignancy with performance tricks and expressive movement.
Still it was lovely to be back in touch with Sarajevo and watching this brave attempt to make sense of Bosnia with young actors from South London, certainly gives me a kick up the bum. It's time to pull up the play and at least let Stef read it.