Performing the World is an international gathering to explore and celebrate performance as a catalyst for human and community development and culture change, and thereby, to create a new and more humane world (www.performingtheworld.org). It is organized by the East Side Institute and the All Stars Project.
I feel ambivalent about conferences and the environments we are creating during them. I have experienced conferences as commodified and competitive, like short advertisements of methodologies fighting against each other to get a place in your plate. Abstraction and knowing downloaded than created with. And yet we create conferences, participating in them we are creating them. I have been learning that from the activity of PTW.
I firstly came to PTW in 2014. The first PTW took place in 2001, since then it has been happening every two years.
I was struck by the playfulness of PTW, the pulsating sense of creating continuously together the conference. Talking, exchanging, trying out, questioning and creating together new meanings.
In September 2016 PTW brought around 400 performance activists from 32 countries together at the All Stars headquarters in NYC to share their work, learn from each other and build global relationships. The how of that conference, the relationships built and developed impacted the re-discovering of Play is Hope.
I was invited to host a conference panel, bringing together diverse voices working with refugees across Europe. It was a few weeks I was working on the ground. The creating of the panel organized my work in connecting with other and being curious about them. The process of organizing for PTW became the content of my work.
We created together ‘Creating new performances with the refugee crisis’ with Masa and Nina from Serbia, Sheryl from New York and Sarah from Syria. Masa and Nina presented their work with children in refugee camps in Serbia. Sheryl and Sarah their work with She is Syria. I shared our work in Greece. And we talked together with each other and the audience. So much I discovered while doing it. More questions than answers.
How to talk about people going through so much trauma in a way that keeps us close to each other? Who decided that my co-organizers from Pakistan and Syria could not be with us on that day? How we could still perform the world together? What it means to share work that is being created in that moment in a rapidly changing historical reality?
PTW impacted on me and us into creating a continuous life activity of connecting across borders even when we don’t know how, especially then.