Are we where we are

A two-year theatre project inspired by American essayist Henry David Thoreau’s book ‘Walden: A Life In The Woods’.

Thoreau took himself away from the industrialising world of 19th century America to take time to reflect amongst natural surroundings. It was in many ways a meditation on the consumerist and materialist obsessions of Western society at that time. In the book, Thoreau writes at one point: “We are not where we are, but in a false position”. Around 130 years later, Thoreau’s provocation is quoted by a character in Paul Auster’s 1983 novella ‘Ghosts’, as one man searches for meaning in a life that seems to have stalled and begun to fall apart. These two instances of the same quote became a stimulus for us here at Theatre Absolute, as we began to grapple with the notion that, here in the 21st century, we are arguably not where we are, but in fact, somewhere else. It felt apt as the advanced societies we have created spin in seemingly daily chaos. It felt apt when, here, today, one considers the qualities and complexities of justice, equality, race, citizenship, nationhood, isolation, inclusion, the list goes on.

With these ideas in mind, we created a collaborative response because Theatre Absolute was unable to address such a provocation alone. It became a multi commission critical mass of work, under the umbrella title of Are We Where We Are, that resulted in 15 new pieces for performance, that were shown at the Shop Front Theatre. The commissions were a mixture of works in regard of form, some were full length plays, some short form monologues delivered script in hand, some physical. The artists we commissioned were writers who hadn’t performed before, performers who hadn’t written before, or some who were neither. We also worked in collaboration with Coventry University, inviting 54 third year Theatre and Professional practice students to create their own response too.

Are We Where We Are:

May Utang, written by Jules Orcullo, May 2017
I Am Here, written by Laila Alj, June 2017
Where I Live and What I Live For, written by Rabiah Hussain, October 2017
We Think, We Care, We Show, written by students at Coventry University, November 2017
Under The Carpet, written by Sarah Woods, November 2017
Yellowstone, written by Chris Thorpe, January 2018
Choke, written by Chris O’Connell, February 2018
The Things We Tell Ourselves, written by Cristina Catalina, November 2018
Don’t Cry For Me, written by Stephanie Ridings, November 2018
Sphere, written by Ola Animashawun, Amy Kakoura, Demi Oyediran, Kimisha
Lewis, Raf Boylan, Laura Nyahuye, Ashley Brown, November 2018

Audience Comments