Review of 'Black Sun Over Genoa' by Theatre Workshop and 'Tipping Point' by Davey Anderson
In the midst of the preparations for the huge anti-G8 protests, Scotland's radical theatre companies have been formulating their responses to the arrival of the captains of capitalism.
Edinburgh-based Theatre Workshop, the integrated company of disabled and non-disabled actors, are performing Black Sun Over Genoa as part of the G8 Alternatives programme. Playing at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre, 30 June and 1 July, and Tramway, Glasgow, 5 July, it is a reworking of the company's 2002 play Nothing Ever Burns Down By Itself which was their response to the anti-G8 protests in Genoa in 2001, and the murder of demonstrator Carlo Giuliani by the police.
The new piece, a collectively devised, large-scale community production, is changed considerably from the original due to the assistance of the Genoa Legal Forum (which represents protesters the Italian cops are attempting to scapegoat in the courts) and the involvement of Carlo's mother, Haidi.
'The Legal Forum was brilliant,' says artistic director Robert Rae. 'They gave us access to acres of footage, with lots of shots of the different places [where incidents took place during the demonstrations]. They also introduced us to Haidi. That very much helped to shape the framework of the piece.'
The play follows the progress of anti-capitalists from Scotland as they find their way through the 20 July demonstrations in Genoa, and culminates in both the tragedy of Carlo's death, and the commemorations of his life. Haidi will give a speech during the show, in the context of the commemorative event which was held on the first anniversary of her son's killing.
Rae also hopes to give audiences a sense of the diversity of the anti-capitalist movement through the play. 'We try to tell, as honestly as we can, where the different groups are coming from,' he explains. 'We use the simple device of a guy who goes over there from Edinburgh trying to find where he belongs in it all. He goes through the different blocs. So the audience should get an introduction to the anti-capitalist movement, and where it divides ideologically and tactically.
'As a community play, we wanted the participants to feel that engagement as well. So we divided them into six blocs, and then they researched their bloc. We brought speakers in from each of the different blocs to talk to the participants, and they developed their own characters from there.'
This compartmentalised view of the movement may seem a little schematic to some, but Rae is insistent on anti-capitalism's ability to change the world. The performance of Haidi Giuliani is also guaranteed to be a powerful moment in the theatre.
In addition to Theatre Workshop's show, the famous socialist theatre company 7:84 will be presenting Tipping Point, a documentary theatre performance on the issues of grassroots challenges to corporate power and ecological destruction. Following every 45-minute performance there will be a public forum to discuss the subjects raised. The piece plays The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen, 30 June, the MacRobert Arts Centre, Stirling, 1 July, and The Arches, Glasgow, 3 July.