“On Common Ground” is a collaboration between Theatre Wallay, Ithaca College (theater department), Artists Repertory Theatre, and Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The project aims to explore public spaces and people’s changing relationships with such spaces through theatrical performances.
On Common Ground, an original theatre piece, explores how we celebrate and reclaim public places – schools, squares, mosques, parks — spaces intended for learning, leisure and worship, which have also been targeted as venues for terror. American professionals Linda Alper and David Studwell and Ithaca College theatre professor Kathleen Mulligan will develop, direct and produce this devised play in collaboration with eight Theatre Wallay actors/writers, two Pakistani musicians, a dancer and a stage manager. The US Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan is graciously sponsoring this project.
After being developed in Islamabad, On Common Ground will travel to the U.S., where it will be performed at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, a world-class non-profit institution, whose work is guided by the values of diversity, inclusion and community. The piece will also have two performances at Artists Repertory Theatre, Portland, Oregon’s longest running professional theatre, whose commitment is to thought provoking work. Besides performing, Theatre Wallay participants will attend information sharing sessions and skills-based workshops. In Portland, Theatre Wallay artists will meet with managers of small theatres who will share concrete information about arts management, to foster Theatre Wallay’s growth and fiscal health. At the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the focus will be expanded to education training — learning teaching skills used to promote tolerance and reduce conflict.
The next part of this eighteen-month project will be hosted by Ithaca College. Ithaca’s Department of Theatre Arts and Center for the Study of Culture, Race and Ethnicity will invite two of the Theatre Wallay artists to travel to New York State, where the visitors will co-lead a student project to further develop the public space theme and write additional material from an American perspective. The Pakistani artists, still collaborating with Professor Mulligan, Mr. Studwell and Ms. Alper, will hone their newly expanded teaching skills, culminating in an Ithaca College presentation.
Finally, in Islamabad, the last project phase will integrate the American perspective, as appropriate, into Theatre Wallay’s script, which will then be translated into Urdu. Theatre Wallay will then present On Common Ground in theatres and schools in Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar, combining performances with educational workshops that encourage students to explore the public space theme through writing as well as participatory exercises. The culmination of the project will be a script writing competition for young people, organized by Theatre Wallay. The winning script will be developed and workshopped with Theatre Wallay artists.