Interview with Valentina Zagaria, the director and writer of 'Miraculi'

What made you want to bring ‘Miraculi’ to the Camden Fringe this year?

Several friends from other emerging theatre companies launched their first shows at the Camden Fringe, and found it a very positive experience. Théâtre Senza is a new company, we have just finished our studies at the Lecoq school in Paris, and Miraculi is our first creation. Having the possibility to premiere our show at the Camden Fringe in a theatre like the Tristan Bates is a fantastic opportunity.

What makes ‘Miraculi’ unique?

Miraculi is the culmination of three years research and one year creative development. I have been doing ethnographic research in Lampedusa since 2011, and had wanted to create a theatre piece about this island for a long time. Our company formed out of a shared desire to go to Lampedusa in order to gather and then be able to share some of its stories, which are now captured in Miraculi. The theatre language and style we developed for the piece is therefore rooted in research and in a particular connection to the people and places we portray.

We ourselves are an international theatre troupe, including members from Finland, France, Italy, Scotland, Switzerland and Turkey. As such, we feel a necessity to tell about what is happening in Lampedusa, Europe's frontier island.

What do you hope the audience will take away from the show?

Lampedusa is a speck of Italian soil in the Mediterranean. People on their journeys to Europe have been travelling through it for the past twenty years. Thousands have died at sea making this voyage, their deaths often going by unreported. The few bodies that are recovered are buried by Lampedusans.

In September 2013 we did a month residency in Lampedusa in order to gather the memories, opinions and life stories of the people who live there and of those who pass through. What does everyday life involve for those inhabiting Europe's edges? And how do these stories speak to us? By exploring the dynamics and paradoxes of the island, we hope to give a fresh perspective on both Lampedusa and the so-called 'issue' of migration, which are often distorted by the media and politicians.

We hope the audience will see that the choices people are faced with at Europe’s frontier are also our choices. And that, when it comes to unjust laws, disobedience might well be the only way to turn miracles into practice.

What does the London theatre scene mean to you?

London is an important city for theatre where attention seems to be more readily given to work that focuses on current issues.

What challenges have you faced bringing ‘Miraculi’ to the stage? How have you overcome these?

This project has been an ambitious endeavour right from the start. It was crucial for us to live and work in Lampedusa for a time in order to be able to create our show. It was hard to gather the money to get this initial part of the project off the ground. And it has been hard to gather money ever since. It was also tricky to keep up the momentum over such a long period of time – we first got together to discuss the project in March 2013.

The latest challenge we have to face though, a week from opening night, is possibly the hardest, because it is completely out of our hands. Doga, one of our company members, is Turkish and doesn’t yet know whether he has been granted a visa to come to London for the Camden Fringe.

Who do you find inspirational?

Storytellers and ethnographers

What are your plans for the future?

We would like to bring Miraculi to different European and North African countries, as we feel it is crucial for these stories to travel. We are planning a tour in Turkey for the spring, and hope the show will resonate with those living at the border with Europe, where people are often faced with similar choices to those of the inhabitants of Lampedusa.

Show taking place at Tristan Bates Theatre
1a Tower Street
Covent Garden
London WC2H 9NP

dates time ticket prices concessions
Mon 4 August 2014 9:30pm £10.00 £7.50
Tue 5 August 2014 9:30pm £10.00 £7.50
Wed 6 August 2014 9:30pm £10.00 £7.50
Thu 7 August 2014 9:30pm £10.00 £7.50
Fri 8 August 2014 9:30pm £10.00 £7.50
Sat 9 August 2014 9:30pm £10.00 £7.50

Book tickets at www.camdenfringe.com

Video http://vimeo.com/70575104
Théâtre Senza
www.theatresenza.com

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