PAST EVENT: 22 June: Changing the face of freedom: a half-day conference

Date: Friday 22 June
Venue: Free Word Centre, EC1R 3GA
Tickets: £5, available here


LIFT in association with Index on Censorship and Free Word Centre
As London plays host to theatre makers from around the world for LIFT 2012, we are bringing together visiting and UK based artists for a morning of discussion, debate and workshops  on how different political landscapes impact on what is sayable in the arts.

The panel discussion will include Lucien Bourjeily, Lebanese film-maker and theatre director, who brought improvised theatre to the streets of Beirut during the political turmoil in 2008; Natasha Kaliada and Nicolai Khalezin co-founders of Belarus Free Theatre which performed underground until they were forced into exile in 2010; Monadhil Daood who founded the Iraqi Theatre Company in 2008 by to revive the dynamic theatre tradition of a country which was, until recent times, a theatrical powerhouse in the region; and Tim Etchells (UK) artistic director of Forced Entertainment who has been creating innovative work against the backdrop of the changing cultural climate in UK over 25 years.

We will discuss the influence of different political environments on artistic language and the extent to which the constraints and taboos on, and possibilities of expression are shaped by conflict, revolution, dictatorship, democracy.  We will look at how expression changes when the artist is forced into exile, or the oppressive government is overthrown, or in times of war, how artistic language develops to circumnavigate censorship and the role played by self-censorship.

These questions will be further explored in breakout sessions opening out the discussion to include other art forms and perspectives:

Malu Halasa is an editor and journalist covering the culture and politics of the Middle East will be talking off the record about hip-hop as the language of protest and the underground music scene in Tehran with two visiting artists.

Said Jama, founding member of Somali PEN Centre, scholar and writer, and Ayan Mahamoud director of Kayd, Somali Arts and Culture organisation will discuss, also off the record, the shift from freedom fighter to freedom writer and engaging with their community on issues of freedom of expression.

Farah Abushwesha, film-maker and writer, will talk about how the revolution in Libya has spawned new forms of expression, and her work to bring Libyan women’s stories to an international platform. Zoe Lafferty, associate director Freedom Theatre Palestine, will join her present extracts from her current work The Fear of Breathing, a verbatim portrayal of the on-going events of the Syrian revolution, telling the stories of those caught up in the unfolding crisis in their own words.

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