Art & Events Interview Caro Meets Theatre Interview

Katherina Radeva: A Journey Of A Home

By | Published on Monday 15 June 2020

When I heard that Two Destination Language were to release an audio piece about home, migration and the nature of travel to coincide with Refugee Week, I thought it sounded like a brilliant idea, especially as it’s designed to be experienced while out walking. And luckily, it looks like the weather this week is very much on our side for that kind of thing.

It’s not the first time it’s been performed, so I was keen to know how different a version this would be. To find out more I spoke to co-creator Katherina Radeva.

CM: Can you start by telling us what sort of experience to expect from this online version of ‘A Journey Of A Home’?
KR: ‘A Journey Of A Home’, the online version, is not too dissimilar from the live version. Essentially, it is an audio piece about migration. When we first made the piece in 2012 we imagined it as a one-on-one audio performance walk which we presented at outdoor festivals around the UK and abroad. The big difference with the online version, is that we hope that you will go on a walk with it, by yourself.

We won’t be there with you to hold your hand and take you on a specially designed walk we had carefully mapped out in each location, but you can take us with you for a 20 minute walk. There’s an opportunity to share your own journeys with us after the walk: usually people do this on postcards, but for this version they can email a drawing or some writing to us, or share on social media.

CM: What themes do you explore through it? And is there a narrative?
KR: There are two voices in the work.

One tells the story of a young woman, aged sixteen, arriving in the UK for the first time. It is her story, her voice. The story starts in a city in Eastern Europe, in the car on the way to the airport and finishes as the young woman steps outside Terminal Two of Heathrow Airport.

The other voice invites us to think about home and what that means, the nature of travel and how that changes us and language. So there’s a narrative, and some space – not silence – around that.

CM: It’s a while since it was first performed, isn’t it? Have you made any significant changes to it since then?
KR: It has been a while since we first performed it, yes. The audio has been changed only a little, because it is actually really interesting to experience how the frame of this moment is making us read it.

Very few people are able to travel, whether their reasons are mundane or life-changing. Significantly, we are not there to hold your hand for 20 minutes while you simply follow us and trust us as to where we are taking you.

The intimacy of holding a stranger’s hand is very powerful and that intimacy is now lacking. There are lots of questions about how and when we can rebuild the choreography of intimacy in social spaces.

CM: What was the original inspiration for the piece?
KR: For as long as I have lived in this country immigration has been a very divisive word. For as long as I remember, I am just another immigrant – but migration, emigration and immigration has been going on for centuries. For centuries people have moved around the globe and with that movement they bring and take their cultural customs, their identity or at least some of the things that form their identity. So, ‘A Journey Of A Home’ was first made to celebrate all the migration patterns that makes us a richer society.

CM: What made you decide to make this online version available now? Is it just as (more?) relevant now?
KR: In many ways, I think ‘A Journey Of A Home’ has felt current since we made it, but the nature of travel is currently changing. And although those changes are quite difficult, they are also really exciting.

Look at the cleaner air we are breathing at the same time as I ask myself how I could travel home if I needed to?

The immigration question has never gone away. The hostile environment promoted by the Conservative government, the legacy of Theresa May as Home Secretary, certainly plays its part in people leaving homes, friends and work – at the same time as nurses are risking their lives in COVID wards, many of whom migrated to this country.

CM: Can you tell us a bit about Two Destination Language? When, how and why did you come together? What were/are your aims?
KR: Two Destination Language is led by two artists, Alister and me, coming from different perspectives, histories, geographies and experiences.

We make intercultural dialogues in theatrical forms. We make work that sits on conventional stages – when the theatres are open! – and we work with communities across the UK, and we curate events foregrounding other artists’ work in the form of festivals and curated conversations.

In every project we make, somehow we like to celebrate differences. We are all different and that makes this world a great place to be. We promote listening as a deep form of communication.

CM: What hopes do you have for the company in the future?
KR: We hope to stay relevant, agile and make work which seems vital. And, of course, at this moment in time we hope to survive this period of transition which is particularly tough for the whole theatre sector. Change often feels scary and there are often losses, but it is also the opportunity to transform and remould for an altogether better world.

CM: What would you have been doing now if the COVID19 crisis hadn’t happened?
KR: We would have been developing ‘Lone Wolves’, a show about foregrounding marginal migrant voices in low paid work such as cleaning.

‘Lone Wolves’ started as a solo piece but we are developing it as a large participatory project for urban spaces. And that is hard to do at the moment, not least because how we occupy those spaces is changing.

Also, we would have been in preparation for the Autumn tour of ‘Fault Lines’, our feminist catwalk show with a brilliant cast, that is at the moment being postponed to spring 2021 – but who knows when and how we will be able to once again be in the same room for a period of time to experience a live theatre show? We hope that we don’t have to wait for too long.

CM: A lot of arts companies have been releasing work online or via conferencing tools over the last few months. Can you see that sort of ‘culture delivery’ continuing beyond lockdown?
KR: Yes, we do actually. Some of that was already happening in live streaming and the like before the crisis. For the future, it does depend what kind of form the online delivery takes.

For us, simply releasing a recording of a live show or even a filmed performance is not as interesting as investigating a more participatory audience approach and looking at collective digital experience.

There has already been a few very lovely examples where the digital form meets the content of the work and it absolutely makes sense and it’s exciting to have been part of it.

CM: What have you been doing during lockdown to stay sane?
KR: We foster dogs, so caring for our canine companions has definitely been a way of staying sane. We have been walking lots as well and we have been taking things a lot slower. It has been brilliant to slow down a bit and focus on well-being and collective kindness. We did also make lots of rhubarb and ginger jam which we have been sending to pals across the country.

You can access ‘A Journey Of A Home’ here until 21 Jun.

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