Interviews

5 Questions to Gregory Maqoma about ‘The Global Playground’ – premiere at the Manchester International Festival, 2-18 July 2021

Gregory Maqoma.<br />© Marijke Willems. (Click image for larger version)
Gregory Maqoma.
© Marijke Willems. (Click image for larger version)

Theatre-Rites The Global Playground “explores the magic of our first encounters, how we play together…” and opens the dance programme at this years Manchester International Festival, running from 2-18 July 2021. more details

www.facebook.com/gregory.maqoma
theatre-rites.co.uk
mif.co.uk

Q: We like the idea of fun and play in performance, so The Global Playground sounds fantastic, but tell us more about the intention and what we should expect…

GM: Global Playground is a work set in a film studio where a director is trying to make a film but a lot goes wrong to the anxiety of the dancers on which the film is based. The work allows us to interrogate the human instinct of holding on even when confronted with a breaking point. Is also about the pre-conceived ideas of others from that first encounter, how we frame, zoom in and out giving in to what the eye sees, or in this case what the camera sees.
 

Jahmarley Bachelor in publicity image for The Global Playground.© Chris Nash. (Click image for larger version)
Jahmarley Bachelor in publicity image for The Global Playground.
© Chris Nash. (Click image for larger version)

How is it all coming together – Covid and a creative team scattered in different countries must be a nightmare?

Myself and co-creator Sue Buckmaster have been on this trip for over 2 years, with early ideas conceived pre-Covid and we had to be flexible and adapt but also to learn and introduce new skills of working. Seeing each other and developing concepts in Covid times meant that we had a new collaborator, which is a camera and we embraced that phenomenon and treated it as an opportunity to still make and present work.
 

What’s your creative process in the studio or collaborative space? Do you have nearly all the movement worked out beforehand? And how do you work with your composer?

Developing a work like this is a process that involves all key player including the dancers, actors, composers, film directors and producers. Some ideas continue to develop online, over Zoom and some, where possible, have taken place in the studio and both scenarios are critical to development of the work.
 

Gregory Maqoma.© Marijke Willems. (Click image for larger version)
Gregory Maqoma.
© Marijke Willems. (Click image for larger version)

Black Lives Matter and Diversity are rightly to the forefront of many minds and in many institutions. What have you personally found the big issues in your career? Still a way to go?

I’ve long refused to see myself as a subject to be objectified. I therefore choose to tell stories without pre-conceived ideas of what a black story means to anyone else. My job is to make a viewer see my point of view and perhaps through that they can see themselves and decide from that experience if race matters, if black lives matter, if history matters. Plainly I just want to make work that talks about subjects that inspire me and of course I do find parallels with issues of blackness because one can’t simply erase what continues to be replayed as a reminder that I am black – and I live in a world that is not ready to accept that we are diverse.
 

What’s your motto or mantra in life?

Speak your truth without defence…
 
 

About the author

Bruce Marriott

Bruce Marriott is editor of DanceTabs

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