non/fictionLab researcher David Carlin led a week-long workshop in June, in partnership with the Adelaide Festival and the Major Festivals Initiative, investigating the potential translation of his book The Abyssinian Contortionist (UWAP, 2015) into a stage performance work.
David worked with director Kate Champion, producer Ali Barker and performers Sosina Wogayehu, Tigist Strode and Lielit Ketsela on the workshop. Kate Champion has a great track record as a director, including as founding Artistic Director of Force Majeure.
Sosina Wogayehu, the subject of The Abyssinian Contortionist, is an internationally renowned circus performer. The book intervenes in vital international issues including zenophobia, race relations and asylum seekers. It asks how one can approach writing the story of another person’s life, across differences of gender, culture and geography. It places the ‘story’ of Sosina Wogayehu, an Ethiopian-Australian asylum-seeker, within a broader context of the history of Western cultural perceptions of Africa. It does so using techniques of personal reflection and narration, combined with ethnographic observation and historical research, dramatizing, within its narrative structure, the question of how stories are told and by whom.
Translating the book into a performance work brings up a whole new set of issues and creative possibilities, which the team hope to explore further in the coming months.