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WALK & SQUAWK (article first published : 2003-02-21)

The US-based physical theatre company, Walk & Squawk Performance Project, returns to KZN for a four-week residency from March 5 to April 1. They will begin the development of a new production with performers from South Africa while also working with drama students at the University of Natal-Pietermartizburg.

Walk & Squawk co-Artistic Directors Erika Block and Hilary Ramsden will be looking for professional performers to collaborate in the development of their latest production The Walking Project. The collaborative creation of this new piece about both the US and South Africa, specifically Detroit and KZN, will integrate the experiences of artists in both countries.

The Walking Project explores the pathways created by people who walk across fields in South Africa and across vacant lots in Detroit and what connects them. The piece looks at how people make their own paths and how and by what these paths are formed – through culture, geography, language, economics or love. It looks at how changing patterns of movement can alter attitudes and perception; how learning a language alters actual paths in the brain or how taking a car means something very different from taking a walk. The Walking Project looks at how and why people’s paths cross and what, if anything, they do when that happens.

This residency marks the continuation of a relationship between Walk & Squawk and KZN. In 1997, Erika Block and Hilary Ramsden travelled to South Africa for a three-month residency at the University of Natal in Pietermaritzburg. They collaborated with students and faculty members to create Inhlanzi Ishelwe Amanzi - As Fish Out of Water, a multilingual tapestry of South African characters, images and personal stories which explored culture, identity, race and tradition.

The piece premiered at the Standard Bank National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, and in 1998 Walk & Squawk took ten South African performers to Michigan for a six-week residency which included a two-week, sold out run of the piece as well as school workshops, community singing events, audience discussions and artist receptions to great critical and audience acclaim.

The residency at the University of Natal will be followed by three additional residencies in Detroit and South Africa, culminating in the premiere of The Walking Project in Detroit in October 2004. Additional touring performances in South Africa, the UK and the US are planned for 2006. In addition to their work at the University, Walk & Squawk will be teaching workshops at schools and in the community.

More information from Hilary Ramsden on email hilary@walksquawk.org or in South Africa after March 5 at 033 260 5552.




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