On Common Ground

Statera Foundation is made up of a powerful coalition of artists doing amazing things to nurture and ensure equity in our theater communities through our story telling, artistic leadership, fundraising efforts, demands for social justice, and through our creative alliances. Today, Statera is excited to share with you the exquisite work of two Statera-affiliated theatre artists: Kathleen Mulligan and Fizza Hasan.

In the Spring of 2015, Kathleen Mulligan traveled to Pakistan as a Fulbright specialist to collaborate on her project "Voices of Partition" with her husband, David Studwell, and members of Islamabad's Theatre Wallay. The resulting piece Dagh Dagh Ujala (This Stained Dawn), was based on interviews with survivors of the Partition of 1947. Statera first met Kathleen Mulligan and Theatre Wallay's Artistic Director, Fizza Hasan, the following summer during StateraCon15 when they shared a presentation about their collaboration. 

Kathleen Mulligan (left) and Fizza Hasan (right)

Kathleen Mulligan (left) and Fizza Hasan (right)

Kathleen and Fizza are at it again! Their newest collaboration, On Common Ground, is an original theatre piece that explores how we celebrate and reclaim public places -- schools, squares, mosques, parks -- spaces intended for learning, leisure and worship, which have also been targeted as venues for terror. Kathleen and Fizza are joined by American theatre artists Linda Alper and David Studwell, as well as eight Theatre Wallay actors/writers, two Pakistani musicians, a dancer and a stage manager. The project is sponsored by US Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan.

After being developed in Islamabad, On Common Ground will travel to the U.S., where it will be performed at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, OR and at Artists Repertory Theatre in Portland, OR. Besides performing, Theatre Wallay participants will attend information sharing sessions and skills-based workshops. In Portland, Theatre Wallay artists will meet with managers of small theaters who will share concrete information about arts management, to foster Theatre Wallay’s growth and fiscal health. At the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the focus will be expanded to education training - learning teaching skills used to promote tolerance and reduce conflict. 

The next part of this eighteen-month project will be hosted by Ithaca College, where Kathleen is Assistant Professor of Voice and Speech. Ithaca’s Department of Theatre Arts and Center for the Study of Culture, Race and Ethnicity will invite two of the Theatre Wallay artists to travel to New York State, where the visitors will co-lead a student project to further develop the public space theme and write additional material from an American perspective. The Pakistani artists, still collaborating with Mulligan, Studwell and Alper, will hone their newly expanded teaching skills, culminating in an Ithaca College presentation.

Theatre Wallay and Artists Repertory Theatre collaborating in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Finally, in Islamabad, the last project phase will integrate the American perspective, as appropriate, into Theatre Wallay’s script, which will then be translated into Urdu. Theatre Wallay will then present On Common Ground in theatres and schools in Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar, combining performances with educational workshops that encourage students to explore the public space theme through writing as well as participatory exercises. The culmination of the project will be a script writing competition for young people, organized by Theatre Wallay. The winning script will be developed and workshopped with Theatre Wallay artists.

Learn more about Theatre Wallay's On Common Ground in the video below and by visiting their FACEBOOK page or WEBSITE. You can see On Common Ground at Artist Repertory Theatre in Portland, Oregon on June 26th or 28th (reserve tickets HERE) or you can see it at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival on July 4th or July 6th as part of the Green Show.