During the second lockdown, thanks to an initiative of Anouk Martaud-Robert, policy officer for theater in Mayotte, I was invited as an artist in residence by the Direction for Cultural Affairs culture.gouv.fr/Regions/Dac-Mayotte/Action-culturelle-et-artistique/L-education-artistique-et-culturelle and the local school authority, to meet students specializing in theater at ‘Lycée des lumières’ in Mamoudzou lyc-mamoudzou-nord.ac-mayotte.fr/notre-lycee, at Sada’s polyvalent higher secondary school and at the Acoua workshop.
Moving from an inward quavering to the excitement of the challenge, I realized I did not know that island of the Comoros Archipelago at all. I was thankful for the invitation and left to encounter those young people, the island of Mayotte and its culture. I was to pass on my artistic experience for a month.
Work is love made visible. Khalil Gibran
It was a fascinating mission in which observation and creativeness merged as sources of inspiration. I am deeply grateful to the students I worked with, for the sharing and the distance covered within such a short time. I am also grateful to their teachers for their unstinting collaboration. The way headmasters Jean-Pierre Redjekra and Patrick Loval made me feel welcome and cared about details made work much easier.
Nourished as I was by this marvelously intense experience, I asked myself questions about the transmission of theater in a school context on those little pebbles of the colony. It occurred to me that it was a wonderful opportunity to question what it means to pass on an artistic practice based on a history and culture that are often far removed from the geographical location where the transmission takes place. Really encountering requires observing and listening to the Other and giving oneself enough time to find out about the country’s reality.
The trust, creativeness and sheer readiness I found among those young people, all stimulated by their teachers’ commitment, prompted me to question and analyze the artist comedian in me. Such steps towards another way of doing things need the time of a genuine connection, so when I was back I set out on a parallel exploration that testifies and questions.
This ENCOUNTERING experience continues since I am called upon to meet other challenges and go and live once more with those young people of Mayotte in May, September and October 2021.
To be continued…