miss british & the indian ensemble
We got ourselves comfortable in the living room, plugged the laptop to the TV and we started going through the script but first, "Have you done the reading?"
What is Circulatory History?
When we look at history, it has always been rather linear i.e. this happened here at this year and because of that this thing happened there and there and hence we have this now. The argument set forth by Duara in this chapter is that some ideas and stories move geographically, socially or culturally in a circular manner, and therefore that history and culture are not the sole right of a specific community but instead transversed by several networks and forces, interweaved with local politics and planetary concerns.
With that cleared up, how is this relevant to Miss British?
The original script encapsulates the stories of a migrant woman in a privileged position: European passport, comfortable socio-economic status, and, in general terms, happy. However, we felt that while the intimacy of Sharon's stories were indeed the main artistic value of whatever work emerges out of them, at the same time by having those stories in and of themselves alone on stage we ran the risk of failing to do justice to the histories that made these stories possible. Already in the text was an (almost) unspoken tension between the racial configuration of societal perceptions and Sharon social status.... but this remained rather a detail in the work and not really the driving force, which instead was the idea of being a global nomad. We asked ourselves: How can we even begin to speak of global citizenship before speaking of the circulatory histories that made global citizenship possible in the first place? Moreover, we also had to address the issue of making the work able to resonate with the local imaginations in Singapore.
We decided to shorten the title: From the Amazing Adventures of Miss British to Miss British alone. That way we are already highlighting the tension of the fact that migration unsettles the idea of national purity. Then, we decided to invite an ensemble of 3 Indian performers. The British Empire traded the same with African slaves then with Indian labourers. It is not a coincidence that the Caribbean, where Sharon's family comes from, has large black and indian communities, established there since a couple of centuries back. Blackness is not seen in Singapore. But Indian labour is. Miss British in Singapore must be coloured. Only then we can begin to speak of Sharon's global citizenship.
So today, after clearly defining the 13 scenes in the existing script, we started making calls to form our indian ensemble. We hope our dream cast is available. Wish us luck!