The Royal Opera House in London is starting to do some very interesting initiative for students signed up on their programme. 
The first edition of the Student Insights was inspired by the upcoming production of “The Nose” by Shostakovich. This particular opera was written by Shostakovich at the young age of 20, inspired by a short story of Gogol. More to the Opera though in my next blog post, when I will review the piece once I have seen it on the 24th of this month.

The very interesting talk took place in the Clore Studio Upstairs. The presenter was John Hutnyk, on the panel were Thomas Altheimer, Shamil Khan, Bejan Matur, Aki Nawaz, Gillian Slovo and Richard Thomas.

Each person on the panel were rebellious in their own respect. Going through one after another with little snippets of their work – either in form of a short video clip or a poem – they described their motivation. It was hugely fascinating to listen to their inspirations and reasoning behind why they are doing what they are doing.

The one speaker, who was the most inspiring, is Bejan Matur. Of Kurdish Alevi origin her story  is incredible. I actually have a Kurdish relative myself so I knew a little bit about their history. Bejan was imprisoned during her university time and spend one year in prison. This year included torture as well as 38 days in solitary confinement. It was actually quite fascinating to hear what sort of coping mechanism she found for herself. To hear that people are still disadvantaged for their heritage, culture and beliefs. One starts to appreciate the luxury that I have!

What was also great to see is that the panelists amongst themselves were not in agreement about some of the comments were made and there was a great discussion going on between them. Every single one of them had their own views about how they see their work in the context of rebelling against authority. One very interesting point was how they saw their failures – one thing that was also picked up on by one question from the audience. Aki Nawaz and Shamil Khan, who are both involved with Fun-Da-Mental, have been struggling to not have their music banned. Both of them are always being questioned when flying, including being on a no fly list to the US. They see, what might be defined as a failure, as a huge success. The moment you are successful, you are entering the mainstream and leave the fringe.

Thomas Altheimer, a Dane, who is also currently not allowed to travel to the US, brought up and interesting point – Heiner Mueller, a German dramatist, would have had the chance to go to West Berlin at the time of the German separation but he decided to stay in the East – simply for the reason that his work would be much better heard there thanks to the State intervening in everything! Of course this causes a lot more headaches but there is a chance for much more impact!

 

All in all it was a very good way of spending a Friday evening – I am definitely seeing some things in a new light and will do some more research on some of the panelists as it was a very intriguing topic. Having attended this talk I am not very much looking forward to the performance of The Nose to see Shostakovich’s rebellion against authority.

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