International

‘By the way, if you’re not on Facebook then you don’t exist’

These words, spoken in a devised theatre performance by a group of Romanian high school students, made me consider their understanding of the world. A world that – for them – is very different from the austere communist upbringing of their parents and grandparents. Their performance suggested a postmodern, fragmented world where order and definite ideas constantly shift; the only way for them to exist with any certainty is in the virtual cyberspace of Facebook and other social media platforms. But, of course, this is not enough. No one can exist virtually; if they do so, their world will become even more distorted and fragmented, even more nonsensical and harsh. In this sense, their virtual worlds may become like the world of the Romanian people under Ceausescu; isolated and insecure. Since 2014 I have been visiting Romania along with UK Drama undergraduates to work in schools on various projects. In that time I have seen both UK and Romanian students learn from each other, as they lead and participate in workshops. More significantly, I have observed the students’ interactions with each and seen how their mutual participation has fostered a kind of reciprocity that, I suggest, resonates with Victor Turner’s notion of spontaneous communitas, in which kinships are formed the ultimately become the foundation of structure and law. This project will resume in October 2017 when I visit National College, Iași to work with youngpeople in a series of workshops. The next phase of the project, provisionally titled Future Cities, aims to explore  how we build our communities and what we can learn from each other as we live, work and play in them. Using the pre-text of designing and building a city for the future, workshop participants will explore what they would like to see in the place they and future generations might live. In doing so, I hope to understand what ‘makes’ communities and the people in them.