Babylonia was written by Armando Discépolo, an Argentinian playwright in the first half of the twentieth century. In heightened style, but using real characters from working class backgrounds and from amongst the wealthy. He put them in conflict with each other to highlight the class and power differences. In Babylonia, he creates an Argentinian Upstairs/Downstairs situation where a rebellion from below stairs, full of servants from around the continent, dissipates as soon as the “master” from above stairs descends to deal with his employees.
Head for Heights ran two workshops in the Spring and Autumn 2010 with actors from many different backgrounds and languages, English, Nigerian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, to explore the cacophony of languages and attitudes that Discépolo uses in his play. We concentrated on how characters communicate without the benefit of all speaking the same language, what physical and other means of expression emerge.
Then in April 2011, Head For Heights worked with Rich Mix in the East End to run further workshops with both actors from different ethnic backgrounds and with people working in the service industries, especially hospitality, hotels and kitchens. We still used the melange of languages and improvised equivalent modern situations inspired by the incidents in the original play were used.
Directed by Sue Dunderdale & Gemma Kerr
Translated by Catherine Boyle
Produced by Karen Morash
Laura Martin Simpson
Pictures copyright Head for Heights
'I just want to say a very big thank you for this great opportunity, for letting me be a partaker of this workshop. It was fantastic and an eye opener'
'Just a quick note to say how much I enjoyed working with you last week. There was a wonderful atmosphere and energy in the group and I hope the sessions were useful for the future development of the project.'
This workshop was in collaboration with Rich Mix and was generously funded by King's College London's Cultural Institute for the 'Translating Cultural Extremity' project