Differ/End: The Caledonia Project
"DIFFEREND: A point of difference where the sides speak radically different or heterogeneous languages, where the dispute cannot be phrased in either language without, by its very phrasing, prejudging the issue for that side, being unjust.[…] The differend marks a point where existing representational frameworks are unable to deal with difference without repressing or reducing it." - Jean-François Lyotard (trans. by Bill Readings)
Empathy, Testimonial Dramaturgy and Responsibility in DIFFER/END: The Caledonia Project
Playing with Privilege: Exposing Differ/End: The Caledonia Project and its Position as Activist Theatre
During the course of our research for this performance, we made many trips to Caledonia and Six Nations; groups of us would usually make these trips on Fridays, leaving as early as possible and coming back late in the evening.
We wasted little time, moving from interview to interview, with occasional stops to record the environment, using both cameras and audio recorders. We tried to schedule a lot into a limited amount of time, and in order to do this, we consumed a lot of coffee and drove too fast, going there and back, there and back again. And this is the problem. We did our best, but throughout the work done on this project I was struck by how the only way to really know what’s going on in this land claim crisis, is to take time – to listen and to respect – in such a way that really has been lacking in the politics and history of the dispute.
It’s easy to say I have no time for this, it’s easy to distance oneself from the issue, and from this distance of time and space, it becomes yet another sound bite, another one of the endless headlines of disaster in our world, but what happens when we decide for a moment to break with this distance and abstraction and take some time to be present with this problem? Perhaps being present with the problem takes us past barricades, headlines, and negotiation tables to a place of openness and vulnerability – and this is the place of theatre.
The differend concerns a problem in translation, but perhaps more importantly differends exist whenever an exchange between people can’t be reduced to the unproblematic, commensurate exchange of the culture of commerce that has apparently consumed us all. Differends remind us that we’ve begun to expect most interaction to be conducted in the time it takes for a fast-food drive-through, that most disagreements can be averted with a quick email, that a problem can be solved with the right sum of money. The differend is the blockade, the heart attack, the power outage that tells us we aren’t really listening, that we aren’t taking time to understand what’s going on beyond the world we’ve constructed for ourselves.
It takes time to appreciate the full dimension of the differend, and this isn’t a bad thing. Perhaps the time it takes is akin to the time it takes to do anything with love and understanding, to craft something, to make something from scratch, to bake a pie or make a performance.
We tried to take time to listen to people involved in this conflict, but we are also guilty of not having enough time to really do this problem justice. We have tried to bake a pie, but perhaps all we’ve done is warm up some Tim Bits we bought along the way. We ran out of time, yet it’s not too late to suggest to all who see this performance that we must all try harder to take the time this issue requires: time to read, time to listen, time to understand, time to appreciate the various perspectives and orientations that make up a real community facing its problems.