Sunday, August 2, 2015

A revival post

As I write this, I sit in the Newark Airport uncertain, anxious, and eager. For almost four weeks I have been home, which is a luxury not often afforded to people my age now that we've entered "adulthood", now that home expands to wherever we lay our first roots. While home for me means humid days spent unpacking and getting my teeth cleaned and eyes examined, it also means hiking, snorkeling, and visiting friendly faces and joyful places. Home has always been hard to leave, especially when home is the first image in a google search for "paradise" (I would imagine), but home is comfort, and lately I've felt too comfortable. My surroundings at home - partially due to my mom's constant supply of homemade goods - lather me in ease, and at this very moment I wish to shed this skin and venture into uncertainty. The first time I fully followed this impulse was the last (and only) time I went to Serbia, and I still consider that the best decision I've ever made. Perhaps this year will pose the first serious challenge to that claim. There's no question that this year will thrust me into unease, and I think many of us operate best when we're out of our comfort zone.

You may be wondering why this blog has over 100 entries already. Well, as I just mentioned, I've been to Serbia before; I spent the year between high school and college there through Princeton's Bridge Year Program. Instead of creating a new blog, I elected to revive this one. Since Princeton has also graciously funded this second voyage, I felt "tiger" was apt. (For background: the name derives from the confusion I received when I explained my plans five years ago, "Siberia?" some replied. Fewer times this go-around but many still don't recognize "Roma" or "Romani", and if you're one of those people, no worries, read on!)

I digress. I suppose "thank you!" is in order. Thank you for reading this far, for clicking on the link in the first place, and for being one of the people to whom I sent the link. You're special to me and I'm grateful that you're in my life!
A rundown of the basics:

Tomorrow I leave for Edinburgh where I will be spending the month interning for Baby Wants Candy, a musical theatre improv troupe, at the Fringe Festival, the largest arts festival in the world. Last year there were roughly 50,000 performances of more than 3,000 shows. I can't comprehend that much theatre in just one month, but it seems insanely amazing. The calendar of events is more than 400 pages long. Unreal.

But this blog isn't called the Scottish Tiger now is it? A few things may pop up this month but I'll start blogging weekly-ish come September because that's when I head back to the Balkans.

Thanks to a generous fellowship awarded to a graduating senior, I am moving to Belgrade, Serbia for roughly a year to create and stage a documentary play that explores longstanding ethnic tensions between the Serb and Romani people. Interviews I conduct with individuals of all ages from both groups will provide the text for the play, which will be formatted as a series of monologues that interlace segments of interviews to draw out underlying themes and individual experiences. I intend to create two versions: a shorter play for performances at middle and high schools and longer play for the general Serbian audience.

This play aims to give audiences the opportunity to listen to voices that societal constraints and perhaps their own prejudices have prevented them from hearing. As with most problems, there is no simple solution to the combination of the injustices that befall the Romani population in Serbia and the difficulties that face programs that attempt to integrate the Romani people. Though this play will not single-handedly nullify existing issues, I hope it leaves people with more questions than answers and with a little more room inside of them to imagine how someone else experiences the world.

Alright, that's all for now. More to come in the coming weeks. Thank you, again, for reading and have a lovely week!