Reflections on Wednesday’s Open Forum by Alice Withers, Flare’s Learning and Engagement Manager

“Dr Patrick Campbell urged us to think about ‘Hospitality’. He said there are two types of hospitality. Conditional hospitality, whereby you may appear to be friendly and kind to someone, however only on the conditions that they are seemly nice back. And unconditional hospitality, a type of hospitality which holds no bounds. These were the parting provocations from the Open Forum, held yesterday at Contact.

Is conditional hospitality necessary? He spoke about how in certain situations an ‘inner circle’ is paramount. This ‘Inner Circle’ he describes, such as the one which I was sitting amongst. No, the one I am part of. In the room we are programmers, academics, and artists – all whom seem to share a common cause. To share and discuss art, live art, performance, theatre.

During the past few days, I’ve seen this year’s Flare community develop. One which must change with each term of Flare. And I can understand why Dr Campbell makes this point. Festivals such as this provide an indispensable platform for artists to present work and gain constructive feedback. It feels like a safe place for artists, to be daring, and to bare all.

Tamar Blom, who was invited to be an artist chair, spoke up about not having to choose to be challenging OR hospitable. You can be both. It’s the way that we invite the audience to discover and be challenged in a comfortable way. This was in relation to the discussion of nudity within contemporary theatre, and it seems that the British are the least comfortable.

Although conversations might have taken a sideline away from the original topic, and I’m not sure I left with any answers, only more questions. It felt like the only thing I could agree on was that we should talk MORE. Let’s have a symposium next time!

Alice Withers

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