Dash Arts September Café, kicked off our Autumn series of events, taking us further into #EUTOPIA – our search for the heart of Europe. The night’s conversation was fed by audience questions and reflections on the impact of Brexit on artistic practice and identity. Excerpts of music and performance from Miriam Sherwood’s autobiographical contemporary cabaret piece “Rendezvouz in Bratislava,” gave the night a special charm.
We created our current programme EUTOPIA, as a direct response to the 2016 EU Referendum. As the UK voted to leave the EU, we wanted to understand what it meant to be European and what we mean by Europe. So this year, we changed our intended programme to devote the bulk of our work over the next few years to these questions.
The Dash Café is one of the places we ask questions to fantastic artists, thinkers, journalists, academics and our audiences in an informal performance/bar space packed with live music, film, performance and conversation.
Josephine Burton – Dash Arts Co-Artistic Director reflections on this café…
This month, inspired by having experienced the Brexit impact on my own work, I asked various artists – a comedian, writer/ director and dramaturg – to reflect on their Brexit impact. Their responses were sensitive, humour-filled and fascinating.
Bojana Jankovic from There There theatre company, clearly has entirely changed her artistic approach since the referendum. Despite seeing little to look forward to in post-Brexit Britain where she might not even have the right to stay, she absolutely saw the change in the artistic direction for the company as positive.
I was interested that each reflected a sense of alienation since Brexit; all three felt a need to define themselves more clearly as being from elsewhere. Although none suggested that this was from a sense of threat. Rather that Britain and Britishness, or for Miriam being a Londoner, had perhaps lost some of its attraction? This struck a chord for me personally. Coincidentally, in the days that followed the Dash Café, I received confirmation from the Irish Embassy that I had become Irish! My Great-grandparents, by a twist of immigrant fate, were unexpectedly kicked off a boat in Dublin at the beginning of the 20th century and my late grandfather was born there. The EU referendum, and the prospect of a loss of European Citizenship, has prompted me to take up his citizenship.
The Dash Café Guests and my own personal response has left me wondering whether this desire to identify from elsewhere stems from a sense that a Britain which rejects its European neighbours is no longer a place to call home?