Readers’ lives

David Harris.

says. ‘is eat them!‘


South American playwright Ariel Dorfman has suffered at the hands of the censors. But his latest work, Reader, may offer them some redemption, as he explains to

His latest play. Reader. receives its world premiere at the Traverse this month, followed by a three-week run during the Edinburgh Festival. ‘1 did not want to settle into a comfortable career. producing things for Broadway or the West End,’ he continues. explaining his decision to unveil the play in Edinburgh. ‘1 think that‘s very dangerous, especially with somebody like me. because i got where I am by writing exactly what I felt and not giving a damn about what anybody

Based on an earlier short story. the drama centres on an official censor about to suppress a subversive novel. As he reads on. he realises that the novel‘s central character is himself. and defies the government line by approving the book's publication. thereby fulfilling the novel‘s own outcome. The

The worldwide success of Dt’Ui/l and the Maiden may have guaranteed public and critical attention for all of Ariel Dorfman's future work. but the Chilean playwright and novelist is not content to rest on his laurels. ‘What you have to do with your laurels.‘ he

Speechless rage: Ariel Dortman’s new play explores the

situation is absurtLand unsettling. although the

cerisor‘s breach of regulations. born of enlightemnent and paternal love. has an optimistic ring.

()stensibly about censorship. Rem/er probes wider concerns. exploring further the territory mapped ottt in Deal/1 and l/lt’ .lluiden and the novel Kori/idem: themes of identity and truth. trust and betrayal. of absorbing the past and building the future. "There are many different forrns ofcensorship.‘ says Dorfman. ‘There is censorship you can‘t avoid, when somebody has the power to say yes or no to your writings: and there’s self-censorship. in which you yourself decide what you get rid of in your life. It‘s this second form which l‘m more interested in.

‘To censor somebody else‘s life. you have to have censored your own: you have to have censored your dreams. repressed your feelings. become a person who can decide the fate of other people. The questions I‘m asking are not about (,‘hilean censorship. they're about what you do with your


i’illtlk'ilk‘i‘\ lit

in the diffcrc

abroad. \Vhe

the play as a


tag that be re

live in my co

nature of censorship There is an

l)orfriran‘s own past rriotivatcs much of his writing. Born in .»\rgentina in l‘l-ll. raised in New York. he lived lit (’liile from Nil until the advent of

ilitary dictatorship in 1973. Exiled and

proscribed for many years. he has a complex relationship with his adopted country. as manifested

ives there and n /)(’(lI/l mull/1e .Ulllt/(‘ll appeared. its

nt reception his work rece

universality was all but overlooked and (.‘hilcans saw

literal account of their history:

conversely. it is difficult for him to \\ rite about local concerns. since international critics read his work

A vehement advocate of human rights. Dorfman is often pigeonholed as a ‘political author". a restrictive

pudiates. ‘I can't help being political in

the typical sense of the word. because politics has determined whether I live or die and whether I cart

untry.‘ idealistic element in the story of Rem/er.

the notion that art can provoke an overhaul ofone’s

Rilkc. i don‘t

prepared you

what I'm tryi story is. then

political and

lronically. [)t a more troubl freedon‘. is th Rem/(7'. 'I'l'rtt‘r and lint /.‘_ .‘i

self—irriage and of ones political convictions. ('an literature really have that effect‘.’ ‘Yes. ifyou’rc reade Dorfman maintains. ‘lf .t\dolfllitler reads

think he's going to turn into a saint.

The point is you have to be ready. life has to have

. ln Kurt/er, sortiebody who has been

controlling other people‘s words all his life suddenly finds that somebody else is narrating him. Maybe

rig to say is that if you find out what that it can help yotr see your life from a

different perspective. Docs art have that much of an . inlluence‘.’ Well. it does if it turns out to be exactly what you've got in your head. There‘s nothing as

subversive as the imaginary.‘

The freedom to imagine is the reward ofesilc.

irfman‘s imaginary homeland may seem ed state than the real place. 0111'

at we’reiust passing through.

’l'.\’( llmrm'. m 28' .lu/y THIN/it 3’ Aug 11g Nut 3 Se/tl.

I Bodybuilding

Able bodies: Sue Smith and David Toole of CandoCo Dance Company

Dance, as Celeste Dandeker of CandoCo knows, can be a dangerous sport. Back in the early 705 at the height of a performing career with London Contemporary Dance Theatre, she fell from a tricky handspring on stage and broke her neck. She found herself confined to a wheelchair and robbed of the use of her legs. Her brilliant career had come to a dramatic and premature end or so she thought.

Twenty years on, Dandeker is still dancing. The wheelchair remains - but she’s found a way of exploiting it (and every inch of mobility left in her limbs) that has spiralled her shelf-life as a performer into an incredible new phase. The turnaround came when fellow dancer Darshan Singh Bhuller persuaded her to appear in a semi- biographical dance-film, The Fall, which has since become something of a signpost for so-called ‘disabled’ performers. Having formerly resigned herself to a static life as a designer for dance, Dandeker explains: ‘I didn’t

artistic director of the troupe. ‘At the time it came as a surprise. I realise

do anything for a long while then suddenly Darshan asked me to dance in his film. I said yes, not really knowing what I was going to do. I don’t think I would have done it otherwise. I don’t think I had the vision or the imagination.’

From there she met up with dance graduate Adam Benjamin when both were working at an integrated sports centre in Middlesex. ‘Perfect place for us to start a dance class,’ announced Benjamin to an astonished Dandeker. Despite her bewilderment she went along with his plans, and from those first tentative steps came the first days of CandoCo - now a permanent mixed-ability dance company with a reputation that burns as bright as any able-bodied company of similar scale.

‘Suddenly we were flavour of the month,’ recalls Dandeker, now joint

now it’s because we never hung

ourselves on the disability hook. We

1 always wanted to be known just as a

dance company.’ As the name

CandoCo suggests the company have

developed their unique dance

language by utilising what each

dancer can do rather than disguising what they can’t. It’s a tough, uncompromising stance and one that

flies in the face of the prevailing Western view of dancers as perfect, body-beautiful athletes. Hot least when you realise that their star dancer

David Toole is a man who has no body at all from the waist down. ‘He has an

incredible presence on stage,’ says Dandeker, explaining Toole’s magnetic

' appeal. ‘He has extraordinary arms

which seem to defy gravity, and an

innate sense of timing . . . he’s a

wicked performer. He challenges

audiences in loads of ways.’ (Ellie


CandoCo Dance Company perform in a triple hill with The Company and Adele Thompson at Scottish Youth Dance

Festival, RSAMD, Friday 14 July,


54 The List 14-27 Jul 1995