This is a 90 minute show that has been performed over 100 times to approximately 3000 audience members of various backgrounds and ages in Scandinavia, Egypt and the UK.
The show translates Furniss's research findings into a spoken word, photographic and musical format that allows for articulating them to new and different audiences, experimenting with new ways of communicating research findings, and new modes of artistic production through collaboration with academic researchers.
The performer transformed two of Furniss' written academic pieces into performative vignettes in his show, and drew on Furniss' work more broadly to inform his practice. The artist describes in his testimonial how Furniss’s work inspired him in general for the performance and was integral in helping him to understand the context and providing material.
"I used quotations from his research work throughout my other stories. Later Jamie later commented on the show, helping me with suggestions and improvements, as well as writing an elegant preface for the photo book version of "My Neighborhood""
The show received a 4* review in the Edinburgh Fringe.
Partners who hosted performances commented on the novelty of this show, its impact on them on them as organizations, and on the audiences that saw it:
“Many of our audience have since said to me that they found Christian’s testimony both enthralling and inspiring. They were impressed by Christian […] and the multi-layer media communication of these through his elegant words, music and photographs. […].
"The nature of the performance has contributed to an expanded range of formats and media in events we have to offer (on top of the workshops, book group, informal discussions, services of liturgy, talks etc that we would more usually have.)”
“Christian’s presentation offers an imaginative and beautifully constructed narrative, weaving together his personal journey and the realities of life for Zabbaleen communities in Cairo. He achieves this through striking vignettes which highlight complex social, cultural and political issues, and in particular the globalised challenges of consumption, waste and environmental justice as these impact sharply on the everyday lives of widely despised and hidden communities. The performance gives faces, names and voices to people directly affected, mediated through images, live music and Christian’s capacity for storytelling and reflection."
"It is clear that our constituency values innovative approaches which enable learning and exploration of issues in different ways, and which engage not only engage the intellect but evoke emotional and creative responses to public issues. Christian Stejskal’s performance made a distinctive and telling contribution to the ongoing work of the Centre.”
Sample audience comments from feedback taken after the show include:
• “Insight into the lives of people I knew nothing about. Enlarges my sense of humanity and the world.”
• “Did not realize the scale of ‘garbage city’ nor the complexity”
• “I didn’t know anything about this group, very educative.”
• “I knew very little about the subjects presented, so felt like a learnt a lot about this community, about the effects of the revolution”
• “Just very eye-opening ... I already knew a bit about Coptic Christians and waste issues, but is now more real.”
• “New understanding of an unusual aspect of Egyptian life.”
• “Was not very aware of the issues – very enlightening.”
This show is a colourful personal journey from my birth city of Vienna to Ethiopia by foot, then into the lives of Cairo’s rubbish collectors whom I met during this pilgrimage. After finishing my walk in Axum, I returned to Cairo and lived with the “Zabaleen”. Supporting myself as a violinist at the Cairo Opera House, I spent 5 years taking photos and listening to stories of their joys, struggles, tragedies, and small triumphs. Through seven spoken-word vignettes, photos, and music performed live on the violin, this show recounts lives of the Zabbaleen and my encounter with them.