Carthage / Cartagena By Caridad Scvich

We are very sorry to report the death of our valued and amazing colleague and close friend lionel M Macauley who was a central performer in Carthage/Cartagena . Due to his passing, we will be pausing the Carthage tours.

SDC’s production of Carthage/Cartagena by Caridad Svich explores the impact on those displaced and isolated by slavery, human trafficking and forced migration. The performance text Carthage is a series of ten multi-lingual letter song-poems from metaphorical places of dislocation. This beautiful work is presented by Signdance Collective as a hybrid dance theatre piece incorporating dance, theatre, music, and languages spoken and signed.

‘Dance Theatre at its best’ David Crystal Cambridge

Carthage is an ambitious mad wild journey through experimental prosody, a crazy mixture of writing styles ranging from ancient classical literature, fused with high flung beatnik flights of literary irreverence and empowered by fresh, informed righteous anger at the poor treatment of people and the debacle of trafficking, and, in turn, ultimately slavery right across the board.

Signdance manages to create a genuine, unique theatrical world that lingers long in the mind after the performance is over …Beautiful to behold. Caridad Svich

The language

Carthage is a contemporary piece based on the very topical subjects of slavery and human trafficking. One of the key theme's woven into the text is the power of language and the struggle for many who face adversity; and as such cannot speak the language of the oppressor as eloquently, and therefore, are rendered disenfranchised This theme is amplified by the use of sign as another language that is also not widely understood. Yet invention and yearning for freedom by way of articulating a plea for freedom in a second language can render the language all the more poignant despite the fact. Carthage/Cartagena encapsulates and distils this dilemma perfectly in poetical terms. The spoken word in partnership with sign language has the potential to deliver this crisis of communication straight to the heart bypassing all intellectual rumination and deflection, and in turn expose the devastating effects of slavery in no uncertain terms.. David Bower, Artistic Director

The choreography

Carthage/Cartegena" has four performers. Lionel Macauley, Isolte Avila, Signdance Collective's Cuban dance director and Welsh artistic director David Bower have developed a unique sign dance vocabulary which develops and unites Lionel Macauley’s Jersey Club Street Dance. Lionel is a 26-year-old African-American Artist/Actor/Dancer from Somerset, New Jersey of Sierra Leonean heritage., He has recently worked with Beyoncé in her music video "Party" ft. Kanye West and J Cole.

The result of this combination, along with muic from Austrian composer /performer Angelina Schwammerlin, development by Dutch and Spanish directors Joke Menssink, Beatriz Cabur, and Brazilian associate director Pedro De Senna, and with final direction and Dramaturgy from Slovenian Goro Osojnik, Carthage makes for an exquisite, distinctive and comprehensible piece of work which speaks to the World .

The mix of styles, and flite of bodies through contact work has enhanced and partnered the signdance theatre like none other. Isolte Avila, Creative Director & Choreographer

Critical reviews…

These “letters from afar” are not only written from spaces of dislocation, but also speak from the borderlands of the real, a space beyond representation and language, encircling the edges of trauma. The performed text of Carthage/Cartagena drew on multiple languages, English, Spanish, Italian, BSL, and ASL as a strategy to approach this “unspeakable” space of trauma through the disconnected space between languages, and the gap between meanings lost in translation.

Signdance is the perfect company to interpret the piece because they move between so many registers of language: spoken, sung, and embodied in their specific fusion of dance and sign. Images of homeland, like a lemon tree, a cake, or a spinning top, were invoked as the final vestiges of subjectivity from the edges of the traumatic experience. Their approach was to interpret the loss of homeland as the structural loss of innocence. Coming of age in the blown-out wasteland of Carthage/Cartagena means grappling with the shock of total loss, a retracing of the missing pieces of self, and transformation in a state of absolute exile. The ritual structure of the choreography, a spiraling meditation, made room for the co-presence of these lost voices—the casualties of violent acts of displacement— as they were re-imagined in performance… intense… riveting. Eric Mayer-García No Passport

Lionel Macauley

Isolte Avila

Angelina Schwammerlin

David Bower

"Carthage/Cartagena" by Caridad Svich

Directed by Goro Osojnik

Full Production Video Available On Request From August 2019

Creative Team - Lionel Macauley Isolte Avila David Bower Angelina Schwammerlin

Artistic Contributors - Beatriz Cabur (early Project Direction) Joke Menssink (Final Dramaturgical Advisor) Pedro De Senna (Advisor & Associate Director)

Development - TheatreLab NYC Middlesex University KIG Graz

Director Goro Osojnik

Photos Turkish National Tour 2018

UK National Tour 2017

Audience Reaction at Oxford Playhouse

Artistic Collaborators

Isolte Avila Dancer, Singer & Choreographer

Cuban born Isolte Avila trained with the Cuban ballet and members of Alvyn Alley Dance Company. She has a degree in Dance from California Institute of the Arts. Isolte managed and developed the Signdance trust from 1987 to 2001. In 2001, she formed SDCI with actor David Bower. Isolte has managed SDCI’s work since 1987 successfully touring internationally, working in association with international organizations and artists. She is a fluent and creative international sign performer, and has worked with SDC tourig the World. She has worked with world renowned choreographers: Milton Myers, Donald Macayle, Ismael Ivo, Carlos Orta, and Ornella Agostino Carovana SMI.Recent work includes – “Broken City Wall Street” with Pop Up Theatrics and “In Between Spaces” with Transmitter Austria.” Carthage is a very important work for me, the relevance and power of the work stands out as a highlight in my career”.

David Bower Actor Dancer Artistic Director David is a director, film artist, dance artist, and actor. He attended Clwyd Youth Theatre and studied mime with Geoff Buckley. He then studied Theatre of the Deaf at Bulmershe College at Reading University. He joined the Basic Theatre Company, played ‘Gary’ in the award-winning production (Edinburgh Fringe First), Gary. He studied the newly created art form Signdance as an apprentice performer at Common Ground Sign Dance theatre. He has toured extensively, performing at major street theatre festivals and theatre festivals in Slovenia, India, Spain, Estonia, Slovakia, Austria, Italy, Turkey, Greece, Holland, India and the USA, In London, with SDC as Prometheus in the Young Vics Production of “Prometheus Bound” .Recent work includes – “Broken City Wall Street” with Pop Up Theatrics and “In Between Spaces” with Transmitter Austria. He is a well know screen actor and had the role of David in the now legendary fiim ‘Four Weddings and A Funeral.’

Lionel M. Macauley Actor Lionel is an African-American Artist from Somerset, New Jersey birthed by Sierra Leonean parents. Lionel has been acting since 2008. He has worked with Beyoncé on her music video "Party" ft. Kanye West and JCole. He performed in a sold out run of "Fences" by August Wilson. Recent Work includes “Broken City” with Pop Up Theatrics “3Fifths Supremacy” an Off Broadway show directed by Tamilla Woodard and “Memories Of Motown” directed by Diane L Parker .He joined the Carthage cast in 2016 and is the youngest member of the company .

Angelina Schwammerlin Composer Lila is a contemporary musician based in Graz in Austria. She is the director of the umbrella organisation, Transmitter Performance. The group is developing contemporary culture projects.. As a sound artist, she creates acoustic patterns & soundscapes using live, recorded, natural & digital elements. In 2006, Angelina finished her scientific work "Music as Expression" (Ways of Communication) and is working on a masters in anthropology. From 2013 to 2016 , She developed the band "Henry-H" The current project, "In between Spaces"with Signdance Collective is peripheral and emotional in both form and lyric. The work questions the dominating standards in a global world. She says "I love developing work that engages different cultures and arts professionals, to have the opportunity to write music and music concepts, especially for Signdance Collective with their accessible way of creating contemporary live performance

Caridad Svich writer received a 2012 OBIE Award for Lifetime Achievement in the theatre, and the 2011 American Theatre Critics Association Primus Prize for her play The House of the Spirits, based on the Isabel Allende novel. She has won the National Latino Playwriting Award (sponsored by Arizona Theatre Company) twice, including in the year 2013 for her play Spark. She has been shortlisted for the PEN Award in Drama four times, including in the year 2012 for her play Magnificent Waste.

Among her key works: 12 Ophelias, Any Place But Here, Alchemy of Desire/Dead-Man’s Blues, Fugitive Pieces, Iphigenia Crash Land Falls on the Neon Shell That Was Once Her Heart (a rave fable), Instructions for Breathing, The Way of Water and the multimedia collaboration The Booth Variations. Her work has been seen at diverse venues across the US and abroad including Denver Center Theatre, Rep Theatre of St. Louis’ Ignite Festival, Mark Taper Theatre Forum New Works Now Festival, 59E59, The Women’s Project, McCarren Park Pool, 7 Stages, Salvage Vanguard, Teatro Mori (Chile), Teatro Circular (Uruguay), Artheater-Cologne, and Edinburgh Fringe. Five of her plays radically re-imagining ancient Greek tragedies are published in Blasted Heavens (Eyecorner Press, University of Denmark). Her works are also published by TCG, Broadway Play Publishing, Playscripts, Arte Publico Press, Smith & Kraus, Alexander Street Press, Stage Reads and more. Among her awards/recognitions are: Harvard University Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Fellowship TCG/Pew Charitable Trusts National Theater Artist Residency at INTAR, NEA/TCG Playwriting Residency at the Mark Taper Theatre Forum Latino Theatre Initiative and a California Arts Council Fellowship. She is founder of NoPassport theatre alliance and press, alumna playwright of New Dramatists, Drama Editor of Asymptote journal of literary translation (, associate editor of Routledge/UK's Contemporary Theatre Review and contributing editor of TheatreForum. She is an entry in the Oxford Encyclopedia of Latino Literature. Website:

Technical Requiments

Minimum performance space: 5M by 5M with minimum height of 4M. We develop our sets so that we can adapt to play larger spaces

There are four performers in Carthage and only four performers travel

We need a minimum of 5 hours technical get in and light and sound preparation for Carthage

Carthage can be adapted and has been performed successfully outdoors (see photos) the show is most successfully performed in the evening (the lighting requirements are different for outdoor shows and are simplified)

length -60 minutes

Signdance Collective International

Requirements for the performance Carthage/Cartagena by Caridad Svich

Minimum performance space: 5M by 5M with a minimum height of 4M. We develop our sets so that we can adapt to play larger spaces.

We need a minimum of 5 hours technical get in for light and sound preparation.

The technician and theatre need to know that one of the performers is profoundly Deaf and the technical get in will be different.

Theatre Performance length - 55 minutes

We need one table which a performer can carry and can stand on safe.

For the lights

* Four ​lights on the floor; if possible two from diagonal downstage and two from diagonally upstage

* diagonal lights from above, two from upstage diagonally and two downstage

* If Possible side lights, three from stage right and three from left; one up, one centre, one foot level

* four to six front lights

No color - all lights open white

We will need someone to operate lights and help with sound

Sound Requirements

The sound for the performance includes live guitar and recorded sound. The guitar is connected to a cable less funk system, which is connected to the "DigiTech" (blue machine on photo).

We need a guitar jack cable (see photo right) which reaches from the "DigiTech" out to your amplifying system. The "DigiTech" will be set on stage right.

We need a sound engineer who sets the volume for the sound at the PA/Mixer/Amplifier.

For questions please contact:

Required Cable For International Touring

We bring this