Bizet’s Carmen is a French opera with gypsy girl Carmen at the centre of the story. It takes place in a world run by a totalitarian government with strong military presence, government controlled factories and a vibrant underworld. Looking at today’s London with its 1.5 million CCTV cameras and the “antisocial” laws, how is it to be a young person in this environment? As there are no official numbers recorded by the government any numbers are going to be controversial. A recent study showed that there might be 4.2 million CCTV cameras in England in total and 1.5 million of them in London. This makes London the most watched city in the world. In 2004 the Anti-Social behaviour Act was passed. This gave the police the power to arrest and or prosecute young people who do not conform to socially accepted behaviour, or who “affect the quality of life of individuals”. The Act gives an officer the responsibility of acting appropriately if:
“Any members of the public have been intimidated, alarmed or distressed as a result of the presence or behaviour of groups of two or more”
This could be interpreted to mean that anyone who does not comply with the established social order is an enemy of the state. The questions therefore arise; what message does this send out to young people? How does this affect them? Do you become hostile by living in an environment that is hostile to you? As we could see some similarities between the government of the play and elements of what arises from acts like this, it became apparent that it could be interesting to link the two. Could we maybe use the world of Carmen to comment on what is happening today? From this arose our interpretation of Carmen.

Experiments where conducted to see how it would be possible to convey that the space belonged to the youth characters of the play. It would have to both reflect their culture and be created by them.


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