Whenever I am away from home, I read. Lots. And find that my motivation to create is central. Reading things like:
The Ten Minute Rule: “if work is going well we can sit down and get something good done in ten minutes” and “What I do every day matters more than what i do once in a while” and “we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act but a habit” (Aristotle).
These quotes from “Write it Slant” (Tell It Slant
Miller (and many writers/artists/performers) talk about how we straddle the ‘borderland’ between chaos and order: we create “artistic order out of life’s chaos”. Miller chose her title from an Emily Dickinson poem:
Tell all the Truth but tell it Slant
success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm delight
the Truth’s superb surprise
As Lightening to the Children eased
with explanation kind
the Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind.
So I begin my days reading things like this before I hit the road to be awoken by public art, parklands, bookshops and the obligatory gallery (if the lines aren’t too long). In Omaha the conference was not close to the galleries but it was close to a beautiful parkland where I walked daily.
Pre-Conference: Legislative Theatre
The thing I liked most about the pre-conference were the people involved. We came from all over the world and our jokers (facilitators) were from Brazil (now living in Germany most of the time) and Portugal.
The second thing I liked most was the explanation of TO (Theatre of the Oppressed). This is how it was explained at the workshop and it made good sense to me: that we take a representation of the reality that exists, it is our own opinion of the reality. It is theatre, not reality, and we use word, image and sound to talk about this representation. we are the producers of beauty, of knowledge and of culture. In my representation of the situation, I can exercise the change in order to change the reality.
As per usual in TO, we began with games. These games are fun, simple and my experience was that they created connection among all the participants. We learned each other’s names, we got to know each other’s rhythms and style.
Another wonderful learning, or better to say re-learning and re-emphasis, was the talk about dialogue as opposed to monologue. Throughout the whole conference I became very aware of the monologue and the dialogue. It was most enjoyable when we were in dialogue, which is the basis of TO work. It is what distinguishes it from regular theatre. The audience and the artists (we are all artists together) remain in dialogue with each other and influence each other.
For legislative theatre to work, the participants need several things: desire and necessity to change the situation, to provoke change along with the motivation to change. Necessity is not enough. You need the desire to provoke change in this work.
In the zine 20 Years of Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed (20th PTO Conference June 26-29th 2014
I read the following, and I thought it was relevant to the people back home reading my blog post. Katherine Burke, our current president of PTO wrote this:
SO YOU WANT TO BE A JOKER, KATHERINE BURKE writes
Where to start?
STEP 1: Get people together.
This can be the hardest part! Start with people you know. TO is theatre BY the oppressed, FOR the oppressed. So ti can be helpful if you have a group of peole who are concerned about oppression.
STEP 2: Look in Games for Actors and Non-Actors for some simple, fun games (GAMES FOR ACTORS AND NON ACTORS (PDF)
Katherine then writes “Talk about your experience with the games, try different variations. How are the games metaphors for life? how do they make your body feel? do they alter how you move through the world? do you see or feel things differently after the game?
STEP 3: DECIDE HOW YOU WANT TO CHANGE THE WORLD. Becoming a Joker means that you want to change the world, in small and big ways. Start at home, in your own community. What needs to change?
STEP 4: Tell Stories:
Focus on the problem and tell your stories to each other. one or more of these stories may inspire a Forum Play. for those of you who want to use this in the classroom I\'ve added this link
STEP 5: Create a play
Everyone works together democratically. use Image Theatre to help you find clairyt and potency. rehearse, revise, play, perform.
STEP 6: Share your play
Invite more friends and people concerned about this problem to see your play. Where? Anywhere! in a school, park, church, living room, coffee shop…anywhere people can gather.
STEP 7: PROBLEMATIZE
The work of the joker is to be a Difficultator, not a Facilitator. It is not your job to find the solution but to encourage hard questions.
STEP 8: Get out of the way.
Trust the group. Trust the games. Trust the process. And get out of the way. You don’t have to make it perfect.
THANK YOU KATHERINE BURKE!
TO BE CONTINUED.