Saturday, September 12, 2009

Love, Love, Love: Part 3

Before delving more into the connections between radical love and applied theatre, I thought it was important examine the background of the applied theatre. (Part 1 is here, and Part 2 is here.)

Applied theatre engages participants in critical reflection on their society, their relationships, or their communities and poses problems and explores solutions (Taylor, 2003). It activates human consciousness through participation and observation, rather than observation alone (Taylor, 2003; Boal, 1985). Philip Taylor (2003) argues, “the applied theatre operates from a central transformative principle” (p. 1). Within these explorations and dialogue, theatre is the language that is utilized (Taylor, 2003).

Augusto Boal (1985) adapted Freire’s pedagogy into the theatrical space with the creation of Forum Theatre, a dialogical and participatory form of theatre in which the typical audience is transformed from spectators to participants or “spect-actors.” In his book Games for Actors and Non-Actors, Boal (2002) offers his concept of theatre:
in its most archaic sense, theatre is the capacity possessed by human beings—and not by animals—to observe themselves in action. Humans are capable of seeing themselves in the act of seeing, of thinking their emotions, of being moved by their thoughts. They can see themselves here and imagine themselves there; they can see themselves today and imagine themselves tomorrow. (p. 11)
Theatre, in this sense, is tied to action, reflection, and imagination.
Boal (2002) claims, “To identify is to be able not only to recognise within the same repetitive context but also to extrapolate to other contexts; to see beyond what the eye sees, to hear beyond what the ear hears, to feel beyond what touches the skin, to think beyond what words mean” (p. 12). Applied theatre as a human activity of identification means thorough examination, thinking beyond current patterns, breaking those patterns, and exploring new ones (Taylor, 2003; Nicholson, 2005; Boal, 2002).

Applied theatre practice often takes place within marginalized and oppressed communities and untraditional spaces such as prisons, hospitals, and other community centers (Rohd, 1998; Taylor, 2003; Nicholson, 2005; Boal, 1985). Because the work takes place in such a range of settings, artists often work with communities of which they are not a part. Consequently, it is important that artists explore the dynamic of insider/outsider and respect for the community within which they are working (Cohen-Cruz, 2005), harkening back to Freire’s (2000) concept of genuine dialogue and opening up the self to the other.

Radical Love in the Applied Theatre Space

To explore the concept of radical love in the applied theatre space, I reached out to other practitioners and continued to review applicable literature in the field of education and theatre. I have organized these thoughts into four that struck me:

• Courage, Envisioning and Imagining Change
• Community Work
• Facilitating Challenging Dialogue
• Representation of the Other

Resources to check out:

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