Sunday, December 20, 2009

Love, Love, Love: Part 5

It's been about two months. But here's Part 5. In Part 4, I started exploring the first connection I saw between radical love and applied theatre: Courage, Envisioning and Imagining Change.

Just a re-cap on the last four installments: First, I rambled about the question of love and teaching, dove into Freire's concept of radical love, and got together a background on applied theatre. I've tried to sum it up by making connections between radical love and applied theatre in four areas:
So, this post is about Community Work in the applied theatre. How is community work practiced with love?

How do we create a hope of what can be in communion with others? How can we, as educators or teaching artists approach and work in community with new groups? Freire (2000) maintains that educators must enact this work with dialogue as the foundation.

A loving approach to community work requires an immense amount of self-awareness, reflection and openness. Michael Rohd, of Sojourn Theatre, offers,
one way to talk about love is with the generosity of spirit and humility that one has to enter any space or community or circle that you’ve been invited to. If you approach something with any interest to consciously or subconsciously manifest power, be in control or own something, then you are operating out of greed or fear. I think that love becomes a powerful way to attempt to move beyond your own greed and fear and think about what you can give and receive. It’s incredibly challenging to enter situations with love. You have to work to love. (personal communication, April 9, 2009)
Approaching an applied theatre residency without an agenda and with openness requires true listening and humility, both of which lead to and require genuine love. In conversations and literature about love, listening is often referenced. The listening that is required when first engaging and approaching unfamiliar communities is not a one-time occurrence.

Anne Bogart (2007) discusses the importance of attentiveness and listening in the work of directors and actors. She posits, “The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnified world in itself.” In looking, listening, and feeling with attentiveness we deeply appreciate others. Henry Miller offers,
The one gift we can give another human being is our attention, and that attention, in turn, allows the possibility of change. We can be available and open to their change. Which means concurrently that we will change too. The gift we give is not to hold on to some way we have decided that this person is. Perhaps this gift of attention is also a gift of love. (as cited in Bogart, 2007, p 60-61)
Dialogue in an applied theatre setting---be it verbal or non-verbal (image theatre, etc.)—must be approached with this attentiveness. Rohd notes that dialogue occurs when participants are truly open to change; change is not a neccesary outcome, but must exists a genuine possibility for transformation (personal communication, April 9, 2009). The applied theatre space must create a context in which this openness and potential for transformation can take place.

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