Thursday, February 18, 2010

Love, Love, Love: Part 6

Thanks to ATA Blog for making me remember that I haven't finished sharing on this topic.

This post is about Facilitating Challenging Dialogue in the applied theatre, with love.

Here's the background: 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
Find the links to the previous posts here.

Here's my bit on Facilitating Challenging Dialogue...

To engage in true openness, listening, and dialogue to represent love in action, we must risk spaces of discomfort. In examining power and privilege, oppression, marginalization, abuse, violence and other topics, applied theatre work often ventures to places that are uncomfortable for facilitators and participants. As practitioners, we must embrace this space, but maintain its safety.

In “Choosing the Margin as a Space of Radical Openness,” bell hooks identifies the margin as a space for resistance. She notes that the margin is “much more than a site of deprivation…it is also the site of radical possibility.” Yet, embracing marginality may be a space of uneasiness for some—but discomfort can be the most radical place for learning. Dr. Christina Marin of NYU's Educational Theatre Program challenges participants to acknowledge that through discomfort, amazing possibilities can be uncovered:
If you are willing to be uncomfortable, which I believe is one of the best places in which to explore, if you’re willing to, and you don’t try and put the band-aid on it, you don’t try to cover it up, you don’t try and dismiss it and negate it, you don’t try and get past it to get to the comfortable part too quickly. Sometimes we have to sit in that zone of discomfort because that’s where we can examine how we can find the road together.
Michael Rhod (of Sojourn Theatre) points out that it is the facilitator’s responsibility to maintain a safe space throughout discomfort, to “be aware and fiercely observant, proactive, porous, and at the same time recognize that there are some moments that you have to let tumble forward…” When the facilitator is a part of the circle, rather than outside of it, the facilitator demonstrates risk alongside participants. With this courage to risk, facilitators and participants engage in the vulnerable and courageous act of love that McLaren (1997) and Antonia Darder characterize as radical love.

Throughout the applied theatre experience, the facilitator is responsible for creating and maintaining a safe space in concert with participants. The artists’ responsibilities amplify when applied theatre work results in performance where there exist implications with the way we represent the other.

Looking Closely at Harlem Children's Zone

City Limits' March issue takes a little bit more of a critical look at HCZ.