Years ago i read about popular theatre as developed by Augusto Boal, Brazilian dramatist. I learned about Boal, and I learned about other’s as well but he stood out.
The concept is theatre is used to show, a story- the main oppressive story, usually in random locations, where others would not even suspect it was theatre. Then truths are unveiled in the the theatrical performance. So where ever you are you could use that theatre to share a message based on mirroring that issue as well as solution, esp in the case of liberation, and to express that story, by using the platform of theatre.
The point to develop dialogue b.w the audience and performer, which I think could be useful in so many ways, Problem solving, highlight feelings where difficult topics exist, building trust, building relationships, sharing stories, etc.
Why this came to mind? Maybe more opportunity to do random theatre of the oppressed in my work? Maybe, this live action would also help those experiencing stories that are need light and life, a place. This could apply to numerous situations and themes. Theatre can be brought in to expose stories, in any context really. Maybe we should all be doing more theatre? Maybe it could teach us something.
One of my fav. classes which I think of often is a theatre class i took in university. In fact, I took two one year, one mainstream and one Indigenous that were both in theatre. Both professors amazing. The mainstream professor Steve, was this very relaxed professor., I feel he used to come in from the University of Toronto to Peterborough. The Indigenous theatre class was led by Edna Manitowabi
, a professor I admired so much in university who had so much to share and add to my life. I remember her expressions in theatre, her singing and her gifts that she share with me, and that recently she was also featured in Indian Horse
. She looks so amazing in her role in the movie, I have to still see it.
I also took theatre in high school and was never a super brave actress, in fact, often did sideline stuff. I never was featured in the main stories. Did I ever want to? Maybe if there was content that I related to. In high school I was more of the student who was trying to figure out things especially in relation to social injustice? I’d be worried about climate change, war, environmental themes, other major themes. I realized I was pretty empathic to concerns at a young age, in fact, I felt things deep. It was art that gave me that space to express those feelings: I would find myself in literature as well. Characters. Stories. The main point is theatre was a good energy in my life.
When I took theatre training in university, Steve would get us all moving immediately. Our class was set in this very amazing theatre space in downtown Peterborough, not your usual sitting lecture style. (Can I tell you how bored I was in sit down lecture style classes of 200 students, can I say nap History 101) When in Steve’s class, he’d come in he’d be doing various interesting activities. We’d be encouraged to be barefoot, feel the stage, move around to various tempos, as part of the warming up activities. The two hours we spend together weekly was always intriguing, and upbeat. It was engaging and interesting in a deeper way of thinking, I had not experienced in any of my learning. We’d take our theatre with us whoever we went. We’d find spaces to do our theatre in the city, which was not that big, but exciting nontheless. Theatre was like a saving grace to act out and experience life differently. For Edna’s class, we were in a room on the main campus. It was a different experience, and also a place where I felt transformation and good vibes. We’d experience many stories together. I was truly honoured to have those experiences.
Steve and Edna were such intriguing professors, much like healers. I had a friend who I took this with and it was really important as we took the class very seriously. We used drama in a different way maybe to act out and express the harder topics we contended with around racism, as well. Theatre helped me like no other b/c I was assaulted in my second year of university and being a survivor of that, was a super hard and impactful so the theatre helped to gain confidence again, and find that creative vibe, feeling supported, good vibe, healing type learning program etc. Theatre most definitely was my healer and something I think is and should be a part of my daily life.
Theatre is interesting for healing purposes because it takes your creative story, and moves it into something alive, three dimensional. I think healing is something that transcends onto all corner of our lives. We can feel stuck at times but we have to remember things that worked for us. Sometimes too we get stuck, we get pigeon holed, we get placed, in the narrative of the other. Removing yourself from that place is important.
I am glad I had the theatre thought this morning. Its made me remember how much theatre has been an old friend.
Incorporating theatre into my work, would be an ideal concept. often wonder how I could use theatre in my current practice? Is there a way? How could I. How could popular theatre help to discuss bigger narratives that we see and deal with? How much of me, would benefit from theatre again? Is theatre a shift I need in my life as much as something I can use to help support others. Maybe time for me to explore theatre again. here are some theatre links and I will also upload them to the resources on this page. Theatre though, so much about the audiences and population you work with as to how effective theatre can be. Theatre for me was a place that helped me facilitate deep discussion on topics, or helped me to learn more deeply. I’d hope to one day be able to do that work in a cool studio or lecture hall. Learning is never about just sitting there.
“The stage is a magic circle where only the most real things happen, a neutral territory outside the jurisdiction of Fate where stars may be crossed with impunity. A truer and more real place does not exist in all the universe.”
― P.S. Baber
, Cassie Draws the Universe
“I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.”
― Oscar Wilde