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Written on January 28th, 2013 , Arts in Community, Plays, Theatre for Social Change Tags: ,
Kids play wrighting!

Playwrighting: from the words “play” and “wright”.

Play: (2) brisk, lively activity involving change, variation, transition, or alternation: dynamic action; (3) the representation or exhibition of some action or story on the stage or in some other medium.

Wright: (1) to create, shape or a person who does so, usually in wood in combination (shipwright); (2) to work into shape by artistry or effort; (3) to fashion with particular adherence to form or style.

This blog is about the importance and deep intrinsic value of grassroots activism and advocacy. Yes, I am a blogger for Arts & Culture, so yes, I am going to strongly encourage people to engage in the arts in their acts of empowering, enlightening, and advocating (to act is to act!).

In that vein, please take a minute to give your support to Rabble.ca. In a world where big news is toorabble.ca often prewritten and the important stuff is ‘below the fold’, Rabble continually interviews real people in real crises or in real celebrations. Rabble is holding their annual winter donation drive to keep rabble.ca going, and any donation amount makes a difference. Check out this blog about donating or go directly to the donation page.

Rabble also believes in the kind of work I do….including the awesome empowering activistic (yes I made that word up) process of PlayWRIGHTING.

The arts are in effect the Rosetta Stone for transition, possessing both ontological and technical knowing. rosetta stoneThey also require, within a ‘safe’ environment, a process approach that really works only when the group is in ever self-shifting occasions with attention expressly paid to “ecological grounding”: “From the viewpoint of process, the more fundamental issue is one of seeing aesthetic experience within a broader construction of the way we apprehend the fullness of our daily lives. It is not simply” another perspective.” It is a deeper perspective which should bring together many facets of experience into a coherent and multifaceted apprehension of the world (Oliver, 1989).”

Woohoo! How, then, do we move into new modalities and realms of perception and operation? Often what happens is that someone will be thinking or reflecting and be startled by an incongruous event or image. In this jolt of the “kaleidoscope” of reality and perception, ideas can be reconfigured. The opportunity arises for a glimpse into something new, a haunting, almost sensed vision which, no matter how brief, sets in motion a deeper questioning process.

So, part of what we are seeking is theatre that is not just ‘for the people’ (with regard to the lives of whatever cross-section of community will be involved in the project) nor even theatre that is what many call “of and for the people”, namely that the performers and producers are from that same cross-section. Indeed, we are seeking a production that not only is written/created by the community members themselves, but that the framework, the ideology, the way the ideas are pieced together, what form they take, and the literal and metaphorical nature of their content all arise out of the indigenous collective spirit.

This work is intended for community leaders, teachers, development directors, church groups, activitykids' piece about chaos center leaders and anybody else who decides to set out on the difficult but magical journey to create/write a powerful and moving play that truly belongs to and sings the spirit of the people who created the play. This process is not really the same as playwriting because it involves a great deal of creating without pen and paper. It is also not quite the same as ‘playbuilding’ because it does involve writing exercises; it fits in well within a school curriculum, an ‘English as a Second Language’ program, any literacy organization or community group that has a focus or at least an eye toward literacy as one of the means to social power (and by that I mean not merely the ability to read and write, but the ability to read between the lines and write compellingly). ‘Playbuilding’ is used to describe several exciting processes that use structured improvisation as the performance style. There are at least three excellent books on playbuilding: “Playbuilding” by Errol Bray, “Building Plays” by Michaels and Tarrington, and “Theatre, Dialogue and Community: The Hope is Vital Training Manual” by Michael Rohd.

I hope this little teaser at least intrigues you…as you think about the importance of Advocacy and Action! Some specifics next week, or feel free to contact me. And remember— please support rabble.ca!

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