From its inception a month after the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, Performing the World (PTW) has been international in scope and spirit. Bringing together people from different parts of the world and exposing them to each other’s cultures, worldviews and performance practices has been a fundamental part of what PTW is about. This year, as presenters from 24 countries grapple with the question, “Can We Perform Our Way to Power?,” this internationalism takes on even more significance. PTW 2016 will have presenters from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North and South America. Let’s look at some of the PTW 2016 presenters from Latin America.
Ursula Carrascal-Vizarretta from Peru and Guillermo Terrisoto from Argentina will share their work creating music and dance with children who live in environmentally contaminated areas of Lima and elsewhere. In their workshop “Hope,” they will share the live music and creative processes through which they are empowering children to play and perform in even the most poisonous environments.
From Brazil, Fernanda Liberali and Maria Cecilia Magalhaes, both professors of Applied Linguistics at the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo, will share their experience-amidst the economic development and political turmoil of the last decade-to shake up traditional approaches to primary education by bringing Vygotskian-inspired, performance-based approaches to learning into Brazil’s educational system.
Tom Verner, the founder of Magicians Without Borders, who is based in Vermont, USA, and Carlos Lopez, the founder of The Smiling League, based in Bogota, Colombia, and three young people from Colombia and El Salvador – Esteban Carrillo, Tamara Jimenez and Manicela Medina – will lead a conversation, “Empowering Youth by Performing as an Entrepreneur.” They will share their experiences performing magic on the streets of Bogota and San Salvador and how they were able to turn this playful activity into a means of making a living.
Mexico will be represented by three presentations at PTW. In “Performance as a Tool to Empower Students at the University Level” language professors Maria Guadalupe Talavera, Vilma Zoraida del Carmen Rodriguez Melchor, and Gabriela Scartaascini Spadaroof the Universidad de Guadalajara, will share their use of performance in the classroom to teach language and expand the cultural horizons of their students. Armando Justo, originally from Mexico City, now living in Washington, D.C. where he works for an international development organization, will report on the lives of young adults who are neither employed nor in school and socially isolated. He will share how utilizing a performance-based approach to development can help these young people reinitiate their growth. From Ciudad Juárez, Jorge Buriciaga-Montoya and Miguel Eduardo Cortes-Vasquez, founders of the Fred Newman Center for Social Therapy, will share their working in building relations with other grassroots organizations to bring into being “a community of performance and growth” in the face of the city’s endemic violence.
The next PTW Newsletter will look at some of the presenters coming from Africa.
The call for proposals for the ninth Performing the World gathering – “Can We Perform Our Way To Power?” – casts a wide net. We hoped to reach all kinds of people in all kinds of places whose work addresses the questions, “How is power created?” and “What are the limitations and where are the opportunities for ordinary people to exercise power?”
We were not disappointed. We received proposals from people whose work involves performance as an alternative modality to “knowing” and “authority,” from those who are trying out performatory approaches as an alternative tool for social justice and progressive political change, and from those who address through performance-based practice the social exclusion of particular groups and communities.
PTW 2016 is an opportunity to explore, play with, learn about, and network with these performance activists and-together-share ways that performance can develop individuals and communities and generate power. Over the three days of PTW, September 23-25, there will be plenary sessions, demonstrations, workshops, stage performances and panel discussions – 100 in all from two dozen countries.
This newsletter provides a glimpse of a wide range of topics and types of presentations. Future newsletters will explore particular approaches to and areas of performance activity and research to be presented at PTW 2016.
The Sign Language Theatre Laboratory Ebisu based in Haifa, Israel, led by Atay Citron, has developed a form of visual theatre that is aimed at both the deaf and hearing spectators, thus empowering the deaf community to “speak” across the hearing/deaf border. They will be bringing their first theatrical production, It’s Not About Ebisu, hailed by audiences and critics in Israel, to PTW 2016.
Yuji Moro, Hirose Takumi, and Shuta Kagawa from Tokyo, Japan will look at “Exercising power through changing the mode of exchange.” They describe their participatory research in building a youth development community in Tokyo as a challenge to the assumptions of our getting culture. For them, exchanging goods is not only material transaction; it is also an intercourse of emotionality. They will illustrate the usefulness of the idea of modes of exchange for empowering young people and their adult supporters.
Building a place for young people in Japan
The threat of discrimination and lack of traditional support networks and health care often force LGBT seniors back into the closet at a time when their experience and creativity could be a source of pleasure, vitality and power. Bruce Bierman and Mark Salyer, co-artistic directors of New Stages will share in “New Stages: Creating Theatre For, By and With LGBT Seniors,” how performance and theatre has helped to empower LGBT seniors in Los Angeles and Oakland, California.
My Daddy, a devised theatre piece by Vojislav Arsic, Milena Bogavac and Ivan Stoljjlkovic, of Belgrade, Serbia, explores what the performers’ fathers did during the civil war that destroyed Yugoslavia in the 1990s and how that history has impacted emotionally and politically on the next generation. In exploring their very personal relations with their fathers, the performers open up questions of history and power and how one moves on and grows when your country is dissolving around you.
Ka Kalanyane-Kesupile from Botswana poses the question, “What does it look, sound or feel like to be Queer in Africa today?” The session portrays the experiences of indigenous Sub-Saharan Queer livelihoods – the injustices, abuses, milestones and triumphs that the international community struggles to understand.
The PTW International Organizing Committee is raising travel funds. Please visit their Indiegogo page, make a contribution, and spread the word to help them reach their goal.