ArtsPraxis, Volume 5 Issue 2

The cover image for Arts Praxis Volume 5 Issue 2, 2019, is from a keynote presentation in which the words "all theatre is political" were crossed out - in an attempt to provoke conversation, which is the shared aim of this issue.

ArtsPraxis Volume 5 Issue 2 has been published.

Last April, at the 15th annual Forum: Performance as Activism, I was heartened to meet practitioners, artists, educators and scholars from around the globe who were enthusiastically engaged in using the art form of theatre to address pressing social and cultural issues. This edition of ArtsPraxis includes fourteen inspiring and pertinent articles that report on activist theories and practices that have been initiated, explored and successfully implemented in communities and classrooms.

At the Forum, we asked, “How is activism defined or redefined in 2018?” Through panel discussions, workshops, performances and paper presentations we explored how activism can disrupt, subvert and transform dominant social and political narratives. More than sixty presenters from twelve different countries relayed inspirational and revelatory methods towards the goal of promoting enduring social change through aesthetic expression. In this global space of open dialogue and exchange, we, as activists learned about organizational methods, pedagogical tools, aesthetic devices that, in responding to the complexities of our time, push past boundaries and binaries to redefine cultural innovation.

I hope that you will be inspired by the following theories and practices offered in this volume, ranging from the metamodern to dialogical activism to personal resilience, and surrounded by artistic innovation.

This issue of ArtsPraxis is available for download.

Editorial – NANCY SMITHNER

NYU Keynote – PING CHONG

Deaf Talent: Richness within Our Stories by James W. Guido – JAMES W. GUIDO

Ximonïk: The Unbound Performances of Maya Women’s Group Ajchowen – CHELSEA HACKETT

Hope with Dirty Hands: Community Theatre Participation as Activism in Everything is Possible – BRIDGET FOREMAN

Energize, Resist, Re-Purpose: An American Theatre Responds – PENELOPE COLE

From the School to the Educating Community: Practices of Social Theatre in Italy as a New Form of Activism – GIULIA INNOCENTI MALINI

Leaping into the Disassociated Space: Unknowing Activism, Agency and Youth Identity in “Notes From Nowhere” – GUSTAVE WELTSEK and CLARE HAMMOOR; ILLUSTRATIONS BY KYLIE WALLS

Students as Arts Activists: Insights and Analysis from a Politically Engaged Assessment – MATTHEW REASON

Inciting Solidarity through Plural Performativity and Pedagogical Aesthetics in Ethnodrama with Marginalized Youth in Toronto – RACHEL RHOADES

Beyond the Wall: Borderland Identity through Puppets – ANA DIAZ BARRIGA

The Aesthetics of Activism in Korea: The Utopian Performative and Communitas – JISUN KIM

A Silent Shout: Metamodern Forms of Activism in Contemporary Performance by Tom Drayton – TOM DRAYTON

“It Did Get Rid of the ‘These People Are Old People’ Thing in My Brain”: Challenging the Otherness of Old Age through One-to-One Performance – BRIDIE MOORE

Inday Dolls: Body Monologues and Lullabies for Freedom in Prison; Scripting Possible Futures in Justice Art in Iloilo’s Correctional System – MA ROSALIE ABETO ZERRUDO and DENNIS D. GUPA

Media Practice and Theatre in Conversation: Co-Creating Narratives for Positive Social Change – JACKIE KAULI and VERENA THOMAS

Vibrant, Profound Love: Looking for Shakespeare 2016

By: Dr. Nan Smithner

This summer the Program in Educational Theatre presented Looking for Shakespeare’s 2016 production of Romeo and Juliet. I was fortunate to be the director of an ensemble of 19 excellent young people, 13 dynamic NYU graduate students and a robust and stellar creative and production team of light, set, costume and designers, stage managers, fight choreographer, hip hop dance instructor, dramaturg and assistant director/producer.

We explored universal themes of love, conflict, family, identity and fate, which resonate as strongly in 2016 as they did in 1596. Our play was set in the 1990’s, a time of existential crisis that foreshadowed the 21st century and formed a bridge between new and old ways of thinking and living. It was a decade of jarring, sometimes incongruous events, including the ripening of the technological revolution and a new global awareness, and also foreshadowing explosions of national trauma and cultural conflict. As an ensemble, we lived through and discussed the turbulence of our present day times, as, in a few short weeks, the students delved into the complexities of Shakespeare’s language.

We framed our play in a hip hop world that explored discord, tension and opposition, and also embraced joy, hope, passion and knowledge.  It was truly an ensemble effort as astute graduate students worked in depth — coaching language, acting and physical expression, as did the incredible dramaturg and perceptive assistant director. Students made visual art that was on display in the lobby, and wrote original poetry and performed songs about love in the pre-show and intermission. It was indeed an honor for me to work with such an inspiring and vibrant group this summer, to produce a profound show full of humor, tragedy, and above all, expressing the overarching importance of love.

A group picture of the production team

A group picture of the stellar production team for Looking for Shakespeare 2016, left to right: Steve Hart, Fight Choreographer; Nan Smithner, Director; Anthony Montes, Assistant Stage Manager; Lily deButts, Production Stage Manager; Ashley Thaxton, Dramaturg; Robert Stevenson, Producer/Assistant Director