Approaching the Essay for ‘Participatory Theatre’

Writing up some quotes earlier tonight, I was struck by a really great framework for approaching your essays for Site-specific, Street and Event Theatre.

In his “blueprint for action” Fire on the Water, John Fox praises participatory and celebratory forms of theatre, such as event theatre, site-specific theatre, and street theatre, as they aim to enrich people’s lives by:

giving theatre back to the people at large and inviting them to practice it as a form of ritual, communication, expression, celebration, entertainment and comment. (p. 4)

I suggest that you come up with examples for each of these SIX practices: ritual, communication, expression, celebration, entertainment and comment.

Then, depending on the question on the day, you can choose anywhere from three to all six of these aspects to write about.

For example, with the essay question you were given in class last week (‘Festivity and fun are more important than social and political goals in site-specific, street and event theatre.’ Discuss this statement in relation to the work of the performance makers you have studied, and your own experience.)  I might have four BODY PARAGRAPHS based on the following practices/aims:

Paragrpah 1: expression and entertainment (discuss how important fun and festivity is to people’s lives.  Describe and discuss example/s)

Paragraph 2: ritual and celebration (discuss festive and fun practices that go beyond entertainment, and also carry an important social and symbolic meaning in people’s lives)

Paragraph 3: communication (begin to show how, if participatory and celebratory theatre forms can communicate to the audience more closely through audience involvement, and breaking down the status/power relationship between ‘actor’ and ‘audience’, they can communicate a more powerful and lasting message)

Paragraph 4: comment (argue that the artistic and social goals of community based theatre are inherantly political, as it is founded on principles of participation, equity, community, emotional and spiritual growth over material wealth, and environmental sustainability)

Thoughts??

Essay Homework: Due Friday 14th August

This afternoon in our study group we looked at the past HSC questions for the Drama (theory) exam and discussed how we would approach each of them.  You too can look up all of the past HSC exams (and the examiners reports) yourself on the Board of Studies website.

This is the question that we decided to answer by the end of the study lesson:

‘Festivity and fun are more important than social and political goals in site-specific, street and event theatre.’

Discuss this statement in relation to the work of the performance makers you have studied, and your own experience.

Full essay answers to this question are DUE ON FRIDAY in class.  If you aren’t at school on Friday (firstly, why? Jyoti I’m looking at you!), please hand this in early, or email it to me.

dPod off to a great start!

It was great to see both groups draw a big crowd for their street theatre on Friday.  The boys got the bigger crowd, and got them chanting along and cheering at some key points, but the girls got their audience more directly involved, by inviting them to choose the direction of the performance.  The girls took bigger risks…and both groups needed to put more thought into how they were going to ‘end’ the performance!

Being in the audience I heard a number of responses.  Some people were really into the operformances, trying to follow the storyline.  Some were pushing to the front to get involved.  Others were too busy talking to friends, or could not hear because of the wind, so weren’t sure what was happening!  But overall what they all had in common was that they were excited that something out of the ordinary was happening.  They were entertained…confused, at times, but definitely entertained!

Add a comment and tell us what you thought of the dPod performances?  Be sure to balance your warm and cool feedback.  We will get a chance to do this again next term.  What could be improved for next time?