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Devoted & Disgruntled 12: What Shall We Do About Theatre and the Performing Arts Now?

Comforting the afflicted is great, but where is the art that afflicts the comfortable? (raw notes)

Jacob Harmon - 1 February 2017

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Comforting the afflicted is great, but where is the art that afflicts the comfortable?

Doesn't creating space for the afflicted afflict the comfortable anyway?

Who are the afflicted?

Where is the art that challenges neo-liberal structures?

Liberalism has been co-opted by power.

It's a “win” to support inclusiveness without challenging deeper issues. It's a PR coup and it diverts attention.

“Othering” of people who are less concerned with political correctness.

Can you ever really afflict the comfortable?

-Not if you want them to fund you.(hoho)

“The rich know only fear and confidence”

Organising people to challenge the comfortable (agit-prop)

Yong Jun Lee “straight white men”
-A straight white man gives away his power (this was uncomfortable for the audience to watch.)

“The shipment” by YJL also is interesting…

Afflicting your comfortable audience. - who is your audience?

Provide an experience for your audience, not just something to look at. An experience which is uncomfortable might be -
-Non-rational
-provoking
-experiential
-outrageous

(dadaism)

Is everything that bad? Aren't things really getting better? “Better Angels of our Nature” by Stephen Pinker

“Democracy is dead” (my words here for the idea that what we vote for doesn't matter and the elites rule - we all agreed this was true.)

Providing space on stage for “the other” those who are afflicted. Refugees, sex workers, oppressed.

(a pro trump, pro Brexit play?)

Intentional mis-selling - surprise your audience, lure them into thinking things will be comfortable then discomfort them.

Taking the afflicted into public spaces.

Festivals create barriers to things that “people don't want to see”.

-death, shame, disgust (“Parade of the Horribles” by Mish Weaver(present), she found festivals didn't want it.)

(think of the children)

“November” Spanish street theatre

(bypass audience consent, organisers, funders by going straight to the street)

We are trapped by funding / permissions.

The “gift” of trump. He breaks the rules, he doesn't ask for permission, why don't we do that.

Has Trump ruined satire? “Phlogiston Monkey” political satire by Jacob Harmon(present) & Chris Hinton.

There is no such thing as “truth” any more, only lived experience.

The artists job is to create space for conversation.

A political mover/shaker said: If you want to affect people hire a physicist / statistician not a PR guy. Get the numbers on your side.

Post truth is wrong, it's post fact.

There is a truth in the community that elites fail to see.

(example: climate truth “It's cold right now, global warming isn't happening, I don't care how many facts you have)

The lived experience of the working class is quite different to the lived experience of the middle class.

Grow empathy, reduce fundamentalism.

“Sojourn” 2 plays in different spaces come together to meet, they become particcipants, actors, not just an audience.

“Shunt” a split audience that were revealed to each other during the play.

Bringing “others” together.

Where does art meet activism?

The Occupy movement tried theatre, but people said it was rubbish (they weren't professionals).

Art is propaganda, this was dangerous for occupy, there was a sense of a closing of space.

What does “better” look like, we can't agree.

Reactionaries can appeal to an imagined past that everyone understands. We can't do that, we must imagine a future.

Unethical isn't unlawful. We can push boundaries.

-how to create an “ethical” play (labour, materials sourcing)

Being “ethical” is a tax.

Be a hypocrite.

Tell people about the struggle to create ethically.

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