Tuesday, 28 February 2012

How do we avoid stereotypes in political theatre?


Convener: Eve Leigh

Participants: Dan Bye, Kieran Hurley, Valentina Zagaria, Pascal Porcheron, Nir Paldi, Mark?, about a dozen others over the course of two-and-a-half hours (!).

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:
Sometimes, as in clowning or traditional British comedy, stereotypes are useful and fun – it just depends on who’s being stereotyped. It’s important for theatre practitioners to continually check their assumptions about characters against stereotypes or traditional matrices of power. We heard stories about successful pieces of political theatre – most of them seemed to involve engaging directly with the landscapes or populations that were both their subjects and audiences. This raised questions about authenticity – if privileged people make theatre about marginalized people, are they crowding out the possibility of marginalized people telling their own stories? Are they likely to regurgitate clich├ęs rather than producing compelling original work? But on the other hand, if we’re all confined to making work about our firsthand experience, isn’t that boring and limiting? Doesn’t that negate the power of empathy in theatre? The conclusion we seemed to come to was that making theatre outside one’s own experience requires vigilant assumption-checking and dedicated research.

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