Blog post #2- Guerrilla Theater (Durland)

Wow…this article really resonated with me. It’s amazing how much of an impact a certain performance can have. This article also drove home a concept that we’ve been talking about in class all along, that ANYTHING can be performance. Just hanging a banner (well I shouldn’t say “just”…these people were hanging banners from places like Mount Rushmore and the Statue of Liberty) can end up affecting so many people and in a way where they actually change their actions (whether it be politicians banning practices that are harmful to the environment or getting everyday people to recycle). What stood out to me more than anything from this article was the philosophy of the Quakers that has influenced Greenpeace. The idea of “bearing witness” is so powerful, requiring that you actually DO something about a situation that bothers you (whether it is to change it or stand by it) instead of just idly sitting on the sidelines, doing nothing. I think the world could be even more of an amazing place if everyone would bear witness.

I noticed an important contrast between this article and Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Durland’s article seems to make it relatively simple for people to take action and cause change. Freire, in my opinion, painted a much more difficult scenario for the oppressed/dehumanized/student to get out of his/her present situation. I especially noticed a contrast between the Greenpeace activists in Durland’s article and the students in Freire’s article. I think both are involved in a “cycle” so to speak. Courtney in class yesterday described the situation of the teacher and the student in the classroom as a never-ending cycle. She talked about how the way the system works is to keep society the same; therefore, there is this whole idea of a cyclical society and Catch-22 situations. I think Durland also paints this idea of a cycle, but in a more positive light. Environmental activists do something, for example. Then it catches the attention of the public. Then people get upset with their local politicians and urge them to make changes in legislation. Then the politicians do because they need their constituents’ support. It will eventually come full circle and the Greenpeace members will act again on something else; they just keep building on the change they’ve already helped create.

Sort of going off this whole cyclical idea, here’s a Liberty Mutual commercial representing the “pay it forward” concept. I think this concept is so important to performing and advocating for change, and if this concept actually completely caught on, I can only imagine all the wonderful changes this world would see.

PS- I know my post is already long and that we only had to talk about one article, but I just wanted to quickly call attention to a beginning line in the Conquergood article: “The paradox is that traditional performance’s historical role is to conserve a culture over time, not to change it.” I hadn’t thought about this before. I wonder when the role of performance began to change?


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