I thought that the aspect of the article when the author is talking about his journey with poetry was particularly interesting because he writes briefly about how you should just write and not take too much time. The idea that you shouldn’t “think of words when you stop but to see picture better.” I feel like this idea allows you to let your mind teach you what you want to say and how you want to express yourself. This relates to a lot of the performance aspects that we use in class–we let our bodies move the way that we feel that they should based on what we are embodying.
I also thought the idea of haiku begin the intersection of complexity and simplicity was interesting. The idea of using a few words to express larger topics and concerns was something I haven’t really thought about too much. I feel like that idea embodies a much larger notion that within simple, straightforward problems exists larger issues.
After reading the article, I find myself relating poetry writing to performance in the context of what we have studied so far. Poetry also allows for personal interpretations that people can develop. If haiku is used for a call to action like many of the work we have looked at this semester, people will respond in many different ways and have many different voices based on responses to that poetry.
In the Pollock reading, I made a connection with the fact that Pollock talks about oral history. Oral history is such an interesting way of passing history on from generation to generation. As a student, I get most of my historical information from a text book or a lecture hall. Oral history is a first hand account–a dialogue from people who truly experienced a moment. I liked how Pollock introduced this as a way to perform for change or for a purpose.
This can directly relate to my performance because I believe that oral history from the voice of those who have experienced a situation is a great way to incorporate real, meaningful experiences into curriculum and into a history classroom. No person can truly know what it is like to walk in another person’s shoes. History professors can be informed of facts but until they receive information from the source, they cannot know what to say to truly evoke a situation or a feeling.
Performance as oral history is an important method of catalyzing social change. Pollock’s method of using the “original” is a great way to start informing people about situations that need real attention in our world.
What I found most interesting about Boal’s article was the way that he described the differentiation of what it means to be oppressed, even within a single place. I thought the relationship of different interpretations of the photography project was most interesting. When asked “Where do you live?” those who answered with photography had such a variety of photos, each of them representing a different answer about what it means to live in Lima. I was most struck by the man who answered that question with a picture of a child’s face who’s watch dog had been taken from him so rats were able to eat his face when he slept. When I think about where I live, I can only think of the positive elements of my home–to read about what that man considered to be the place where he lived was so startling.
Relating the photography to theater, which Boal did quite nicely, lies within the idea that theater and photography are both a type of language. Each can create discourse and liberate a person from what ties them down or oppresses them. The idea that the spectator becomes the protagonist in this theater model can be so freeing for people who are stuck–stuck in the way that they must live because of history and because of other people who make those choices for them. The boy who’s dog was taken, a choice that was completely independent of what the boy wanted or needed, has no choice but to have his face eaten off? How can he show that pain and hurt to others so that they understand? How can his problems and his pain be reflected through different languages? After reading the Boal article, I can see how theater might give that boy and other people who are oppressed in different ways a method of speaking out and making their own choices. I really appreciated what Boal wrote about how theater can be a rehearsal for revolution. People can learn how to communicate their pain and suffering with the hope that when they do call out for change, people will hear them and want to walk beside them.
This article reminds me of a little girl from one of my cabins at camp. She was of lower socioeconomic status and she definitely had trouble fitting in and relating to the other girls in the cabin. She decided to audition for the camp play with some of our other girls, and she got the lead role. She was able, for the first time in two weeks, to express herself. She showed the rest of our girls who she was with her loud voice, and she said that is how her mother talks when they tell stories at home. Storytelling frees her from her troubles, and she found a way to express that to the other girls in our cabin who came from very different places. While I know this is not on the same scale as the problems in Lima, it is an easy comparison to make. The different ways that people communicate and express themselves are so integral in how people understand one another, and it was easy to see that come alive in my camper and in the article from Boal.
I will do the “voices” stanza for my performance and I will begin with the line “Life has written with the pen of centuries.”
Who gets to share what meaning?
As a avid camp-goer (as evidenced by my introductory performance) I am the sharer of many symbols and rituals with my camp family. There is a very unique correlation that exists between people who attend camp and the traditions that survive generations of campers and counselors. The same songs are sung on the first and last nights of camp. We raise a flag in the morning and lower it before the sunset. People wear friendship bracelets. We sail sailboats that have an iconic sunfish logo, recognizable all over the lake by locals and camp veterans. And on the last night, children earn bandanas that are tied around their necks in honor of the hard work that they put in over their time at camp. All of it sounds so cliché and stereotypical to an external party, but to me and to the rest of camp, those symbols touch us in a way that nothing else ever could.
So to me, in my life, symbols and rituals link me to those people who care about the same things as I do. The members of my sorority know the same symbols that I know, the students at my school where I student teach all know the same school wide pledge—these “inner-circle” experiences hold us together like glue. Symbols gain importance through some other sort of meaningfulness. Symbols can relate to monetary value or athleticism (like the nike swoosh) or they can relate to a feeling or emotion (like the way I feel about camp symbols). Either way, people who share symbols are people who find value in the thing that the symbol represents.
Above is a picture of the sailboat that I mentioned. When anyone who hasn’t been to camp sees this, it is simply a sailboat. To those who share the experience of Camp Thunderbird, it means so much more. This sailboat represents the feeling of summertime and best friends and children to me.
From what we have discussed this week, symbols are substitutions of greater meanings. Symbols are all around us, from the UNC logo to the lines on the street, and they stand in for a long history. But to me, the greatest symbols are those that remind me of something larger that has impacted me emotionally.
After reading the guerrilla theater piece, I thought about how that type of performance would relate to what we discussed in class. The way I saw it, most everyone agreed in class that it would be ideal if teachers, as performers, would allow the students to learn through alternate styles of teaching that did not mirror the teacher feeding the student all of the information in a direct instruction model method. While this is ideal, there is a time and a place for all types of teaching. As a pre-service teacher, I see the pressure of mandated standards–I see lists of information that my students are responsible for knowing at the end of the year. Practically, we can’t change such a socialized and deeply embedded institution. But we can change how we teach our students to make movements to change the things that they don’t like about the world. The guerrilla theater piece gave examples of ways to use different gestures to call for change. Is it possible to teach our students to make gestures to change the things that they want to change? And on the most basic level, can we teach them that it is okay to fight for what they believe in? I feel like there is a fundamental notion that children need to be taught what is right and wrong. Children are so innocent. They are able to assess those situations with innocent and unassuming eyes. I don’t really know where I am going with this, but I suppose I am trying to take the reading, a concept so foreign to me, and apply it to my world in a practical way.
Here is an article I found about children doing big things for change:
I guess my big question is can teachers ignite that fire in children to fight for what they believe in and teach them that they have the power to make things happen? Did the children in the article come up with what they are fighting for on their own? Can children shock the world the way that guerrilla performers do? Personally, I think that the vision of a child at a UN environment conference is a shocking display of revolutionary change.
In the Pedagogy of the Oppressed reading, I realized the central question that begs to be answered by the author and then also by the reader: what does it mean to be human? Who are we to judge who is more human than the next person? It is hard to imagine a person with that mentality–a person who feels like they are more human than another person–but it does exist. I found the way that really interesting and strikingly true the way that the author talked about dehumanization and humanization as the variable that drives oppression and injustice. Which makes me wonder what it means to be less “human” than another person? The article went into great depth about the way that people strive to be humanized in a world of oppression; in the context of our class, the idea of being human can cover much more ground. So in shows like the Jersey Shore and the Real Housewives of Orange County–reality shows that display grand displays of sometimes altered realities–are those performances and roles that those characters assume less human than my role as a UNC student? Than the oppressed person struggling for justice? In my opinion, no person in less human than the other. In my opinion, when a person is born into this world they are born with the same rights as the baby across the world that is born in the same moment. But that is not the case, which is the issue.
So if the variable is a person’s humanity, does it mean that people who try to find love on a show like The Bachelor are less human than I am?
That girl may be crazy, but she was born into this world as a human. To dehumanize her is almost by nature inhumane.