Oral History

When reading Della Pollock’s Oral History Performance, the point that stuck out to me most was regarded the way performance evokes real possibilities.  Oral history performances come from the remembrance of witnesses and/or audience members who have experienced (told or taken part in) historical events.  Pollock explains this phenomenon as “the peculiar temporality of the representational real: an engine embedded in historical time, it invokes the beyond time of possibility, making possibility real or at least staking the grounds of real possibilities” (7).  This point can be broken down into a chain reaction.  A historical event leads to performances which then results in possibilities for the future.  The article gives the example of a small southern town shifting from the historically segregated past to the desegregated future.

This also reminds me of the Boal reading from last week.  The prisoners performed their personal stories for an audience.  The performances evoked a new understanding of the potential and possibilities these inmates had for their future.

A current event that we have been talking about a lot in class is the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations.  This event ties into the reading and the major point of performances evoking real possibilities.  The historical event is tagged as the corporate greed, economic inequality, and corruption of the government.  The protestors of Wall Street which have also spread to many other occupiers across the country represent the performances.  From these performances, the occupiers are hoping to see change and possibility for the future.

This video gives a glimpse of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations and what they are doing in hopes to change the future.  One point of the video shows a sign that says “The Beginning is Near” which I think ties closely to the idea that performance creates possibilities.

I really enjoyed Boal’s article about human rights.  I thought it was very interesting and eye-opening the way he connected human rights and humanization to theatrical performance.  My favorite example that he gave was the performances given by the prisoners and the prison guards.  Prisoners are extremely dehumanized and very rarely are able to tell their story.  The article made me realize how important it is to never judge someone at first glance because we are all humans and deserve to be respected no matter what.


Since it is Halloween I decided to include this video of how prisoners are giving back to the community and also making something of themselves while still being locked behind bars.  They grew pumpkins on the prison grounds and gave them to special needs children which I thought to be very touching.

“In Theatre of the Oppressed, reality is shown not only as it is, but also more importantly, as it could be”(6).  I really enjoyed this quotation that was included in the article because it describes a group of people in which most would degrade and think little of (prisoners) in their highest potential.  What reality is now certainly does not have to be the future reality and through performance we can reach that potential reality.  Performance is a great way to reach that potential reality because it allows people to be heard.

Organizing for Social Change

I found our readings to be very interesting and eye-opening.  When reading about the dialectic tensions that are apparent, it became very apparent that organizing for social change is no easy task.  Out of the four dialectic tensions that were discussed (control and emancipation, oppression and empowerment, dissemination and dialogue, fragmentation and unity) I found fragmentation and unity to be most intriguing.  It is obvious that coming together and forming a group is much more impacting than trying to change something on your own, however, forming unity amongst similar people is extremely challenging.  “Fragmentation occurs when there are multiple voices and interpretation present in a community” (59). When people are trying to join together to make a change, tension often arises when these people do not agree.

Olympia, Washington is a community that works to organize diversified and positive educational events for those that make up the town.  Members of the community created an association called “Unity in the Community” in order to make a change in Olympia.  Olympia has had a history of racism and discrimination.  This group was formed after a racially driven murder occurred in the early 1990’s and has worked hard to produce change since this incident.   I think this is a great example of how a community can create unity amongst each other in order to see change occur.

This is the website to Unity in the Community: http://www.olympiaunityinthecommunity.org/index.html

Performance as Action

I thought the reading of The Guerrilla of Greenpeace was a very interesting and eye opening article.  The last line, “creating images that have an impact on people’s lives,” really stood out to me and captures the entire purpose of the reading.  I have never thought of an image as being necessarily life changing, however, Steven Durland explains many examples of the Greenpeace’s activist demonstrations in which images speaks volumes.  The Greenpeace organization has been so successful in being heard and making changes because of the performances they put on.  The actual performance by Greenpeace calls attention to them which then allows their message to be heard by millions.

The image below represents one of the Greenpeace’s performances.  This particular performance was in protest of nuclear power at the Unterweser nuclear power station in Germany.  They painted a skull on the dome and hung banners that said “Nuclear power damages Germany.”  The extremely risky performance by these Greenpeace members is what gained attention for them which allowed their message to be heard my millions.

Pedagogy of the Oppressed

I thought that this reading was very insightful and brought up some great points of reality that I have never thought about.  One of the points that he brought up that really stood out to me was his relationship between a teacher and student.  He compares the teacher to a “narrating subject” and the student to a “listening object”.  In class this week, we talked about the relationship between a teacher and student was dialectic, however, in the reading the students take up the label of being oppressed while the teachers are dong the oppressing.  This brings me to the question of, are students really being dehumanized in the classroom by teachers when they are only doing their job to educate young students?  Are students really just being fed facts without learning the full spectrum of what those facts actually mean?  If so, then how can we change this system and allow students to participate more in their education.  And lastly, how can we change this world that is full of the oppressed and the oppressor?

Before I even read about this picture that I have posted below, It struck my eye as being a great representation of a teacher playing the role of the oppressor and the students playing the role of the oppressed.  There are so many students packed in this classroom all doing the exact same thing.  I feel as though no student would be able to get their own voice heard in a class like this.  I then read about this picture and it actually came from a movie called The Wave in which a teacher tried an experiment to show his students what life would be like under a dictatorship.  Apparently the experiment went wrong and the class formed into a social unit.