Human rights, participatory theatre and regional publics: Acting Alone and A Story to Tell
AffiliationUniversity of Derby
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AbstractThis paper explores how artists are continuing to develop new participatory theatre models that address social and political issues within a human rights arena. Using my productions, Acting Alone and A Story to Tell, as its primary case studies, the paper will examine how efficacy can be created with different community audiences by experimenting with forms of participatory, autobiographical and verbatim theatre. Acting Alone is a monologue performance about Palastinian refugee camps from the perspective of a mother and artist, and A Story to Tell is a verbatim first-hand account of refugees in Greece. Informed by current refugee theatre, theory and practice, this paper asks how artists might use performance to engage audiences in revolutionary thinking in relation to immigration, refugees and human rights issues. Boal’s premise that theatre is a weapon for revolution will be drawn on; however, when audiences may not be directly positioned as oppressed or oppressor, what other concerns are raised? If refugee stories are presented without political advocacy, they run the risk of reenforcing images of refugees as victims and the spectator as voyeur or by-stander. How might we appropriate Boal's work to contemporary western theatre practice to promote engagement with complex international issues and awareness of our shared responsibility towards human rights - in spite of cultural and geographical distance from the issues presented? What action can be taken? Graffiti on the streets of Athens last summer declared: ‘Our grandparents were refugees. Our parents were migrants. We have become racists’ (unknown 2016). How can theatre be a revolutionary voice to address these global and national questions?
CitationHunt, A. (2017) 'Human rights, participatory theatre and regional publics: Acting Alone and A Story to Tell' Presented at the Irish Society for Theatre Research Conference (ISTR), University of Nottingham, 28-29 April.