Engaging Performance: Theatre as Call and Response presents a combined analysis and workbook to examine "socially engaged performance." It offers a range of key practical approaches, exercises, and principles for using performance to engage in a variety of social and artistic projects. Author
Jan Cohen-Cruz draws on a career of groundbreaking research and work within the fields of political, applied, and community theatre to explore the impact of how differing genres of theatre respond to social "calls."
Areas highlighted include:
- playwrighting and the engaged artist
- theatre of the oppressed
- performance as testimonial
- the place of engaged art in cultural organizing
- the use of local resources in engaged art
- revitalizing cities and neighborhoods through engaged performance
- training of the engaged artist.
Cohen-Cruz also draws on the work of major theoreticians, including Bertolt Brecht, Augusto Boal, and Doreen Massey, as well as analyzing in-depth case studies of the work of US practitioners today to illustrate engaged performance in action.
Jan Cohen-Cruz is director of Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life. She is the author of Local Acts: Community-based Performance in the US; the editor of Radical Street Performance; co-editor, with Mady Schutzman, of Playing Boal: Theatre, Therapy, Activism and A Boal Companion; and a University Professor at Syracuse University.
Table of Contents
Introduction Kinship among Engaged Performance Practices Purposes for Writing this Book Book Organization: Centers of Gravity of Engaged Performance Chapter 1. Playwrighting: Putting Plays to Use 1.1 Brecht’s Intellectually Active Spectator 1.2Kushner’s Magical Epic Theatre Angels in the Context of a Social Movement The Post-Social Movement Life of Angels 1.3 Community-Informed Adaptations 1.4 The Unfaithful Disciple 1.5 Workbook: Situating Plays for Social Engagement Chapter 2. Specta(c)ting: Theatre of the Oppressed, Orthodoxy and Adaptation 2.1 The System of Theatre of the Oppressed 2.2 Adapting Boal 2.3 Semi-Invisible Theatre: Magic That Mystifies and Reveals 2.4 The Joker System as Pedagogy and Performance 2.5 The Spirit of Boal in the Bronx 2.6 Activating the Specta(c)tor 2.7 Workbook: Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed Techniques Ch 3. Self-Representing: Testimonial Performance 3.1 Social Call, Cultural Response 3.2 The Testimonial Process 3.3 Cultural Democracy and Self-Representation 3.4 home land security as a Testimonial Performance 3.5 From Self-Representation to Community Action 3.6 Workbook: Interviewing and Story Circles Ch 4. Cultural Organizing: Multiple Modes of Communication 4.1 Creating Cultural Organizing Tools 4.2 Theorizing Culture as Political Strategy 4.3 Integrating Artists and Activists 4.4 Workbook: The Creation of Scripts from Stories and Interviews Ch 5. Gathering Assets: the Art of Local Resources 5.1 The Choice: Top Down or Bottom Up 5.2 Social Capital and Asset-Based Community Organizing 5.3 The Youth Theatre Workshop: Adapting Method to Context 5.4 The Art of Cultural Resources 5.5 Workbook: Facilitating Theatre Workshops Ch 6. Particularizing Place: Revitalizing Cities and Neighborhoods 6.1 Revitalizing Downtowns 6.2 The Urban Video Project 6.3 Towards a Participatory Performance Spectacle 6.4 Revitalizing Urban Neighborhoods 6.5 Efforts to Create an Arts District 6.6 Art and Community Building 6.7 The Arts’ Contribution to Urban Development 6.8 Workbook: Making Site-Specific Performance Ch 7. Training: An Engaged Artist Prepares 7.1 The Dynamic Triangle of a Socially-Engaged Arts Curriculum 7.2 Craft Training 7.3 Scholarship in an Engaged Art Education 7.4 Community Engagement as a Component of Learning 7.5 Values and Principles Underlying Training 7.6 Higher Education as the Site of Engaged Art Pedagogy Advantages of Learning Engaged Art in Higher Education Obstacles to Situating Engaged Art Training in Higher Education 7.7 Assessing Engaged Art Education 7.8 The Curriculum Project Interviewees 7.9 Workbook: Beginning Engaged Art Partnerships Afterword: The Centrality of Relationships in Engaging Performance Appendix
Jan Cohen-Cruz is director of Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life. She is the author of Local Acts: Community Performance in the US; the editor of Radical Street Performance; co-editor, with Mady Schutzman, of Playing Boal: Theatre, Therapy, Activism and A Boal Companion; and a University Professor at Syracuse University.
'Cohen-Cruz has been a dominant force in the field and her diverse experience is threaded through as examples throughout this book... It is difficult to think of someone more embedded in all aspects of community performance scholarship and practice.' - Rebecca Caines, Performance Paradigm
‘Jan Cohen-Cruz’s latest book offers an approach to community art that is distinguished not by its technique or amateurism, but by the level of its engagement with the people most affected by the subject matter of the work. Cohen-Cruz argues that organizational skill and activist competence are a crucial, though undervalued, component of community art. The cases presented in the book, all from the US, interestingly tell the reader about the processes that led to the final production, and discuss problems that were encountered by the performance groups.’ – Sruti Bala, Theatre Research International