AAU 202 Applied Theatre| Week 2: Engagement } Call and Response and a BITAW writing exercise

Engagement as an integral part of Applied theatre

In today’s lesson we discussed about the call and response of Applied Theatre. After looking at the various examples of a call and response to engage the public, one thing that struck me was how responses can reflect the community that was engaged. A simple engagement involves viewers to question and to be educated. Such an exchange of ideas and stories makes one contribute to a collective artwork that belongs to the community. In this sense, the artist becomes a facilitator, he/she creates a platform and framework for the art to blossom.

The passive spectator who takes pleasure in artwork while ignoring the production and the reality they conceal is a betrayal of art’s political efficacy. It displays the spectator’s own alienation and dispossession (Rancière, 2009).

This made ponder a lot about the how a piece of artwork can be manipulative. It forces me to question about the degree of manipulation I want to give the spectator/ viewer as an artist. Do I want the viewers of my artwork to become emancipated spectators? As I pondered on the level of control I want to have I was introduced to Arnstein’s ladder of citizen participation. From this I understood that the level of participation relies heavily on the knowledge of the community, sometimes some artwork needs to be non-participatory, especially if the topic is foreign to the community. Therefore when we are creating a piece of applied theatre work, we need to be aware of the level of knowledge of the community that will be involved. Understanding the spectators is thus a crucial element to consider.

The four basic types of engagement triggered my consideration when it comes to creating an interactive piece of art. A few questions sprouted in my head, how much engagement do I expect from the viewers? How do I engage the participants in a level that best fit the artwork in meeting its objectives? Am I ready to create an “incomplete” artwork that requires creative participation from the viewers? Am I ready to accept the outcome? However it may become? As an artist, the professional aesthetics that I exercised is then calculated choices that I made in order for collaborative experiences to be created. The level of “interactivity” is thus segregated into levels that I must carefully negotiate.

Today’s lesson was a bit of a mind blowing experience for me, it answered many questions that I have with regards to how art can be interactive, it also engages me to work on the level of community engagement I want

Poetry writing exercise by PETA’S “Basic Integrated Theater Arts Workshop (BITAW)”

Writing the poem using the exercise by PETA was an interesting experience, the most interesting part of it was not so much the writing, rather it was listening to my peers reading the poem out loud. It was fascinating that by word association we could imagine a wide variety of visuals. The sentence break also added to the meaning making of the poem. I found it really interesting how a simple poem like this can reveal the character of the writer. The moods that were communicated made me realised the power of the spoken word. What was also fascinating is how my seemingly nonsensical poem actually delivered a deeper message and a story that I did not realise until I heard it being read. This is brings me to realise that an exercise would served as an excellent trigger activity or stimulus for my drama teaching in secondary schools. The variety of stories that could be spun by poems like that would be endless and students would be encouraged to imagine abstract scenarios with this exercise.

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