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Gender and theatre-making: Holding the present open, holding the world to account

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Abstract:

Feminist theatre is a source of empowerment, Singh writes plainly; it enables women to speak out. It is at the intersection of art, activism and social relevance. It is further an exploration of women’s own unique idiom, their own form, their language and ways of communication. And, it is a challenge to the established notions of theatre. (Singh, 2009, pp. 169–70). Four members of the author’s Toronto research team spent 10 days at Prerna in March 2016 in the context of our latest collaboration, Youth, Theatre, Radical Hope and the Ethical Imaginary: an intercultural investigation of drama pedagogy, performance and civic engagement (2014-2019) which comprises a research network of scholars, education practitioners, and artists in Toronto (Canada), Lucknow (India), Tainan (Taiwan), Coventry (England) and Athens, (Greece). In Lucknow, the Toronto team witnessed the feminist pedagogy of critical dialogues and engaged in the drama practices in the Prerna classrooms. They worked with the girls, as visiting artists and researchers, calling on many different kinds of pedagogies (role-play, improvisation, soundscapes) to create a meeting place with the girls, to build a way of working together so that we (without a shared language) could learn things about one another. The goal of our pedagogical work was to have the girls explore and communicate through drama to help us understand the everydayness of their lives, to help us appreciate what they cared about in their lives, what mattered to them, what ambitions they had for themselves. Drama is not a novel, but a familiar, way for the young women at Prerna to work. Prerna uses drama methodologically in all school subjects. This means they also work from a premise of “the ensemble”. Their impulse, and their pedagogical compass, has them making sense of shared experiences as a collective. At Prerna, drama is a language of care. It is a language of care-giving and care-receiving between the girls themselves as well as between teachers and students. They shared with us their artistic and social practice of hope for a just world order, for personal autonomy, for artistic freedom and civic engagement.

American Verbatim theatre artist Anna Deavere Smith wrote, “The theory of the play is that an actor has the ability to walk in another person’s ‘words,’ and therefore in their hearts” (1992, p. 7). In their study, Hedge and Mackenzie (2012) explore how emotional sensibilities are cultivated in classrooms to enable care. Philosopher Isabelle Stengers (2002) proposes that we become more hopeful when we find solidarity and connection to others. Our collaborative paper, then, will examine how a pedagogical and creative practice in one school for lowest-caste girls in Lucknow, India was harnessing the imaginative capacities of theatre- in particular its ensemble-building and its capacity to hold the present open for investigation—to leverage these practices for understanding the political economy and deconstructing the structural forces of gender oppression in times of growing social and economic inequality.
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Association:
Name: Comparative and International Education Society Conference
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http://www.cies.us


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1357650_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Gallagher, Kathleen. "Gender and theatre-making: Holding the present open, holding the world to account" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Comparative and International Education Society Conference, Hilton Mexico City Reforma Hotel, Mexico City, Mexico, <Not Available>. 2018-10-15 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1357650_index.html>

APA Citation:

Gallagher, K. "Gender and theatre-making: Holding the present open, holding the world to account" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Comparative and International Education Society Conference, Hilton Mexico City Reforma Hotel, Mexico City, Mexico <Not Available>. 2018-10-15 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1357650_index.html

Publication Type: Panel Paper
Abstract: Feminist theatre is a source of empowerment, Singh writes plainly; it enables women to speak out. It is at the intersection of art, activism and social relevance. It is further an exploration of women’s own unique idiom, their own form, their language and ways of communication. And, it is a challenge to the established notions of theatre. (Singh, 2009, pp. 169–70). Four members of the author’s Toronto research team spent 10 days at Prerna in March 2016 in the context of our latest collaboration, Youth, Theatre, Radical Hope and the Ethical Imaginary: an intercultural investigation of drama pedagogy, performance and civic engagement (2014-2019) which comprises a research network of scholars, education practitioners, and artists in Toronto (Canada), Lucknow (India), Tainan (Taiwan), Coventry (England) and Athens, (Greece). In Lucknow, the Toronto team witnessed the feminist pedagogy of critical dialogues and engaged in the drama practices in the Prerna classrooms. They worked with the girls, as visiting artists and researchers, calling on many different kinds of pedagogies (role-play, improvisation, soundscapes) to create a meeting place with the girls, to build a way of working together so that we (without a shared language) could learn things about one another. The goal of our pedagogical work was to have the girls explore and communicate through drama to help us understand the everydayness of their lives, to help us appreciate what they cared about in their lives, what mattered to them, what ambitions they had for themselves. Drama is not a novel, but a familiar, way for the young women at Prerna to work. Prerna uses drama methodologically in all school subjects. This means they also work from a premise of “the ensemble”. Their impulse, and their pedagogical compass, has them making sense of shared experiences as a collective. At Prerna, drama is a language of care. It is a language of care-giving and care-receiving between the girls themselves as well as between teachers and students. They shared with us their artistic and social practice of hope for a just world order, for personal autonomy, for artistic freedom and civic engagement.

American Verbatim theatre artist Anna Deavere Smith wrote, “The theory of the play is that an actor has the ability to walk in another person’s ‘words,’ and therefore in their hearts” (1992, p. 7). In their study, Hedge and Mackenzie (2012) explore how emotional sensibilities are cultivated in classrooms to enable care. Philosopher Isabelle Stengers (2002) proposes that we become more hopeful when we find solidarity and connection to others. Our collaborative paper, then, will examine how a pedagogical and creative practice in one school for lowest-caste girls in Lucknow, India was harnessing the imaginative capacities of theatre- in particular its ensemble-building and its capacity to hold the present open for investigation—to leverage these practices for understanding the political economy and deconstructing the structural forces of gender oppression in times of growing social and economic inequality.


 
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