Workshop: Politics and Performance


Today there is a growing unwillingness to participate in civic discourse, to listen to and debate ideas with those whose opinions differ from one’s own. People are increasingly cautious about engaging with strangers, to exposing themselves on any level with people whom they do not know.  How can we circumvent that fear and avoidance in order to encourage dialogue?

We can make art in a public context that will help expand the discourse addressing current politicized issues.  Artists may wish to create infiltrations and intervention that comment on a situation, reveal contradictions, are intended to generate debate, or are calls to action.  What are the different strategies that we can use to design such work?

An audience who encounters your performance unexpectedly on their way to other activities in their life is different from an audience who chooses to come to see your work.  The context, your location within a site, the time of day, what you wear, your proximity to the viewer, how you behave, the materials you use, how you initiate an interaction, all impact the public’s willingness to pause, to pay attention, and to consider what is being offered.

This workshop explores different approaches to creating public performances that have political content.  Strategies that we will consider include the use of humor, enigma, and metaphor.   While you will be expected to do extensive writing and discussion within the workshop to design a performance, the task is not simply theoretical: you will test it on the street.  Participants should come to the workshop with an issue that they have already researched, to which they are committed to making public work.  Collaborations are encouraged.