Building democracy through theatre in the post-democracy
Who are we? Academics and artists
We are teachers, artists, students and researchers of applied drama and theatre and drama therapy, who care about our societies and our human conditions.
We are connected to the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim and the University of the Witwatersrand, Drama for Life, in Johannesburg, South Africa.
What we want to achieve? Human studies, Theatre and the Society
With intention and agency we seek transferable knowledge and skills about, and through, the making and communication of theatre as a complex multimodal medium that can benefit our societies and better our human conditions.
- We seek to develop theatre both as focus of study and as method of inquiry by:
- Gaining understanding of theatre as a communication platform.
- Expanding embodied knowledge of specific human issues through theatre as communication medium
- Promoting education, transformation and healing when immersed in theatre as experiential transformational context.
Why is this important? The post-democratic context
We do this in response to the conditions of the post-democracy that we experience in our societies. We want to understand and engage with conditions that:
- Enrol the citizenry as passive, quiescent, even apathetic receptacles, responding only to what is given to them.
- Force alternative thinking and behaviour to take form as either radical and violent exclusion and rejection or an uncritical inclusion of different opinions on anything imaginable as long as it does not question the of the neo-liberal, political–economic state of affairs.
- Strategically de-politicize the arts; stimulating theatre industry as compensatory, non-binding entertainment; muting the educative and political potential of theatre, impeding the staging and negotiations of the unseen bodies and unheard voices in non-violent spaces.
How we respond?
We are guided by the following values:
- A belief of the intrinsic value of each person in each context as active citizen who is already contributing to their society.
- An appreciation of the multiplicity of voice, body and perspective.
- The promotion of participant-audience centred education and theatre making.
- The critical interrogation of habitual and dominant narratives.
- A search for the meaning and practical implementation of deep democracy
- An acknowledgement of the systemic nature of the human condition in all its aspects.
- An understanding of theatre making as political act
We propose the following tasks:
1. Theatre making tasks
- Create work (performances, events, workshops and more) with and for post-democratic communities that raises consciousness and speak to post-democratic issues.
- ·Develop storytellers, dramaturges, theatre makers, applied drama and theatre facilitators and co-researchers in a way that positions theatre making as humanistic and participant-driven, leading to self-revelation and healing.
- Seek political inclusion by staging a variety of viewpoints especially the stories of the unheard and unseen, supporting individuals and communities in dealing with the effects of being unheard and unseen.
2. Aesthetic reflection tasks
- Create reflective aesthetic space for students, teachers, facilitators, therapists and collaborating artists/communities.
- ·Develop multimodal aesthetic understanding in the context of democratic agency
- Promote and embody reflective and critical reflexive practice in all relevant contexts including higher education teaching space itself.
3. Societal tasks
- Be actively involved in human and social dynamics in Norway and South Africa by building deep democracy at the level of everyday living and engaging with participant driven issues of the post-democratic context..
- Reveal and interrogate power and exploitation and create alternatives to the effects of the post-democracy through investigations in theatre work, applied drama and theatre and therapy.
- Define and explore sites for democratic and post-democratic exploration that can support and be supported by investigation of and through theatre (includinghistorical and cultural sites)
- Build and implement post-graduate infrastructure, courses and teaching capability on PhD and MA level at both participating Universities through student and teacher exchanges.
- Expand long-term university-society collaboration by strengthening the relationship between academic partners and creative artistic partners in the field
- Develop and implement practice-led /arts based research through education, investigation of theatre forms and their effects, applied and therapeutic performance interventions, and publication of findings.