Theatre provides a forum
gives a voice to those who are seldom heard in the mainstream media.
values, standards, and patterns of behavior of a particular group of people.
Culture is expressed in people's
customs, language, rituals, history, religion, social and political institutions, and in its art and entertainment.
Not the same as popular culture! i.e., fads and fashions that dominate mainstream media, music and art for a period of time.
the process by which we learn about our culture. Art and entertainment are sources of enculturation; tools for demonstrating culture.
the endeavor to overcome all forms of discrimination (racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.)
shortcuts in thinking that attribute a generalized identity to people who are not like us. Stereotypes tend to disappear when communication among groups, races, and cultures increases. Theatre of the People attempts to increase communication by celebrating our differences.
3 Basic Types of Theatre of the People:
Theatre of Identity
Theatre of Protest
These types of theatre are not always separate or mutually exclusive.
Theatre of Identity
promotes a particular people's awareness of themselves and their experiences, traditions and cultures. The plays of theatre of identity are written by members of a particular culture and staged by actors from that culture. Theatre of identity gives audience members of that culture a self-definition not available from the dominant culture. (Spike Lee's Bamboozled)
In the United States, the theatre of identity
grew out of the wide variety of traditions that make up our diverse population. Many of these theatres reached their peak in the opening decades of the twentieth century because they provided art and entertainment for millions of new immigrants whose cultural and language differences, as well as outright discrimination, kept them out of the mainstream American life. One of the strongest forms of theatre of identity in the United States is that of black Americans. Legitimate plays written by blacks, about blacks, and for blacks were rare until the twentieth century. Before that, black characters were mainly stereotypes written by whites and even performed by whites.
The purpose of Theatre of Protest is
to protest and change by venting hostility toward the ruling or dominant class, race, or culture. This type of theatre isn't presented primarily to entertain but rather to demand justice.
20th Century Examples:
El Teatro Campesino (The Farmworkers Theatre) founded by Luiz Valdez in 1965.
ETC became a new type of theatre that did more than celebrate Latino culture - it protested social injustice.
Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues deals frankly with childbirth, sex, domestic violence and rape. The V-Monologues continues to be performed around the world, often in connection with the V-Day initiative, a movement to end violence against women and girls throughout the world. On a local level, benefit performances are organized and performed by volunteers to raise awareness and funds for anti-violence groups.
borrows contrasting ideas from diverse cultures and joins them into a single work. At its most basic, cross-cultural plays borrow staging techniques from another country to create a unique piece of theatre (i.e., Disney's The Lion King as adapted for live theatre by Julie Taymor; see textbook cover).
At its highest level, cross-cultural theatre
is an attempt to fuse various cultural rituals, myths, and styles in order to find parallels between cultures, including those of the writers and performers and those of each audience, and merge them in a performance that celebrates our diversities and similarities and promotes cultural pluralism (i.e., films such a Babel and Crash).
Theatre is a way of seeing through another's eyes.
We all see the world from our own point of view, and most people tend to think that their take on things, as seen through their culture, is the correct view. This phenomenon is called
Many plays attempt to
open the doors to multi-cultural awareness. However, artists who attempt to produce plays that promote culture awareness sometimes come into conflict with the dominant culture. Why? Because... Cultural diversity is often seen by members of the dominant culture as threats to the nation's cultural identity. This side of the argument insists that we must share a common culture, our "civic glue" which serves as a kind of "immunological system." The result? Some want to restrict the content of art so that certain ideas will never be heard, even by those who desire to hear them.
the altering, restricting, or suppressing of information, images, or words circulated within a society.
The theatre has almost always been
the first of the arts to be censored because it can stir emotions, create empathy, hide subliminal messages, and stir groups of people to action.