An ethos of socio-economic transformation through transparency
We are all aware of the trickle down effect of a global economy but there is a growing belief that change comes from the bottom up and it is up to the individual within the community to break the oppressive silence and attitude of resignation that plagues our society due to our cultural inheritance.
There is a much greater public awareness and unrest with the repetitive rhetoric of rapacious imperial forces but there hasn't been a collaborative voice to challenge the class system and corporate view with its particular notions of ownership, creativity and power.
Theatre, documentary and technology are in the process of creating such a voice that cannot be stifled due to the structure of the World Wide Web, designed to resist the social and hierarchical order: Few are those who have not heard of Wikileaks or the Zeitgeist Movement that resist and challenge our present capitalist oriented consumer economy. This shift in our consciousness may also be at heart of entertainment moving away from dramatic practices and conventional staging to postdramatic practices.
Our interest lies somewhere between the postdramatic and predramatic performances. Both may seem somewhat lacking in structure and overly subjective, thus alienating generations of spectators of dramatic genres, still very much alive and part of humanity’s cultural inheritance. However if you’re going to bring about a transformation in our way of thinking about our environment everybody needs to understand the motivation behind any movement to make these changes of their own volition.
While the younger practitioners amongst us embrace this move away from dramatically structured entertainment towards multi-media performance pieces our goal would be to marry the old and the new styles of theatre and performance both live and virtual, in keeping with the Old Comedies of political satire and parody, such as Aristophanes’ The Frogs and the New Comedies of social ritual and marriage. The objective is to highlight the similarities between different social classes and how comedy can be used as a source of social correction and communication to free us all from our self-inflicted oppression, which includes our so-called oppressors who are just as much victims of our poor socio-economic systems.
Where Shakespeare and Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed may meet:
The reason why we’re particularly interested in reinterpreting Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream to start with is because it deals with themes of transformation; social class; the role of women and men; the notion of ownership and property in society. There are a lot of similarities to be found between the rising bourgeoisie in Shakespeare's time and the class culture that emerged in Celtic tiger Ireland when the working class began to transform the structure of our society due to their growing economic power.
Boal reflects in Theatre of the Oppressed on the move away from the feudal system and an agrarian society to a more urban society, which is similar to the movement in Shakespeare’s times and in Ireland when we moved away from our agricultural country existence towards the service industry and the urban lifestyle of the city. These changes to our rural landscape began some time before with the demise of the small farmer and their few acres of land, a way of life for many in rural Ireland, which declined with negative consequences for the farmer after our entry into the EU, reflected upon in Nancy Scheper-Hughes Saints, Scholars and Schizophrenics: Mental Illness in Rural Ireland.
Examining Shakespeare’s plays as well as using Theatre of the Oppressed (TO) and Forum Theatre techniques with groups within a community we can entertain and educate humanity to our symbiotic relationship with our environment.
Our goal would be to demonstrate the important role the arts and entertainment play in our lives, and in particular the potential role theatre and documentary could play in a rural community to engender environmental awareness. Most importantly why we as cultural creators on the world stage have a responsibility they cannot afford to ignore.
Technology and Mythology’s roles in shaping society:
We’re interested in examining the role of mythology and the influence dramatic practices have in shaping our psyche. We will also be exploring our own natural and intellectual resources to tell our own Epic tales and Heroes to generate a sense of self-esteem in this digital age where mythological and fantastic tales of superheroes and supernatural creatures once again occupy centre stage as a source of entertainment.
Irish myth speaks of Oisin’s return from Tir na n’Og (the land of the ever young) to his country transformed by the ravages of time. That sense of alienation one feels when returning to a country you no longer recognize, is often the case for natives who return from abroad. However we should not grow old and despondent with the downturn of our global economy but see it for what it is: a renaissance of rural community values and recognition of our inter-dependence in order to flourish. We need to redress this situation by regaining our sense of self perhaps through the appreciation of all our local environment has to offer us in the line of entertainment and to become more self-sufficient. However it is important to realize we are far from alone and must work locally but think globally to create an overall sense of harmony. There’s a lot to be said for the simple life and perhaps what we need is to slow down, take time to smell the roses and think about what really makes life worth living.
Local authors; Colmán agus Mairéad Ó Raghallaigh have created an imaginative series of graphic novels based on the history and mythology of Ireland, making available in an exciting new format many stories which were not widely available in their original form i.e. the Irish language. The graphic novel genre is common throughout Europe and America but has proven particularly suited to Irish. These are not the comics read by small children but appeal to readers of all ages from 10 upwards. An Tain was performed at the Cuirt Festival in Galway a few of years ago. There is great potential here for future telling of the tales in digital format and live performance and we would gladly collaborate with others interested in this genre.
Latest from John Farragher
Tuesday, 26 September 2017 21:23
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