Lisa Jo Epstein was introduced to our class today as our instructor for the next two and a half days. She trained with Augusto Boal, who made Theatre of the Oppressed popular all over the world. Theatre of the Oppressed is a type of theatre that changes the audience from spectators to "spect-actors." It focuses on social issues that are active in the "spect-actors" lives. According to an excerpt of TO, "The Theatre of the Oppressed (TO) enables people to rehearse and engage in dramatic performances for personal and social transformation."
We started off class walking around the room feeling the space and making observations. Then we were made to mingle, but to mingle only using movement and sound instead of shaking hands as a form of introduction. For the most part of class we were made to move our bodies differently or make noises or experience people in a different way. For a part of the class we discussed our observations of ourselves when doing these strange tasks, and we also wrote down on boards issues and social injustices that we all personally face today. The issue I put on the board was racism, which is something I experience quite often.
At the end of class everyone was sectioned off into groups based on the issues they put on the board and were to create a scene using movement. My group did a scene where people of different races stood around the Statue of Liberty, took pictures, etc., but were being "bullied" by a White person. Even though our group did recognize that White people can experience racism as well, we were trying to represent in our scene what is more predominant in our society, which is the oppressive white force yielding their power over the minorities.
To be honest, I did not enjoy class as much today as I have been so far. My favorite parts were the mini discussions on social injustices and on the group imagery scene. Besides that, I felt uncomfortable in the class. We were asked to do things that did not make sense to me, was not fun, and made me feel self conscious. I know that it is good to get out of your comfort zone, but for me certain parts felt unnecessary.
Another reason I did not enjoy the class very much was because it felt like a high school, or middle school, environment. Where the teacher tries to get every ones attention and the students are acting a bit rowdy. This does not typically happen with Professor Lamas, or maybe he just handles it differently. This could be due to the fact that Professor Lamas is a White male who people seek approval from, while Lisa Jo Epstein is a White female who people might feel they do not need to impress. This is mere speculation, so I may be wrong. And the only reason I bring up the male vs. female response is because it is something that we talk about in class; the power, sometimes unconscious, of White males.
It is only the first day, though, so hopefully I will come to enjoy the Theatre of the Oppressed more. I think its goal and objective is amazing, and I would like to experience more of it and come to enjoy it as well.