Today, we began our two and a half day workshop with Lisa Jo Epstein, who trained in Paris with Augusto Boal to be a part of his "Theater of the Oppressed" movement. The goal for "TO" is to include the audience, who are the oppressed, and transform them into "spect-actors." Throughout the day, we did different activities where we expressed ourselves without using words. After each activity, we had discussions about how it related to social change or social justice. We related everything to our own, individual struggles as well. We wrote them anonymously on sticky notes in three categories: What Social Change Is, Challenges to Social Change and Personal Struggles.
We also did exercises where we moved other people and our own bodies into still positions, representing times when we felt personally oppressed or judged. We created still scenes combining our poses, such as the scenes below. Everyone had a different pose, but there was a lot of recurring themes. Most of the poses looked either frightened or aggressive. I guess it depends on personality how one reacts to being oppressed.
Towards the end, we got into groups based on interest in different areas of social justice. I joined the stereotypes and ignorance group. Each group was to make a scene, without speaking, representing how we personally have been affected by these issues. I enjoyed this part of the day. My favorite parts were the discussions because I felt the most comfortable during them. I didn't feel that uncomfortable the rest of the day, but at times I felt awkward or out of place. I believe that this was what Lisa Jo expected and wanted, though. I had done most of the exercises before, when I used to take theater as a kid. It was interesting to do the same things now as I had done back in elementary school.
After class, I got dinner like usual. The cafeteria is extremely crowded now, because two new programs arrived on Sunday. It is difficult to get the good food before it runs out and the lines are terrible. I decided to keep it simple and get a peanut butter and jelly sandwich because there was no line. I also had a grape fruit for the same reason. I was satisfied, though. After dinner, some of my friends and I tie dyed some of our clothes, which was fun. I'm excited to see how they all turn out!