Theatre at Any Moment, a post by Myra Visser

3 Jun

My name is Myra Visser. I study biophysics, and I will be a senior at the University of Michigan in the fall. I joined the Prison Creative Arts Project (PCAP) the fall of my sophomore year. Since then, I’ve volunteered with our literature review, The Michigan Review of Prisoner Creative Writing, which publishes writing submitted by incarcerated men and women in Michigan; the Annual Exhibition of Art by Michigan Prisoners, which curates Michigan prisoner’s paintings, drawings, and 3D art into a two week exhibition; and lastly, I’ve facilitated theatre and visual arts workshops in facilities around Ann Arbor. I decided to visit Brazil with Ashley Lucas because I was interested in observing the ways in which our work at PCAP is similar and different from what our partners do here in Brazil.

Myra

Our workshop group: kids from the neighborhood, an UniRio student facilitator, and Michigan students.

This past Saturday, June 2nd, our class visited Professora Marina’s Teatro em comunidades workshops in the favelas. I was with a group of 13-17 year olds. We played many theatre games that were improv based and similar to charades. We also had a dance off. Here in Brazil, theatre is taken out of the traditional dimly lit auditorium and more widely used for applied purposes. For example, in teatro em comunidades, we use theatre as a means to engage everyone in inventing the moment and focusing in on the ways the present can become theatrical versus being more distanced from the performers in the traditional theatre setting we are more accustomed to in the United States.

For the dance off, two people began dancing to a chosen type of music while the rest of us watched and decided whose moves we liked best. We then joined the dancer of our choice. If one dancer changed his or her moves, and anyone in the “audience” changes their opinion on who’s best, the individual was free to switch to the other person and join his or her dance. In this exercise, the “performance” begins with two performers and the rest of us are spectators. However, as time progresses, we all become performers. In all the exercises we do, we construct each instant according to directions, a thought, or an interpretation.

By comparing my experiences in the USA with my experiences here in Brazil, I’ve been able to approach theatre differently. Observing and participating in Brazilian theatre spaces with dedicated students and professors gave me new appreciation for theatre as an art form and as a more practical means for communication and understanding. I’ve been presented with new ways to express myself and communicate ideas. In PCAP, as well as in Brazil, we use theatre games and improv to relay ideas and experiences to others. Through such “performances,” people may relate to others with similar experiences, but they may also understand someone else’s struggles in a new light after watching another’s story during our theatre exercises. Emotion and body language are aspects heavily emphasized in theatre, and they allow for a new form of expression that morphs beyond speech.

As a student in STEM, I’ve acquired greater insight into the world of theatre and the ways it can be used to express artistic urges and also the needs of a community and greater structural changes to our societies.

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One Response to “Theatre at Any Moment, a post by Myra Visser”

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  1. Mais uma visita de amigos da Universidade de Michigan – Programa Teatro em Comunidades - June 12, 2018

    […] Os estudantes americanos escreveram belos textos sobre as vivências no Programa, para conferir acesse o blog: Razor Wire Women  […]

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