As winter approaches, Occupy can use theater to maintain protest

11:50 PM / Posted by Ashley /

This was forwarded to me from Melissa at The Anthropologists ( Check out their amazing theatre and join their mailing list so you can receive awesome e-mails that contain passages such as what you will read below.

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Commentary: As winter approaches, Occupy can use theater to maintain protest

Benjamin Kabialis, The Berkeley Beacon [Emerson College newspaper] 11/10/11
During the Great Depression, a burgeoning population of workers' theater groups stamped on posters and playbills a common and empowering phrase: "Theater is a weapon." Theater welcomed the exuberance of material forged from the passions of deeply personal battles for workers' rights, and workers cultivated theater as a tool to raise class-consciousness. As American theater looks for the spark of revolution and Occupy Wall Street receives criticism for lack of direction, participants in both camps must take hold of this powerful partnership. Why does American theater dissolve while Occupy Wall Street bolsters its ranks? The latter is held together by a shared and deeply personal connection to the cause, while the former has become an institution completely out of touch with reality. Rather than an exploration of humanity, theater has become an exploration of theater. In colleges and universities actors study the craft of acting and playwrights study the writing of plays. The art form has become a sort of members-only party with no guiding principles outside those of economics. In several ways, Broadway's grandiose theaters, movie star performers, and steep ticket prices mirror the 1% of America's Wall Street. The Worker's Laboratory Theater, the Group Theater, and the Labor Stage were only a few of hundreds of troupes during the 1930s that proved theater could thrive without the resources or splendor of Broadway. Throughout the 1930s workers' movement, theater proved strongest when used as a tool for holding protest groups together. With winter approaching and harsh media criticism growing, Occupy Wall Street can use theater as a way of building community and maintaining a sense of passion in their own ranks.

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Anonymous on December 13, 2011 at 11:15 AM

and yet can you name any of those playwrights from the 30s writing as part of the Federal Theatre Project? or even any of the plays?
are you able to specifically talk about the change they effected?

Comment by Ashley on December 13, 2011 at 11:33 AM

Great point, Anonymous -

The Living Newspaper
Arthur Miller,
Arthur Arent,
Orson Welles,
Susan Glaspell
and the first production of "Cradle Will Rock"
to name a few...

Drop me an e-mail or facebook message - we can grab coffee and talk face to face, it's much more fun then posting anonymous messages on blogs ;)

Ben on March 27, 2012 at 2:06 AM

Hey, cool, I wrote this! Thanks for taking notice.

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