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Ideas for GPI

I presented these thoughts at the GPI meeting yesterday (February 11). Just feelings I've been having around the whole theme of revolution and how art could be even more effective in making it happen. This by no means is a dis to any of the efforts made by the GPI to help the world in some way, but more a challenge for us artists to use our brains and talents to be an even more threatening force to all forms of oppression.

I have been in cynical withdrawal from normal life and the GPI, wondering and questioning everything that I do and that I see everybody else do. It could be considered a type of madness or depression, but on the other hand, if you look back at history up until this very moment, have there not been operations underlying the public eye? Of which the perpetrators pimp people’s ignorance in order to thrive? I just wonder, what makes us different? How is our art helping to alleviate the pain that we speak of? How is it having a direct hand in stopping the carnage in the world which we criticize and protest (but inadvertently create)? Using art to combat destruction and misery is healing to people who feel the pain being talked/rapped/sung about and is fascinating, repulsive or offensive to others not familiar with the issue or is in favor of the cause of the issue. One element to manipulate to the cause of getting messages across is the content. Another one is through delivery.

The reason why I push good performance is it gets people’s attention, not necessarily by annoyance, but also by touching people emotionally in a non-intrusive or "digestible" way, even though at times I feel like people who are not compassionate need a tank of unavoidable truth about violence and poverty to roll over them. One medium to dispense a message is through drama. People love to get distracted by something they enjoy and like to escape into a situation that is not their own if only for a little while. If something is too preachy, boring, or monotonous in any way period, you lose the attention of most of the people you’re trying to address. Not everyone is trained to have respect for all performers no matter what is going on.

If a group or individual does something theatrical, it does not have to be long. As a matter of fact, short and concise is the best combination when expecting the attention of random passerby who most likely had another destination in mind. Also, when you add passion to good performance, people can feel that. And when you can write performance material in such a way that gives out doses of information interspersed with fluctuating tones or moods, people feel motivated because the material inspires them. They feel like they are a part of something and not just preached at. Let us take lessons from random people that we see on the street, i.e., who stand on the sidewalk and swear up and down that the world is coming to an end, Jesus is our only saviour, blah blah blah, etc, etc. How often do people actually stop to listen, and walk away agreeing fervently and whole-heartedly? None that I’ve seen. You can’t please everyone, and you most certainly aren’t going to get everyone to agree with you, no matter how you say what you have to say. But you can make a difference in the impact you are trying to have on the general public with sharpened performance skills and changing the game up every so often with different methods, and hopefully not only be preaching to the choir.

We could have the repertoire be part street theatre and part insurgency, but at least try street theatre once in a while or for a fundraiser, if we can get the same group of people together enough times to rehearse. It would be cool.

After wards, or during the performance or an insurgency, we could give out flyers with info about different things going on and what to actually do about them, like the war/tax resisters’ league, information about what certain companies do and why to boycott them, and what certain everyday habits do to harm the earth, animals, and other people. In other words, I need to do homework and research and we need to all do that in order to find all those things out. That way, when a performance ends or is taking place, we can give helpful, rebellious info out and that way, I think we more likely could really change things and have the cycle continue in that path.

On the other hand, a lot of people you talk to are a lost cause; they absolutely do not want to listen or feel guilt-tripped in any way for living an American lifestyle while there’s suffering going on around them (at least as I’ve come to experience in the coldness and abruptness of DC). They usually only willingly absorb your message if such issues have personally affected them. But going to schools is a good move because it’s the younger people who have a greater chance of being compassionate, do not want to be in denial, and will not be satisfied with things in the "world as is."

1 Comment »

  1. Cherie — I dig your idea about more street theatre. I’d be willing to participate in rehearsals and the like.

    Comment by Laurie Blair — February 22, 2007 @ 9:13 am

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The DC Guerrilla Poetry Insurgency (GPI) is an anti-authoritarian, collaborative, pro-humanity artists' collective incorporating music, rhythm, spoken word, community and resistance.

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