Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Safe in This Place Seeking Participants


Safe in This Place, a theater-based workshop series exploring what it means to be safe along the Avenue, is seeking participants from the neighborhood to take part in ten Thursday night sessions starting one week from today on January 12 (complete information is copied below from the Crow Hill Community Association). ILFA caught up with the organizers - three students in CUNY's innovative Applied Theater program who live nearby - earlier today to hear more about how the project was developed and what the workshops will be like. 

"Applied theater," as the organizers of Safe in This Place practice it, is built on the traditions of community-based theater and political theater in the United States and drama-in-education in the UK, and has an ongoing relationship with Theater of the Oppressed as developed in Brazil by Augusto Boal. As they put it, "we believe in engagement and reciprocal learning rather than coming into a neighborhood and telling people what the answer is to their problems." Examples of their work and the work of their colleagues include the Bar None Theater Project, which created original theater in a women's prison, and the St. Vincent's Theater Project, which addressed the closing of St. Vincent's in the Village. To develop a project like Safe in This Place, they conduct significant background research into the history and current state of the neighborhood (in this case, the space in which they live), including meeting with community groups, surveying local residents, and generally engaging with what's written and spoken about the area. 

As for the project itself, the goals are to "ask questions and open up dialogue" by "trying to crack open assumptions and the narratives that we're told about safety and figure out what it means for who is in the room and for this neighborhood." There won't be a "typical" workshop or a set format, but participants can expect a lot of games, small group work, and exercises ranging from the silly to the serious, and from familiar formats like story circles and improvisational exercises to more specific and directed work on the issues at hand. (While they warn that such workshops don't translate well to video, there are some examples online from the Creative Arts Team, including this one from Project Change).

If this all sounds interesting and illuminating, considering committing to their Thursday night workshops. It's a great way to continue talking and thinking about these issues in Crown Heights.

For 10 weeks this winter, join your neighbors in using theater activities
to explore what it means to be safe in the neighborhood along Franklin Avenue.
 Free. All are welcome. No theater experience necessary.
“Safe in This Place” is a theater-based workshop series that will engage residents of northern Crown Heights – specifically the neighborhood around Franklin Avenue – in exploring the question: “What does it mean to be safe in this neighborhood?” It will culminate in a public event in March that will be designed by participants to share what we’ve discovered and extend the dialogue to more people in our neighborhood.
The workshops will be facilitated by three local artists who are trained in using theater and drama to engage groups in creative reflection and dialogue.  The workshops will be offered free of charge to adult residents who live, work, and/or socialize on or near Franklin Avenue between Atlantic Avenue and Eastern Parkway.
Dates: Every Thursday from January 12 through March 15, 2012 (Participants are asked to attend all 10 sessions.)
Time: 7:00-9:30pm
Location: Georgia’s Place, 691 Prospect Pl., Brooklyn, NY 11216 (corner of Prospect Pl. and Bedford Ave.)
There will be light refreshments at all the sessions.
No theater experience is necessary. Any interested adults (18 and over) are encouraged to attend. Join us!
For more information, please contact Julia at or 708-408-2004.
Safe in This Place is a research project of the M.A. in Applied Theatre program at the CUNY School of Professional Studies.

1 comment:

  1. I am a Boal fan, and know Theatre of the Oppressed from time in Brazil. For those of you with time, check it out.