A performance of 'Us and Them' at Commercial Drive's Cafe Deux Soleils.
Headlines Theatre's participatory theatre event 'Us and Them' may help break down walls you never knew were there
We formulate an understanding of who we are in part, by comparing ourselves to others. In the process, we often end up projecting unsavoury qualities onto people of different sexual orientations, ethnic backgrounds, political stances or financial standings. This is largely an unconscious process but one that divides us—barring communication, dialogue, free flow of ideas and ultimately constructive personal and social change.
Us and Them
October 22–November 28, 2010
Neworld Theatre (November 19 & 20)
Café Deux Soleils (November 21)
Admission by donation, reservations recommended
Headlines Theatre has developed a creative and compelling way of confronting some of the ways we form divisions between ourselves and others with the introduction of the participatory theatre event Us and Them (the inquiry). Us and Them is directed and delivered by David Diamond, co-founder and artistic director of Headlines Theatre.
Participatory theatre brings the audience into the performance (though no one is ever forced to participate). During the performance, the conventional barrier between the audience and performer breaks down. Things that are often unspoken come out into the open as dialogue is instigated. Each performance is completely different due to the diverse perspectives on subject matter that the various venues and audiences inspire.
David Diamond, co-founder and Artistic Director of Headlines Theatre. (Image: Kirk Tougas)
Headlines Theatre's David Diamond seeks to inspire dialogue and social change
David Diamond is the originator of Theatre for Living and is the author of the book Theatre for Living: The Art and Science of Community-based Dialogue.
Theatre for Living arose by combining elements of Augusto Boal's Theatre of the Oppressed and the holistic approach of systems theory, said David Diamond via phone. He explained that Theatre for Living partially focuses on challenging and questioning the boundaries between the oppressor and oppressed, a topic heavily examined by Theatre of the Oppressed. It then focuses on ways of getting beyond the symptoms of oppression to the root causes of what's actually happening. This means taking a systems theory approach and looking beyond the binary lens to the multifarious roots of social and community problems, instead of dealing with issues or the people engaged in these issues by categorizing them as simply good or bad, positive or negative, right or wrong, etc.
Diamond believes that when problems are compartmentalized, greater divisions are fuelled between individuals and communities. We then tend to get to a point where we look for the big answer, the one overriding solution, when in fact there are billions of solutions.
"There are as many solutions as there are people," said Diamond, who has directed approximately 450 community-specific projects on issues such as racism, civic engagement, violence, addiction, street youth, intergenerational conflict and homelessness.
Participatory theatre is one creative way to help us envision these solutions, offering audiences an opportunity to do more than simply take in a play.
Kristen Michelle Håvet is an American-Canadian fiction and nonfiction writer, as well as founder and editor-in-chief of Glossolalia. She plans to begin her second degree in biology very soon. Website | Twitter