protest 3

[On the road all day; home 24 hrs then – onward! Rhizome r us.]

 

Some good conversation lately around the notion of the protest.

 

How to get the back and forth going?

 

We need to discuss: what we want and how to get it?

 

Late at night among playwrights around a table in Texas, there was a real split… Some suggesting a process of infiltration – establish arts as patriotic as a way in (plays commissioned to depict state history, other overtly civic ends); plays pushing in all directions – out-there work for out-there venues, while continuing to respect the needs of more mainstream audiences/venues (who may not be able to access experiments with narrative form or gender critiques, e.g.); plays for young audiences that expand (early) the notion of what theater is and what it can serve. This line moves against the notion of protest, or at least of a strike as a proper protest – make change by bringing art forward.

 

I’ve often thought along similar lines – that’s art’s strike is more presence.

 

But – and this is hinted in the reasoning above – movement for change (or even our ability to sustain a status quo) will require a global approach; we will have to work for a long time, in many ways. The Jeff Jones challenge was cited and met with collective enthusiasm (that audiences be brought into a conversation prior to the show; that their expectations be guided with deeper fellowship).

 

A mantra: Change will be pan-disciplinary, supra-national and omni-generational (omni-pan-supra as the one adjective? holistic? mass, in all its connotations).

 

So change the view of art by making good art, taking the art to audiences we may have neglected or have described in ways that are worn out now; bring the work forward in ways that get diverse audiences to relate…

 

But –

 

I remain interested in this protest idea. While there is so much energy in the arena of performance, so much good work being done, I feel also that there is so much muchness in general that we are no longer seeing art; it’s efficacy as a preeminent tool for ethical construction and material mercy (one definition for mercy = material innovation) is dropping form the discourse – art either “works” (makes money) or it doesn’t. Without light we’re turning into cave fish – transparent, blind…

 

A protest is not an alternative to change-from-within, but might help the ongoing work of people wanting to work in collaboration with current sites of power, more visible.

 

And a protest could be a way to collaborate with sites of power (the marginalized recognized too as a site of power) – we become co-advocates.

 

So reprising:

 

We stage a month long art strike December 2014, which attempts to remove all esthetic choice for 31 days (across the board or in rolling and linked strikes). The objective is to demonstrate the ubiquity of art, to highlight the capacity of esthetic discourse to link fields, and to demonstrate the vital, non-stop role that artistic thinking and behavior plays in society.

 

Follow through: encourage the creation of a Department of Peace in the US, with its own minister, that would have in part a mandate to enhance the esthetic dialogue (to put it in high relieve and reveal as magnificent its capacities for organizing, for healing); more direct governmental funding for the arts across a wider range of discipline (promoting more omni-pan-supra disciplinary action); encourage the culture of arts-support especially across generations and languages.

 

Tactic: All (globally) who define themselves as artists go silent for a month (a global, month-long silent retreat). Ideally, this would be everyone on the planet, and the silence would be perfect (no internet, no school, no sermons). No haircuts, no praise or critique, no recruitment ads (military cooperation essential).

 

Bottom line: A month-long, world-wide silent retreat demonstrating artistic fellowship, broadening the definitions of art, linking the military, the religious, wage-labor, scholars and artists as variously defined…

 

Our energy is still very well spent writing for performance, for example… I’m advocating for shoes, not saying we don’t need sox. Something at our basis needs to be addressed…

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