October 25, 2010
That’s the question that over 500 people from 38 countries played and performed with, and created conversations, dances, music and skits about—and simultaneously shared the inspiring and creative work they are doing in their communities, schools, hospitals, universities, NGOs and neighborhood streets. The event was Performing the World 2010, held in NYC and sponsored by the East Side Institute and the All Stars Prohject, September 30-October 3.
Performing the World was born in a conversation between Fred Newman and me a decade ago. The role of performance in human development and learning was already a vital part of the therapeutic, educational and community organizing work we and our colleagues were doing.The East Side Institute and the All Stars Project have worked for decades to create a performance-oriented culture and community, in conscious and direct relationship to progressive social change. Our activities involve all neighborhoods and social strata in New York City, and have created an international network of connections.
My international travels had taught me that there were many variations on development through performance being played with in countries rich and poor, in areas rural and urban, in cultures traditional and modern. We decided to reach out to those doing this work/play—from community organizers to business people, from artists to social workers, from therapists to teachers—who were using performance to help people and communities grow and create positive social change. The first Performing the World conference was held in 2001, just a few weeks after 9/11. Hundreds showed up from all over the world, as if this kind of gathering was what they and their communities needed at such a moment. It has been, tragically, a very extended moment.
The world certainly needs new performances! There is too much that is old—war, poverty, HIV/AIDS, national and ethnic conflict, sexual abuse and oppression, greed and its violent destruction of people and nature, and countless other ways of stifling human potential and destroying environments. And just as old are the dominant ways of trying to solve these problems. Performing the World is an environment-and-activity that engages these problems by involving people in creating new performances of being human. We posed the question, “Can Performance Change the World?” in support of this ongoing “search for method,” in which the way forward cannot be known—but must be performed into existence.
Here are a few Performing the World 2010 scenes (more to come)
Coming soon! Videos of conference sessions