World Forum Theatre Festival 2009, Austria
1.Meeting of Female Jokers/Open Space: 28.10.2009, 14.00 – 16.00
2.The Role of Female Jokers in contemporary Theatre of the Oppressed: 29.10.2009, 14.00 – 16.00
This summary of the Women’s Power Meetings in Graz/Austria 2009 wants to serve as a starting point for further discussions. It does not claim completeness and it was not possible to depict all presentations and performances in detail. Please feel free to add your amendments and comments, for example on the blog, created by Mariana Villani (Thank you very much!) at http://www.theatreoftheoppressedandfeminism.blogspot.com/.
Furthermore we would like to point out that the following statements do not represent necessarily the opinion of all participants.
1.Meeting of Female Jokers/Open Space: 28.10.2009, 14.00 – 16.00,
1.1.RESULTS brought from the last meeting in Rio
The content of chapter 1.1. was first published on www.theatreoftheoppressed.org as a result of a transcontinental women’s joker working session in Rio in July 2009.
The oppression of the women Joker:
We continue to live in a male-oriented, patriarchal society. It is an illusion, even within the Theatre of the Oppressed, that we have equality.
It is asked that: Theatre of the Oppressed acknowledges itself as feminist.
Oppression against women is transcultural.
What can we do to address this inequality?
Create a space for women inside the Theatre of the Oppressed.
Create bridges to connect women of the Theatre of the Oppressed in all countries.
Create an international network of women jokers.
Create meeting of women jokers at a national and regional level.
Begin a dialogue within the Theatre of the Oppressed about the oppression of women.
Realize a showcase of the Theatre of the Oppressed on the subject of the oppression of women.
Use the possibility of the festival in Austria to connect.
Realize the first international meeting of women jokers and multipliers of the Theatre of the Oppressed in 2011.
Strategies for the encounter
Have local meetings of Theatre of the Oppressed women
Research an collaborate with other groups and associations of women, offering them Theatre of the Oppressed as a tool
Create a concrete network beginning from these local encounters
1.2.Getting to know each other
1.3.OPEN SPACE: Questions and Collection of discussion results
What makes or why/how are women jokers different from men?
Is it a question of gender/personality/class/culture how a joker structures a performance, deepens the process, questions, uses power, …
Jokering as a woman sometimes needs “doppelte Kraft” (double efforts) to be seen/accepted
Can a men-joker be a feminist? Can a woman-joker reinforce/reproduce dominant structure?
1.Are there structures in the Theatre of the Oppressed that hinder (stop) women to be jokers?
2.How does the Theatre of the Oppressed reproduce dominant structures (not just patriarchy)?
Typical patriarchal structures
Being afraid of disharmony (critics)
hierarchy through knowledge
not only one person, who jokers
Reflecting your own background
If you need to reproduce dominant structure for getting attention tell/show it to the others
Joker as expert
Contradictions between change you want to see and what you do
Not showing emotions or connections
Space of exchange and reflection to support each other, disagree, examine our internalized “prejudices”
Learn to debate/argue
Having to be male/or use strategies … to be heard
Knowledge exchange by practice
We talked about
Etc.: i.e. capitalism MANY
2.How we reproduce inside the Theatre of the Oppressed
Expert: to have power over knowledge
Abuses between change you say you want … and the way you work
No reflection on location/privil
How we make with power
Not showing emotions
Male Strategies to get attention
Shyness – not interested in competition
Not being willing to take the same risk
3.Strategies … to make better
reflecting on background (culture, class, etc.)
making visible the structures and strategies used … publicy … that are power based – dominant structure
not only one person joking – sharing in group
make space to exchange about feedback, examine internalized prejudices
sharing practice and theory
Can the Theatre of the Oppressed define itself as a feminist movement?
What kind of a network [do we want]? What is the ideology?
feminist theatre of the oppressed network
“feminist” defines the space, the network
Not only women coming together because they are women
Dialogue of this network and the Theatre of the Oppressed in general to make the movement a feminist movement (transform men as well)
A place to share experiences of feminist Theatre of the Oppressed-practitioners, learn from each other, try new ways/techniques, to support each other
Form a blog/e-group on the internet – to be in contact, informed of what others are doing, maybe begin the network
Difference between the Esthetical “language” of women e. “l.” of men? Embodyment of problems/conflicts?
Feminist/gender technics for workshops
Is it more important to discuss by words or with theatralic methods? (on stage – during performace)
Give the space for discussions during or after a performance?
Should we use more body language?
Ideas/experience: how to start/maintain a women’s Theatre of the Oppressed group?
How to stimulate and promote Theatre of the Oppressed events, projects etc. focussed in the women issues?
Finding ways of bringing Theatre of the Oppressed to women who are not thinking of themselves as “feminist”. Theatre of the Oppressed as a tool for “simple” women
How to stimulate a group:
pool of women discussing/sharing how to do (global)
Event attracts/makes groups (and the other way around)
Why you want to make this group?
Do it (whichever small it is) the way will come
Motivation: activism (then?) (vs.?) professionalism
Attraction: learn to make theatre, aesthetical political
Space: take obstacles into a path (childcare, food, livingspaces, etc.)
Strategies and questions the joker can use to make gender visible and to make space possible to many
No group dealt with this question.
2.The Role of Female Jokers in contemporary Theatre of the Oppressed: 29.10.2009, 14.00 – 16.00, public
Instead of the so announced “panel discussion” it was decided to discuss the tasks and topics which came up on 28.10.2009:
2.1.Presentation of the discussion logs of 28.10.2009 (look at chapter 1.3.)
2.2.Discussions during the presentations
Discussion dealing with the question
“Are there structures in the Theatre of the Oppressed that hinder (stop) women to be jokers? “:
We have to make clear what we mean with “joker”, maybe there are different understandings. Jokering as the method of communicating or dealing with the audience during a performance, joker as the role, the function or anything else? Because in Brazil or Africa there are a lot of women jokering. But it makes a difference when you look at the persons who are leading the groups. They are mostly men.
She understood, because of a play she saw on the festival, why this question raises at European groups. While the woman, when she was jokering alone, was a powerful great joker, the same woman disappeared behind a man, when they where sharing the role of the joker at a different performance. It was difficult to discuss this point or change it during the performance.
Comment from another person: Some people left because of this scene.
We are not just talking about gender at that point; we are talking about power structures in general: the power of the white man.
It was also discussed in the group that women by themselves construct the joker as a powerful role and do not have the self-confidence to take it over. My question is, how does this become a powerful role and if it is necessary to do so?
Another question: What are “power structures” for us and how does Theatre of the Oppressed work with them?
Social structures of discrimination in all ways (class, gender, etc.) are also reproduced through us and that makes self-reflection so necessary. The individuals and the group/the society are linked. And of course it is power, power structure.
Woman 4: Question with regard to the comment of woman 1:
What do you mean by white man?
We talked about gender. And yesterday I realised, yes true, what they are telling I saw as a concrete example. It is not just about gender, it is about the European concentration. In Africa it is not that difficult.
But in Sudan there are no women jokers. The example you give, was that not a question of personality?
No, really not.
I was also in this group. It is a real concern for me in the context of Australia. I’ve seen white women practice this work. In my experience some of these practices were abusive. Because there were things about privileges and power that were not considered. So the question for me is around power in relation to this. And I also think that is only one aspect of the way dominant structures are reproduced. This is an important one for me about my location: What do I do with power, what are my responsibilities and to offer spaces where we can consider this. What happened in Rio was: There was a paper presented, in which a real racialist moment occurred. No one wanted to talk about that moment. Most of this jokers in this workshops, it was a jokers training, were white women. We have to look at this issue in our practice. For me this is very problematic in the context of Australia, a very multicultural country. So this is a part for me to. How do we reflect on this, on what we do?
Julian Boal reads out the text of Muriel Naessens (uses Theatre of the Oppressed for over 15 years in the feminist struggle):
1.Feminine does not necessary mean feminist.
2.Concerning the feminine representation of jokers does not interest her much. Because with the process of more and more groups becoming feminist there will be necessary more and more women jokers. Having feminist groups will lead naturally to feminine jokers.
3.The formulation “Women’s power” does concern her. She does not agree with this title. Feminism does not want an inversion of power. Feminism wants to deal with the question of power, wants to fight for real equality and not formal equality, not to have woman with power but to discuss the power structures in our societies.
Barbara Santos mentioned her concerning about the discussion of the question about the differences between women and men jokering. This question is linked to biologism. She prefers to talk about what is a nice, interesting way of jokering, what is the aim, etc.
Mariana Villani argues that she is no talking about men and women but about feminine and masculine values. Both can be had by women and men. When talking about a feminist network, she is not talking about separating women and men. She is talking about including all the feminine values (to care for others, to express feelings, etc.) that have been less estimated. But it is not a sex issue it is a gender issue.
Anna Olopdotter Engström says it is very important to relate it to the social power structures in which everyone is involved. The group, not the individuals, who has the most power in the whole world is white, male, middleclass, middle-age, Christian, heterosexual, without disables …
Woman: Why are there workshops marked with “women only”?
Birgit Fritz answers that this decision was made by the workshop-leaders.
Woman: But why do the workshop leaders want to work on feminist issues only with women?
Mariana Villani answers that she did a workshop for women only. She thinks women need spaces for them, to communicate without feeling ashamed or judged or struggling for their space. On one side these spaces are needed on the other mixed spaces are needed as well. Both are very important.
Other discussed questions:
Does it make sense to work in gender/sex separated groups for some topics? For example when you are working about domestic violence, does it make sense to work with women only or not (There are different experiences: Women groups who want men working on that topic with them and groups who don’t)? When you are working about sexism than with mixed groups?
Why have the “Women’s power” workshops been all at the same time? Is this a question of inclusion or exclusion, a strategy, an organizational difficulty?
2.3.Practical steps and further suggestions
PRACTICAL STEPS – How to go on?
Blog for exchange already created by Mariana Villani at http://www.theatreoftheoppressedandfeminism.blogspot.com/.
Publishing of results of Grazmeetings here you are ;-)
FURTHER SUGGESTIONS collected on sheets
Organizing a workshop concerning gender issues within Theatre of the Oppressed groups. The network would impulse the international workshop in 2010.
Create space at the next international festivals to work on the topics
Collect short women’s narratives and “transform” them into short scripts or scenes.
For international meetings:
Space talking about/reflecting ourselves regarding:
What are “power structures”?
How does Theatre of the Oppressed work against them?
Does it really “work”?
To do something against intercultural language barriers
Motivate people to ask for translation
Focus on people from “southern” countries asking them for interesting topics to discuss
Space to discuss about the word “activism” and what does this mean