Theater promotes equality and social change

The lights in the room go out, the curtain rises and a diverse and massive audience remains silent for two hours to see, feel and experience the same things as the characters moving on stage.

The theater connects with the public. It predisposes them to receive your message and also, as a playful and collective element, it is an excellent ally to work on equality. Two key tools can be applied in it: self-care and a reflection on the transformation of society.

The process of artistic creation and the result itself also make it possible to analyze the social, mental and psychological constructions that structure a specific culture, as was already studied by the theater researcher and playwright Margarita Borja.

Telling stories to transform ours

Since the beginnings of ethnography, sociology, and field studies and journals, storytelling has gone from being a social magic to having scientific value. The subjectivity of the speaker or the way of narrating allow us to analyze a society, showing the importance of stories as a motor of change or instruction.

Talking about theater is talking about this. And it is also a process that gives value to one’s own voice within its collective representation. Through orality and symbolic and aesthetic language, the spectator participates in a conscious exercise of active listening, something that reminds us at all times that theater is a conversation.

It is in that conversation where we seek participation. For this reason, personal issues become collective messages, messages become theatrical conflicts that seek to be resolved, and involvement in the resolution transforms viewers into agents of change.

The theater is alive because it is completed and transformed by the participants and the audience. They all contribute, always, and even without knowing it, their own realities.

representation of Violet, a work created by the theater company Cerrado Por Obra (2017). Feminist revision of classic texts such as the celestine, Carmen, The life is dream, Don Juan Tenorio.
Author provided

When viewing a work or listening to a story, the aim is to understand the narrated behavior and how it is interpreted, to have time to think and rethink, fleeing from a culture consumed in a hurry. From this perspective, the theater is a laboratory for multiple sociological experiments.

The performing arts and theatrical activity also have great anthropological value. Canadian sociologist Erving Goffman published in 1959 The presentation of the person in everyday life. There he tries to analyze social interactions as a theatrical analogy, where social spaces become scenic spaces and the actors are predisposed to represent a given (and structured) symbolic role according to what society expects of that situation.

the theater game

From its ritual use to entertainment, theater continues to be a tool for liberation and expression. It helps in the acquisition of skills that give the personality a more elaborate depth and to develop the symbolic imagery, sensitivity and self-knowledge (bodily and emotional), especially at an early age.

For children to ask themselves questions about society through self-knowledge, the role-playing. Everyday situations and the routines of the attachment figures are visualized, playing interactively with the imitation of these observations.

It is very important, therefore, to allow this type of playful development. “Drama in education, as a total language, enhances the development of multiple facets in the educational field” and, in addition, develops the capacity for imagination and transformation in childhood. This does not mean, however, that there is transformative potential when games and theater are approached at later ages, since for adults playing again is an act of therapeutic pleasure.

We must be aware of how through the drama the capacity for elaboration is revealed, the knowledge that the person has of himself, his inhibitions, the state of expressive, body and verbal language, his capacity for social integration, etc. Concepts such as verbal clarity, time, spatial distribution and the evolution of relationships are always present in the dramatic action, expressed in a spontaneous way.

For this reason it is doubly important to rescue this dramatic game in adulthood and approach it from empathy and social transformation in pursuit of equality.

Essay and self care

Award-winning stage director, plastic artist, playwright, and set designer Marta Pazos believes that being an artist is catalyzing the expertise of art in an ecosystem. It is being aware of how each creative process is done and with whom it is done, since that awareness causes important changes in the work group and in the reaction of the public, hence the idea of ​​self-care in the theater.

In the theater, a constant balance is sought between what the character wants and does, and what the actor or actress is capable of showing by acting. Therefore, it is essential to create a safe space in each rehearsal, where, in the group that make up the management, the people who act and the collaborators, there is no penalty for ridicule, bodies, minds, demands and processes are taken care of. personal and collective creatives.

Several actresses on stage dressed in black and purple scarves on their heads.
representation of Violet, a work created by the theater company Cerrado Por Obra (2017). Feminist revision of classic texts such as the celestine, Carmen, The life is dream, Don Juan Tenorio.
Author provided

You trust your partner, your partner, and that is how you perceive your own growth. There is also trust in the collaborative figures that guide the process, such as the person who directs the show and will be present from the gestation to the stage delivery of the work itself. This must be done knowing how to take care of yourself and having the utmost respect for the people who carry out this process, as managers such as Mariana González Roberts do.

In spaces that host collective creative processes in which people need each other for the aesthetic artistic result to be realized, self-care and care of others are essential for development. Not working from there is like wanting to start a conversation looking at the wall.

The life of show business and the show bring us closer to a new social paradigm that takes the objective value (worthy of study) of a poetic, artistic subjectivity, which sweetens the scientific research process and turns theater into an indispensable tool for study. sociological. But it also helps us to reconsider the sociopolitical context, the final show being the result of a hypothetical experiment in social transformation and, therefore, an essential tool for working on equality.

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