First Workshop: Outcomes

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Space

  • Teachers seemed incredibly busy and a it was frustrating for them that they couldn’t use their classroom because I was running the workshop in there!
  • The classroom was small with a lot of furniture - so there wasn't much space to work with

People

  • There were two representatives from the organization there, plus myself. Three adults in the room was a good amount, but due to a lack of prep-time beforehand, I could utilize the two staff members in a way that would have aided student learning. They were mainly there for logistics and behaviour management.
  • I was warned that attendance had been low this semester, and there were actually only 6 children at the workshop.  Whilst this number was low, it was much easier to be flexible in how we completed activities. Also, I was able to build very positive relationships with the six children (including spontaneous hugging at the end!) and they vowed to bring friends to the next workshop. So hopefully numbers will increase in time.

Content

  • Overall the workshop activities went well and students engaged with the subject matter. I didn’t officially introduced ‘theater of the oppressed’ but did do warm-up activities for students to ‘unlearn’ what they “think they know” about the internet.
  • The intergenerational artefact idea also worked well, and each student left the workshop with a guide for their little sister or brother.
  • Because the activities were designed without knowledge of their audience they didn’t fit perfectly with students’ level of digital literacy. Some students were miles ahead in terms of their understanding of online safety, and others used no social networking and online went online at school.  Nevertheless, all students confirmed that they did use the internet every day.
  • One outcome from the discussion portions of the workshop were that even the most savvy students had not considered the collective nature of online safety, and their responsibility to check their friends’ and peers’ privacy settings.

Follow up

  • As an introductory session goes, I was able to build very strong positive links with the six students, and also with the two facilitators. The facilitators both expressed enthusiasm about me working with these girls again and they referenced giving me more flexibility over introducing more theater of the oppressed style elements.
  • I was also able to chat with the students afterwards about the kind of activities they enjoy, and they would definitely find more active, engaged, and openly political activities interesting.

Photos to follow

Visiting Theater of the Oppressed NYC

 

I attended a theater of the oppressed show after our workshop on Thursday and it was really interesting to compare the two workshops. It was a style of theater so different from anything I’d experienced before. Beforehand, I thought the prospect of compulsory audience participation would make me nervous, or less able to enjoy the show, but it actually felt more natural for the audience and actors to interact. Perhaps harking back to original forms of theater that were founded on audience participation. Now the idea of not interacting with the actors feels weird.

Another thing that I found particularly interesting about the show, was that it felt as if the actors weren’t acting, but playing themselves. Even when they had stage names. Probably because they were enacting experiences of oppression that had come from within their group’s membership.

What was most interesting about the show was a moment in which there was confusion about how the police criminalize loitering. In the audience was a person who had just been released after 2 weeks held in prison without charge. He had sat on a bench, the police had approached him, he had stood up, and at the point that he stood up, he was officially ‘loitering’ and charged with resisting arrest when he protested. This moment of life imitating art imitating life was very powerful and again completely destroyed any division between actors and spectators.

I’d highly recommend checking out the other performances of legislative justice coming up this month at: http://www.tonyc.nyc/events
This show definitely informed my attitude for facilitating the workshop I ran the following day.

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Theater of the Online Oppressed?

There are many existing online resources for one-day drama workshops on cyber-bullying and online safety, but these seem mostly to be reactive. They focus on how to stay safe in response to threats, not how to actually own the space. The ideology of theater of the oppress turns ‘reactor’ or ‘spectator’ into ‘actor’, which makes it a fitting vehicle for this type of learning.

Also as a tool for social justice, it will help focus attention on the innate injustices in online data ownership, access, and literacy.

Having watched clips of theater of the oppressed in Turkey, India and New York, I’ve started mapping out a possible workshop idea based on Newspaper theater, as this allows participants to also improve their critical media literacy by deconstructing a newspaper article.

Theater of the Online Oppressed - Newspaper Theater idea

crossed reading:

Comparing article on victims to article on perpetrators (who are also victims when children):

Article  on victims: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3807351/We-devastated-Revenge-porn-hacker-posts-naked-pictures-TWENTY-women-online-breaking-photo-sharing-accounts.html

Article on perpetrators: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/12019426/Revenge-porn-Teenage-boy-becomes-youngest-convicted-of-posting-explicit-images.html

complementary reading:  Data and information generally omitted by ruling classes is added

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3807351/We-devastated-Revenge-porn-hacker-posts-naked-pictures-TWENTY-women-online-breaking-photo-sharing-accounts.html

Add information about this Right Wing populist newspaper’s own vested interest in exploiting women’s bodies (it is famous in the UK for this!), and previous controversy over phone-tapping and online hacking by this Newspaper. Also increased Government surveillance, see most recent wikileaks data).

Rhythmical reading: News is read to rhythm of samba, tango, etc.

Students could read news to rhythm of the musical genres they listen to, or as a string of code, etc.

Parallel action: Actors mime parallel actions while the news is read

This could be the intergenerational element, that brings in the parallel actions that parents, older siblings, or younger siblings could have taken to intergenerationally educate around the issue.

Concentration of the abstract:

Students could compile digital narratives, slides, images, and interview audio with victims to bring home the cruel physical and psychological reality of online victimization.

I wondered what people’s thoughts are on the benefits and costs of using this method for ‘one-off’ workshops and the importance of training facilitators and building the trust required for meaningful roleplay under strict time constraints.