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Theatre students strike outside the box

by Marilla Steuter-Martin March 13, 2012
Theatre students strike outside the box

Theatre students protest using various technques. Photo by Marilla Steuter-Martin.

Since the Fine Arts Student Alliance voted to strike on March 1, theatre students have been finding creative ways to picket and promote their cause.

Last Thursday, half a dozen students wearing red t-shirts performed a “theatre of the oppressed”-inspired piece outside a classroom in the EV building, which consisted of steady movement and spoken word.

“This theatre piece is developed from the work of Grotowski and also Boal,” said first-year theatre and development student Amy Collier. She explained that the group interpreted well-known theatre techniques in ways that pertain specifically to the strike.

“We’ve also coupled that with certain words that we think are really powerful and relevant to what students are thinking right now,” she said.

First-year theatre design student Robert Mallin explained that the point of these performances, which take place during class time, is that everyone involved will receive an absentee mark.

“If we receive multiple [absentee marks], all of us fail the class. So as long as the strike goes on, all of us are actively, intentionally failing,” said Mallin. “The whole point is that we’re performing, we’re doing what we want to do and we’re sticking up for the strike and sacrificing our GPA, or basically wasting the tuition or the cost of the class.”

Last Tuesday, students in a script analysis class performed a dramatic reading of one of the course plays at their classroom’s door, ultimately forcing their professor to cancel the class.
Thursday’s event was an example of a soft picket, where students were happily explaining their cause to some interested passersby, without blocking doors or harassing anyone.

Ned Zimmerman is a theatre student who has been acting as an unofficial coordinator of meetings and workshops by regularly sending email updates to his peers throughout the week.

“We’ve been trying to discuss that we can include people who aren’t actively boycotting classes,” he said.

In keeping with the idea that students can use their skills and creativity to protest effectively, Zimmerman said there are a variety of different projects in the works.

“There’s some clown work being done, cheerleading, documentary theatre, dance, and there’s a forum theatre piece happening,” he said.

FASA will hold its next general assembly on Friday, March 16, 3 p.m., to decide whether or not to continue the strike.

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