Thursday, August 31, 2006

How did they do that?

I love Ok Go already, but this made me love them so much more.

Thanks, Brendan and Annie!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I have an assignment to finish...

...and yet, Abbey got a new MacBook with a built-in camera and effects. Which would you choose?

Seriously, I am thisclose to being completely done with everything related to grad school, and I am fascinated by nothing but how utterly creepy I can make myself look.

There was another one, but Brian said it made me look like The Predator, so I refrained.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

And I even scored bootleg Baile Funk CDs.

Well, Senhor Boal made very sure that we had plenty of extra things to do before and after his daily workshops, so updating has been a little tough. I'm still in Rio, the program ended Sunday (Woohoo! Done with grad school!), and I'm now in a charming little hostel with free internet and free time.

I have very few plans for these last few days. I've been hanging with friends of mine from the program that stayed also, and we've been stumbling upon some pretty great ways to spend time. Yesterday we took the bomde (streetcar) up to Santa Teresa, a gorgeous old neighborhood high in the hills. The bomde itself was an experience in and of itself, because it's so much more than just a streetcar. It was part charming San Francisco open-sided, wooden-benched, "ding-ding" streetcar, and part amusement park scary rollercoaster ride, complete with sudden stops, dizzying heights, and frequent losses of electricity. It starts in the business district and immediately travels across the Lapa Arches, which are extremely high above the street and no wider than the car itself. It was hilarious. Here's a very tame picture of it:'s so much freakier and more fun at night.

Anyway, today was unexpectedly great as well. A friend of mine from the program has a Brazilian friend who has begun an NGO in one of the favelas (slums) here, and he took us with him to visit a famous NGO/community arts organization called AfroReggae in another favela. It's the organization that the movie "Favela Rising" is based on. We got to see their facilities and watch young kids singing orignial samba compositions and doing Afro-Brazilian dance, all in these crazy centers whose walls are covered in the most beautiful grafitti art, in the middle of the favela. Apparently AfroReggae--which started as a music group and branched out to arts education--has made unbelievable progress in bridging the divides between rival factions in the favelas and reduced what was basically a war zone to an almost violence-free area, giving youth alternatives to gang and drug activity, which is pretty much the only other option in favelas. I kind of couldn't believe that I had somehow ended up there today, it was like we were still in our class doing a site visit or something, but I was just having a day hanging out in Rio.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


....Aaand, Brazil. I have arrived for the final leg of my ridiculous summer journey, and it's going rather well, not that I ever doubted it would. I arrived here on Sunday morning without issues, and since then I've been balancing some really stimulating workshops with a fair amount of relaxing beach time.

The reason I'm here is to do a course with Augusto Boal, a pioneer in the educational theatre field. Just a little background in case you aren't someone like the good Dr. Science who knows this already, and I'm sorry if it's a bit too verbose...Boal developed a methodology called Theatre of the Oppressed, in which a group of people examine their specific ideas of oppression and dialogue about ways to break the oppression through the language of theatre. In this form of theatre, spectators become spect-actors by offering alternative solutions to breaking the oppression, and actually trying out their ideas onstage. The entire thing becomes what he calls a "rehearsal for change." There are many, many facets to his practice, which includes a massive body of games and image work, but that is the absolute most basic gist of it. This week we are learning about his techniques called the Rainbow of Desire, which attempts to explore people's more internalized oppressions (or "cops in the head") and ways in which they and others would deal with them. It's all quite fascinating, as is the opportunity to work in Rio's Theatre of the Oppressed Center. I've found Boal to be quite accessible, as well as committed to challenging us and engaging in constant dialogue.

He's also the cutest ever. He's in his seventies now, and he's this spritely man who wears flowered shirts and jeans and grandpa Reeboks. He has always been known for his huge mass of curly gray hair, but now he seems to have cut it in some sort of longish layered dealie (the "Rachel"?), which is even better. He is as articulate as his books, and full of stories. He also has an amazingly trained staff of "Jokers," or facilitators of this kind of work. So it's going well.

As for Rio, it's incredible. I don't know if it's the beach, the mountains coming straight out of the water, the music, the people on the beach and running by the water, or any other of a million things that have stood out to me, but I'm loving it here. I need to come back for a longer time very soon. And I NEED to learn Portuguese, because even though a mix of English, Spanish, and mutilated Portuguese words has served me fine, I hate how mute I feel here, and how pretty the language is when people who actually know it speak it. I have to say though, I'm getting a lot more today than I did yesterday.

So yeah, that's me. I'm here until the 24th, and I have several days to explore after the program ends. More later!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Dublin, Week 3 (and 1 and 2...)

Okay, so I am still in Dublin, and the program is, unbelievably, coming to an end. It's been both the quickest and most packed 3 weeks of my life, which made blog posting difficult, besides the fact that my internet access was always about a 3-block walk away. When you have time for the 3-block walk only at midnight and the choice is between blogging and talking to Brian or sleeping, I think the decision is obvious. But I feel like I need to just do a general overview of what I've been up to, even if it's a bit longer than I might like.

My time here is also really hard to synthesize. We've been staying on the campus at Trinity College, in the building where Oscar Wilde lived when he studied here, and we get to work in the Samuel Beckett theatre. Trinity is the most beautiful place, it's this 400-year-old walled campus, full of cobblestones and right in the middle of the city.

I think I've interrogated theory and looked at my own practice during these 3 weeks more than I have throughout my entire master's program. The whole program is focused on community-engaged theatre...and there's no one definition of that. Much of the first week we got to see many different examples of community-engaged theatre in Ireland, meeting tons of people and seeing their programs. We saw shows in Dublin, got to see kids perform at their famous children's theatre (The Ark), traveled outside the city to Dalkey and Dun Laoghaire where we got to meet people who run Heritage Centres, and spoke with artists who draw the most amazing stories out of people and then, somehow, have them render those stories artistically. And at the end of it all, we made up wee performances with the help of the Upstate Theatre Company at the top of a mountain in Cooley.

We've worked with the most amazing tutors. We created our own educational workshop projects around specific plays, learned about facilitation skills, and began devising original performance pieces around a number of themes. In the middle of it all, we spent an entire weekend in Belfast, which was a really intense experience. We worked mainly with the Educational Shakespeare Company, which showed us an unbelievable amount of work. We were able to visit a prison and have a workshop during which a group of incarcerated men did a reading of their original adaptation of Macbeth. We were able to see work with homeless youth and kids, and beyond the ESC, we were able to look at how people just go about doing theatre in that city. As for Belfast, we were given a pretty complex picture of the place, and saw how the community is still very much divided, and how it has worked to heal itself in many ways. It wasn't easy to see-- to not understand the context and to try to piece together what you think, while being plopped in the middle of where the Loyalist/Republican conflict happened. There were times when I didn't understand the work and when I really connected with it, and still other times when I felt I was a spectacle in the middle of it. It's hard also to feel like you're being barraged with the conflicts and sub-conflicts of the place, and to try in the midst of that to observe how the city itself is really very vibrant, and for the most part people are still going about their lives.

Aaaaaanyway...and then this week we came back and everyone worked their asses off to devise original performance pieces, which came out beautifully. My group used the campus of Trinity College as inspiration for a site-specific piece, which involved text and movement and singing and traveling audiences. It was the best! I can't describe it, and I don't have pictures of it yet to post (because of the whole can't take pictures of yourself while performing thing), but I will as soon as I get them.

So I'm almost done, and right now I have to finish my final papers and all that. I really wish I could have had a witty, pithy way to sum up my experience that would make everyone laugh. If I had had wireless internet in my room, it might have worked. But there's always Brazil...

P.S. I am trying to insert a bunch of pictures and I've even uploaded them, but for some reason this persnickety Irish computer won't let me insert them into the post right now. I'm working on it.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Just wanted to say that I'm alive...

...and extremely intellectually and artistically stimulated, and very, very, busy. Dublin is amazing. I promise I'll write more later!