“Each successive leap in nonviolent progress has built upon the acts that happened before,” Andrew Aydin, who co-wrote the bestselling March trilogy with congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis, told Co.Create last summer. “One of the key proponents in the national sit-ins was that there was also a boycott going on of stores that wouldn’t sell to African-Americans. So you took one tactic, you added another, and put it all together to put pressure. So if young people today creatively used tactics from that movement, and added social media, that’s how they’ll make the next great leap.” (source: This Article on the Women’s March and Creative Resistance)
Creative resistance is outside the box thinking. It should contain an element of surprise, is probably unconventional, and requires a desire to extend the protestor’s reach beyond what is expected. You do not have to be an “Artist” to add artistry to your event, and groups like The Betsy Riot and Bad and Nasty are great resources for ways to apply a guerrilla-style approach to creative activism.
This work is always, first and last, storytelling work, or what some of my friends call “the battle of the story”. Building, remembering, retelling, celebrating our own stories is part of our work.
(Excerpt from THIS GREAT ARTICLE on The Guardian.)
So while our site is focused on helping you employ theatricality in your protest/outreach event, we’re certainly not advocating for a one-size fits all approach. Instead, we’re compiling guidelines for first-timers, ideas for Resistors who want to employ creative tactics, and links for anyone who wants to read further. This page is by no means exhaustive, and we will continue to update it, but in the meantime, we hope it helps you find ways to add theatrical resistance to your event!
What do you need to get started?
Co-conspirators and reality-makers
Additional Groups/Initiatives to know about
- If you are organizing a march, you’ll need plays (scenes with 2 or more people) monologues (a piece for one person) that can be read/presented on the move. You will want to avoid plays that require a lot of props or materials. You’ll want pieces that are short and to the point, and you’ll probably only want to work with a few pieces that you can repeat, rather than selecting/having to coordinate a bunch of them.
(We are currently working on a call specifically for plays/monologues that can be done on the march, but in the mean time, if you don’t see plays/monologues in our catalogue that work for you, why not reach out to local theatres to see if they can connect you with playwrights/writers/poets that might have material they’d like to collaborate on?)
- If you are a Resistor or Theatre who is organizing a community outreach event, adding a few play readings to your program is a great way to get conversation started around your selected focus!
- Again, select pieces that seem “doable” for your group. Readings are generally done with actors sitting or standing on stage while holding their scripts or reading from music stands. Necessary stage directions are read out loud as needed. Actors do not use props/and costumes are generally not worn.
- Snacks and beverages make a talk-back after the plays more fun and keep people around to mingle – a key component to outreach!
- If you’re a theatre holding a reading of Protest Plays, following the reading up with a workshop that teaches/encourages local community members to write their own play or monologue is a great way to double-down on audience engagement!
- And remember: You do not need a script to employ theatricality in your event.
- For additional inspiration, just look at Improv Everywhere! Though primarily a comedy group, Improv Everywhere “causes scenes” in public places with large groups of people. There’s no need for participants to have any prior acting experience, and a lot of what they’ve done relies on silence or music, rather than a “Script”. There’s no reason YOU can’t follow their lead and create a public scene for your cause!
- Theatre doesn’t require a theater to happen! Plays can be read in a coffee house, a bar, a park, someone’s living room… In fact, HERE is an interesting article about an LA group, PopUp Theatre doing just that!
- Ask around for ideas – what spaces in your community are free? Are there local business in your community who would like to host an event? Literally any space can become a performance space – just make sure that if it’s a public space, you get permission to use it!
- Look for groups in your area already committed to an issue or cause you align with. They may have space available, and additional resources (volunteers and listserves) that can help!
Co-Conspirators and Reality Makers
- Reach out to local organizations, theatrical and otherwise, for help.
- Connect with local theatre groups for help – tell them what you’d like to do, show them our sight, work with them to come up with a way to use theatrical engagement in your community!
- Register your event with us so we can help promote it – and connect with us/other Creative Resistors through our Facebook page and Twitter.
- Stay in touch with us about your event, share photos, and let us know how it went. We genuinely want to see your event succeed, and we’d love to see ideas/strategies shared between Resistors!
“You do what you can. What you’ve done may do more than you can imagine for generations to come. You plant a seed and a tree grows from it; will there be fruit, shade, habitat for birds, more seeds, a forest, wood to build a cradle or a house? You don’t know. A tree can live much longer than you. So will an idea, and sometimes the changes that result from accepting that new idea about what is true, right, just remake the world. You do what you can do; you do your best; what what you do does is not up to you.”
(Excerpt from same the GREAT ARTICLE on The Guardian mentioned above.)
- You’re probably going to need some event artwork – what a great opportunity to engage a local artists in your work! If you don’t know any artists, consider contacting local art galleries, colleges, and theatres for recommendations. Make posters, e-posters, flyers…
- Remember that papering a parking lot or posting artwork in public places might not be permissible in certain zipcodes – be sure to investigate local laws/codes, and always ask for permission from business owners before posting flyers/posters in their places of business.
- Press releases are great tools for notifying the media about your event. Don’t forget to share your press release with local bloggers who might also be interested in covering your event.
- Local organizations who are engaged in similar work may be willing to share your event info with their e-lists, volunteers, etc. Don’t be afraid to reach out!
- Investigate local radio shows and podcasts – let them know what you’re doing… they might invite you on to talk about your work!
Additional theatrical groups/initiatives to keep an eye on/connect with:
PLUS a few more powerful/helpful articles to check out:
Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds (The New Yorker)
A psychologist explains the limits of human compassion (VOX)
Why do we ignore mass atrocities? It has to do with something called “psychic numbing.”
What Science Tells Us About Good and Evil (National Geographic)
“Why Do You Have to Make Everything Political?” (Bitter Gertrude)
Radical Empathy Is the Theatre Artist’s New Job (HowlRound)
Liberal Lessons in Taking Back America (NY Times)