Monday, July 26, 2010

Let's Re-cap: Reflections on Recent ERPA Events

Several weeks ago, The Field and Taller Boricua hosted two events as part of the ERPA Program. The first was The Power of DIY Panel with Yanira Castro, Jorge Rojas, and Cassie Thornton, mediated by Charles Rice-Gonzales of BAAD!. The second was a Skill Swap & Idea Party run by Caroline Woolard (co-founder of Our Goods), Erin Sickler and Chanika Svetvilas. Executive Director, Jennifer Wright Cook, shared her experience and thoughts on both events in a recent post. Now that we have all had some time to let things sink in, we thought it would be nice to check in with our panelists and facilitators to get a read on their experiences. What magic kernels of insight would they like immortalized in the blogosphere?

The infinitely articulate Yanira Castro responded to our inquiry with this generous reflection on her experiences, focusing on the discussion of virtual and physical space in performance:

“The heart/center of the talk at the DIY Panel was, for me, the discussion about the lack of physical contact in "modern" life and its effect on audiences. Much is mediated through the screen. The traditional stage in some ways is not very different from the screen: there is a body in space but it is meant to be seen as a "picture". Distance is built in. From my point of view, the current traditional theater-going experience does not address the desires/needs of current audiences--hence the power in certain DIY situations. I've been thinking about the lack of boundaries of earlier performance situations--Shakespeare's rowdy stage, for instance. Bodies very close and immediately responsive (not just to the performance but to their neighbors). Since the Panel, I have been thinking a lot about something Jorge brought up in his work as one way of answering this spatial conundrum that is very current and relevant: placing virtual and physical space right next to one another. These two spaces, that are often so separate, create a friction when side-by-side. The live web cam and video chat taking place as another event unfolds... participating both in the live "room" and from far away seems like a space that is at the edge of our consciousness. What is not interesting is the mere documenting of a moment that is being broadcast live but if the event(s) really is the confluence of these, sense a of time and space ruptured, has inherent power.”

Thank you, Yanira!

Chanika Svetvilas, a facilitator of the Skill Swap adds this concise wisdom to artists:

“People are craving the exchange of ideas and resources, they just need a forum or excuse to make it happen. Once you initiate an interactive project, it's still a learning process to figure out how to let go and at what point do you allow participants to take action of their own volition. Everyone has a different comfort zone. You have to figure out how much facilitation is necessary to move along the exchange."

These events are an excellent learning opportunity not just for attendees, but for the panelists and facilitators as well. Open forums of information are often a time and place where new obstacles are identified. Once these obstacles are delineated, we can take action and build solutions. Chanika points to artist’s needs that are not being met, and offers her insight:

“Speak up! Share what your needs are and talk to the people around you and listen. Resources are available, but also you have the power within you to make a difference in someone else's life by sharing your experience/knowledge/skills. Everyone has something to offer.”
…what excellent and encouraging words!

Thank you, Chanika!

We agree that any interactive project is always a learning process. What has been your experience with encouraging participation and sharing authority in projects? Do you have advice or strategies to add? Tell us about it!

Keep sharing. Keep learning. Keep moving!

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