Sunday, January 30, 2011

Creating Art for our World Makes a Difference

Advance book previews,
Contributor quotes.....

Jan Selman

"This article discusses Are We There Yet?, a participatory play and workshop combination created by artists and health educators out of a sense of urgency about the need for more effective sexuality education for teens. The play uses the metaphor of learning to drive while it investigates and promotes safe and respectful expression of sexuality. A highly participatory theatre event, it works for and with its audience."

"If change rather than a crie de coeur is our goal, we must immerse ourselves in our audience's world and strive to create art which will touch specific audiences as deeply as possible. It follows that for artists with the intention of creating social or individual change, choices are to work "at home", creating work which speaks to people just like ourselves, or to enter into a process of deep listening, of participatory research, as we create work we hope will be relevant and transformative for our intended audience. This act of listening and translation is a bigger challenge than one might suppose."

"Context matters. Culture matters. In creating and using art for change, activist artists bring their aesthetic taste and expertise as well as their social and educational agenda to their projects. We believe that creating art about our world makes a difference, as art seeks to touch people at their core. However, as we work, it is imperative that we also engage with the specifics of the milieu in which we create. Where transformation is the goal, many artists choose to apply their art forms within education and other development processes. Why? In part we do this because we believe that to be meaningful, education (where education is understood in its broadest context, that is as a process of human development) must be deeply relevant to its participants."

Look for the full article in the soon to be released book, "Creative Arts in Research for Community and Cultural Change", Editor Cheryl McLean, Associate Editor, Robert Kelly, Detselig Temeron Press.

Jan Selman is Professor and Chair in the Department of Drama at the University of Alberta, Canada. Her career has included freelance directing and new play development, as well as facilitation and direction of many community-based popular theatre projects. In the 1980s she was Artistic Director of Catalyst Theatre, described as, "perhaps the most innovative popular theatre company in North America" (Alan Filewod, Theatre History in Canada 10, 2). Recent publications include a co-written book, Popular Theatre in Political Culture: Britain and Canada in Focus (with Tim Prentki, Intellect, 2000) as well as articles for Convergence and Adult Education Quarterly. Recent direction includes Helen Edmondson's adaptation of A Mill on the Floss for Studio Theatre at U of A. Recent popular theatre work includes co-facilitation of Transforming Dangerous Spaces, a project which used theatre to investigate potentials for coalition across difference within women's activist communities. She is the Principal Investigator for the Are We There Yet? CURA.

(Look for full article by Jan Selman in the upcoming book "Creative Arts in Research for Community and Cultural Change".)

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