The Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives and Transforming Theatre Ensemble is introducing a new initiative to create equitable spaces for all who live, learn and work at MSU called MSU Forum Theatre.
Forum includes theatrical games and exercises that lead participants toward writing their own play that depicts an unresolved problem inspired by the actors’ own experiences with inequity.
"MSU Forum is based on the work of Augusto Boal, who saw theater as a space for rehearsing to take action to overcome the problems we face,” said Lynnette Lammers, artistic director for the MSU Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives. “This is a chance to use your voice, be creative and galvanize others to become change agents at MSU."
During the performance, audience members are given the opportunity to step into the play and try a tactic for responding to the problem the actors have portrayed. This transforms the spectators into “spect-actors.”
“I was very happy with our finished play and the story it portrayed,” said Angela Scott, laboratory technologist for the College of Veterinary Medicine, who attended implicit bias training in February. “Everyone has something to offer and everyone has the right to opportunities to reach their full potential and to feel valued.”
Forum’s mission is to help participants to be better prepared to analyze a situation and make choices about how to intervene for maximum impact and minimum harm in a moment.
Rehearsals include practice scenarios that encourage collaboration and conversation. Scott said that her group held great discussions about power dynamics and their impact on people’s daily lives.
“After a few weeks, we started to improv a story that seemed relevant to workplace culture. The collaborative improvisation was quite insightful with everyone bringing their own unique perspective,” said Scott. “Lots of ‘ah-ha’ moments.”
Forum’s goal to inspire productive agents of change is executed through community building, sharing experiences and rehearsing intervention scenarios. Participants are allowed to give input into audience design as the final performance is invitation-only.
Kelly Brittain, associate professor in the College of Nursing, also participated in the implicit bias training and shared her experience. “I’m not an actor and I thought it would be fun to learn something new,” said Brittain. “I would recommend this experience to everyone that wants to learn and explore inclusion, bias and diversity in a creative space and produce art that can help others.”
This new initiative is open to all members of the MSU community who are interested in becoming and inspiring others to be agents of change.
Rehearsals begin at 6 p.m. Jan. 20 and end on March 30. There will NOT be rehearsal the week of spring break. The final performance will be 6-8 p.m. March 31, and it is required that participants attend all rehearsals and performance!
Applications will be accepted through Jan. 10, 2020.