Is "Us and Them" the theatrical equivalent of new media?
"Us and Them: The Inquiry" was cultivated through the influences of Paulo Freire and The Theatre of the Oppressed. This inquiry evolved into it's own entity when First Nations communities challenged the terminology of oppression. They felt that this concept polarized their communities and hindered healing. It was this challenge that gave birth to the inquiry of "Us and Them." As this theatrical experience moves through communities of the Lower Mainland, we are given the opportunity to challenge our own polarizations.
It is interesting to consider the power of interactive theatre. We currently occupy an era where interactive media is the most powerful source of information. The TV industrial complex is dead. Instead of one-way conversations, we are demanding more opportunities for collaboration and interactive media. This allows us to increase our connectivity. However, the endless mechanisms of communication enable us to be become deficient in real life interactions.
In "Us and Them", David Diamond provides an opportunity for audiences to connect in person and challenge their unrealized assumptions. Although no one is forced to participate, most audiences experience a shift outside their comfort zone. This shift provides space for self-reflection.
Who are 'we' and who are 'they'? How much of our identity is built from what we are not?
Perhaps 'we' are progressive environmentalists and 'they' are consumerists, who drive SUVS and go to MacDonalds on their way to a monster truck rally. Unfortunately, judgement is not going to save the planet. In order to create change, we have to listen to each other and have conversations.
Diamond recognizes that looking at the planet as 'us' is difficult. "I found it hard to detach from having clearly defined enemies. When you know who your enemies are, it makes it much easier to organize political movements...But, in truth there is only 'us'. We all occupy this planet." explains Diamond.
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