The 2020’s holiday season was drastically different for me and my family as well as for so many worldwide. I saw a lot of people who ignored government recommendations to stay at home but, I tried my best to follow these rules throughout the holiday season. To combat this depressing environment and from the boredom of living each day under the same pattern at home, I decided to begin planning for the Proactive Players Festival (PPF) sooner than the original plan along with my co-founders. The purpose of the PPF is to create an opportunity for artists around the world to collaborate and share the experience of creating art in the midst of a pandemic. The festival began in 2019 when found my friends and I found Proactive Players. Proactive Players, which is an international theatre troupe comprised of a wide and growing community of independent theatre-makers who aim to create art based on relevant social issues. We, Proactive Players harness the unique backgrounds, skills, and expertise to tackle and present current and pertinent social issues through performance.
|[Photo of Poster of Proactive Players Festival. Photo Credit: Ashley Minju Song]|
Before winter break, my fellow founders and I had created a rough outline of how the festival is going to be held and what we want to do with the artists. As it was our first online festival, the majority of preparations were about organizing the schedule and activities. Eventually, we ended up with a list of activities that we felt were both necessary and relevant, after which we had a long conversation about how to “invite” the artists (as every artist lives in a different part of the world, which results in challenges related to time and date). Due to the pandemic, we knew that artists, like us, would be working or studying at home just like us. Hence, we decided it would be best to hold the festival either at night in the artist’s time zone or on weekends. After we established the basic rules for the PPF, each founding member divided artists per time zone and contacted them individually to see what days and times they would be available. Through many conversations back and forth, the co-founders decided to hold workshop sessions, interactive sessions, and interview sessions based on the artist’s availability. The workshop’s theme was “newspaper theatre” while the interactive and interview sessions focused on discussions with artists and their thoughts on their creations. We learned a lot about the process each artist had to undergo, which was usually unconventional because most of them were unable to travel because of COVID-19 and had to film at their homes.
I was in charge of conducting the mini-workshop sessions. Unlike most theatre workshops, ours focused on the performance-related aspects of newspaper theatre, which was invented by Augusto Boal and is all about creating dramatic works based on news articles, books, or speeches that show the world’s current circumstances. As we decided it would not be feasible to have all artists present online at the same time due to time differences, sessions were made rotational, with artists grouped with those who live in a similar or the same time zone. The workshops were conducted through Zoom, which meant that there were limitations as to the extent of interaction. Each artist was asked to bring one newspaper article and share how the content had inspired him or her. One recurring theme that was shared throughout the workshop sessions was news from Egypt. I was especially struck by a female interviewee who masqueraded as a man every day to protect her child because of the severe gender inequality in Egypt.
|[Photo of mini-workshop with artists on Zoom. Photo Credit: Ashley Minju Song]|
The workshop sessions were inspiring because I was able to learn so much about how truly diverse the world’s cultures are by region, country, and family background. The PPF was not only a theatre workshop but also an opportunity for each of the participants to learn about current events that are relevant to other countries and how these can be used to create art. Overall, I was surprised by how productive and enjoyable this festival was, and we are looking forward to many more festivals that are just as creative and inspiring as the 2020 one.
Ashley Minju Song
Senior (Grade 12)
Ashley Minju Song email@example.com
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