theatre of radical compassion
My peer and friend, Kristina Friedgen, and I have been co-imagining a toolbox and approach for theatre-making called "Theatre of Radical Compassion," abbreviated TRC. This work stems from our desire to consider how to harness theatre's potential to foster compassion that extends into tangible change and action. We pull from artists and scholars such as adrienne maree brown, Augusto Boal, Bertolt Brecht, Tess Onwueme, Jemar Tisby, Sonya Renee Taylor, Davina Cooper, and Judith V. Jordan.
The current vision statement for TRC is:
TRC facilitates everyday disruptions of dysfunctional, dehumanizing structures through compassionate action and interpersonal connection.
everybody at ASU
In October 2021, ASU produced Everybody by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, directed by Kristina Friedgen. I filled the role of "Rehearsal Facilitator" on the show. Kristina and I tested and put into practice many aspects of our TRC model in this production, including how we organize the production, conduct the rehearsal process, and approach audience engagement. My work specifically focused on how we can view the rehearsal process as a space (1) to practice on the small scale the social change we want to see on the big scale and (2) to grow relationships that uplift us and empower us to act in our everyday lives. Through this process, we learned clearer routes for establishing an environment of greater care and collaboration both through "successes" and "mistakes."
In August 2021, Kristina and I presented a workshop titled "Distance and Connection in Theatre of Radical Compassion" for the Directing Debut Panel at ATHE's 2021 Conference. This workshop uses methodologies from TRC to consider how directors can use distance to facilitate, rather than inhibit, connection within their productions.
In July 2022, Kristina and I will be presenting at ATHE in the Directing Focus Group on a panel titled "Consent and Caring: Approaches for Responsive Spaces." Our specific presentation will describe our experience implementing TRC into ASU's production of Everybody. It is titled "Rehearsing Care: Prioritizing Wellbeing through a Care-Filled Rehearsal Space," and we will demonstrate how our ongoing investment in care amplified a humanizing model of professional practice and an inclusive environment in which student artists found the freedom to be more present, creative, collaborative, and fulfilled.