“Community Theatre: A Radical and Inclusive Artform for Social Transformation”

2023-04-22 17:03:42

Virginia Martínez (coordinator of the Zonas Comunes community theater): “We are of radical inclusion”The newspaper

The collective and the territory are the essential ingredients of community theater, a concept that moves away from the traditional idea of ​​theater. This project arises from an initiative of Virginia Martinez y Sebastian Ramirezdirectors of Common zones. The residents of the neighborhoods of San José and El Gancho become protagonists of stories focused on their territory. A social transformation project that seeks to create dynamics different from the usual world, focusing on voices that are not usually on stage. “We try to turn things that look habitual on their head. We work from the diversity of ages, bodies, capacities and even availabilities», affirms the coordinator of this project.

a rehearsal day

On an ordinary rehearsal day at the Flour Mill, the key is play. The afternoon begins playing to remove embarrassment and have a good time. «The game in adults is very good and many bonds are created. We should learn more from the carelessness of children”, says Eva, a member of the community theater. In the second part, the game continues but in a more technical aspect and with the purpose of learning: voice projection, walking through space, placing oneself in the light… In the last part of the essay, it seeks to influence the improvisation. Groups of five or six groups are formed in which they talk about a topic. The idea of ​​these classes is that they are very collective; the community takes precedence over the role of the individual.

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This idea of ​​community theater moves from Buenos Aires, as Virginia Martínez affirms: «We live this reality in Argentina and we brought it to my hometown. Here people have passive access to culture and are spectators. They do not feel that they can produce on it, but that they usually leave artists ». This project is an initiative to exercise the «art as a right». The community theater coordinators intend to influence their purpose of bringing citizens closer to culture and claim that the stage “has to be a place for everyone.”

With this project it is sought that there is more diversity in the theater cast, since the traditional theater usually separates the ages. This initiative seeks the interpersonal relationship of colleagues of all ages, for example -the San José group has children from 8 years old to adults of 80-. «It seems to us that separating by age is lost wealth, what community theater brings new is the intergenerational work. This mix is ​​very interesting”, says Sebastián Ramírez.

The message that is intended to be transmitted resides between the concepts of art and social transformation and they are intertwined in the same path. His recent works ‘childhood’from the San José group and ‘The grass will always come back’ from the Grupo del Gancho are of their own creation. During rehearsals, a common idea is created among all that starts from the need to tell something. In these stories, the neighbors themselves are the protagonists with their first and last names. In the work of ‘Infantia’, the idea of ​​dramaturgy arises from the need of children to have more role in the plays and from there it is created: the voice of children in the adult world. This story has already been able to transmit its magic in four theater performances, but it is a “living process that improves with each performance.”

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This activity is completely free and there is no requirement to access. The financing falls in many ways: through public aid, by the Harinera, through the sale of tickets or even by voluntary contribution, since there are no mandatory fees. Some neighbors formed the Gancho group as an association to be able to help through further promotion or the sale of t-shirts and records to raise funds. «A level of self-management is handled that amazes me. It consists of giving opportunities to be able to organize and people take them and organize themselves”, Ramírez proudly declares, “a community has been generated that takes care of itself”.

antidote for depression

Rosa, who has been at the community theater of ZGZ Flour Mill, passionately describes her experience: “It’s like an antidote for depression and loneliness. It should be recommended by any doctor in his office ». Eva, her classmate for whom it is her first year, highlights the relationship between her classmates: «What I like the most are the personal relationships that are created as a group. Socialize with people of all ages and that adults also learn to play. It’s collective madness.”

As Ramírez confesses, community theater creates a special union among the residents of the same territory: «This idea of ​​bringing together people from the same neighborhood to organize themselves and be able to play; That the taxi driver makes a fool of himself just like you on stage and nothing happens or that children can talk to adults in another area, it does people good ». Martínez invites any citizen to be part of this community without any requirement: «Everyone has the door open. I like to say that we are radically inclusive, whatever your condition, come».

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