Performance as Social Activism at Performing the World

Guest post submitted by Performing the World participant: Lauren Jacobs

The seventh Performing the World Conference, convened by the All Stars Project and the East Side Institute, October 4-7, attracted 450+ performance advocates from 37 countries to the  All Stars Headquarters on 42 Street in Manhattan. The question of the weekend:  Can Performance Save the World?

A plenary presentation, The Therapeutic Power of Performance, moderated by Lois Holzman and featuring, Hector Aristizábal, Lenora Fulani, Artin Göncü, Lin Ching Hsia, Christine LaCerva, and Charles Rojzman, raised concerns poetic and political. WATCH VIDEO HERE.

Fulani: Young people in poor communities of color are related to negatively — in terms of  who they are — rather than in terms of who they are becoming.

LaCerva:  How do we help create environments that allow us all to be who we are not?

Aristizábal:  We become policemen of our own imagination. I invite everyone to play…Art is where humanity heals…

A second plenary moderated by Dan Friedman, What Are We Performing and How Do We Know That? featured a presentation by NYU performance studies pioneer Richard Schechner with panelists Marcelo Bratke, Chang Janaprakal Chandruang, David Diamond, Kevin Moore, and Helen White.  WATCH VIDEO HERE.

Schechner:  “By playing deeply, we can explore and build relationships, cross borders, engage in lifelong study, and grow by becoming ourselves and someone else!” 

Friedman: “Performance is an intensely creative and social activity that allows us to develop by creating something new from what exists….We understand oppression, but knowing it doesn’t change it; you change it by the creative process of re-performing it…Performance is social activism.”

Diamond: “Transformation happens from the heart. Let’s not simply tear down what we don’t want – Let’s build what we do want.”

As a result of our participation in this year’s Performing the World conference, that’s exactly what we’ve begun to do.

For photos, videos, program, and presenter snapshots, please check out the website,, and visit Performing the World on Facebook.


About Janet Wootten

Janet Wootten is a media and public relations professional, a member of the Institute’s Board of Directors and a leader of its annual community fundraising campaign.
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