I went to see a performance on Sproul Plaza by a aprt of Jana Natya Manch, a street theater company from Delhi, and later went to see a documentary about their work. From talking to Liz, I had thought that agit-prop really died in the early Soviet Union, but it’s alive and well in India. After years of watching the Mime Troupe’s ossified preaching-to-the-choir form of direct political appeal, JANAM’s methods and approach are refreshing and immediate. I don’t really know if the CPI(M) is the best option really, as I have a distrust of most political parties. One woman in the troupe talked a bit about this during the documentary — she was more interested in social change than political parties, but then realized that political parties should be about social change.
The flip-side is that their style would not work in the US. I have a lot of half-formed theories about this — the entrenchment of our two-party system, the fact that the economically downtrodden in the US have been duped into thinking that they are not as downtrodden as they are, and our curious predilection to be left alone all the time. People simply do not stop what they are doing or where they are going to see a piece of street theater.
Anyway, it was food for thought and food for blogging.
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not only will people not stop to see street theater, they won’t stop to see joshua bell (unidentified as such) playing the violin in a washington dc metro stop on a weekday during morning rush. this was an experiment done by teh washington post and mr. bell, and resulted in the great humbling of mr. bell as he watched person by person run by and not even look in his direction, much less cast coins. except the kids. the kids seemed to want to stop, but were rushed on by the busy parents. i don’t have the link, but this was an article in the post a few weeks back.