Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Day 10: "Union, Union, Union!"

Today was the second day of a three part "Theatre of the Oppressed" lesson, which revolved more around acting and live action role playing. As usual, we began class with our daily ritual of Qi-gong to illuminate our minds and prepare them to absorb all the knowledge that would soon be handed to us. Afterward, we began the actual day with a very interesting exercise that revolved around, essentially, a one-sided conversation between two people. In it, only one person could speak for a full minute while their partner was forced to remain silent throughout it. We were given a series of prompts that we had to discuss about in the minute which revolved around what our experiences had been about the lesson so far and how we would change something about ourselves. It reality it was a bit strange being the center of a discussion without receiving any form of verbal feedback or communication. Next, we moved on to a different exercise that was centered around opposites. The objective was simple: do the opposite of everything we were told. When told walk forward, for example, we had to walk backwards, when told to walk fast, we walked slow. At first this challenge was rather difficult, which made me come to the realization how instinctual certain commands had become subconsciously. Doing the opposite of what I was told took me a while to accustom to but eventually it became second-nature to adhere to each command. In my eyes, I felt that this was a representation of the society we live in. At first, doing something that goes against normality goes against everything we know, but eventually it can become habitual where one is able to do something without any hesitation. After a while, we came back together as a class and began to talk about how each exercise had influenced us. Eventually, when everyone had said all their thoughts, we split off into the acting groups we had been set up in yesterday. The plan was that we had to develop a series of stage pictures that would outline what the subject of our overall skit. As a group we came to an accordance on the issue of, the influence that parents have on their children, in terms of what they say and do in private and what they do in public. It was interesting to hear how everyone in the group had in someway had experienced similar situations in various different forms. Last on our agenda for the session was an example of a "forum" which a type of skit that allowed the audience to interpret what was happening on stage. Over the course of the forum, the class began to frame together a fictional story that would revolve around the scene that was playing out before us. It was interesting to see how mere movements and subtle gestures could embody a variety of different interpretations within each individual.  

In the second session, our group skits were the primary focus. To begin we had to frame together a series of three different poses that would serve as our beginning, middle and end. For ours, we framed the story around a young girl who was part of a very religious family that accepted her humanitarian beliefs, but did not support her in advertising or associating herself them over social media. The intention of each scene was to portray the struggle she faced as she was conflicted with the mixed signals she received from her parents and furthermore the affects over which this had over her personal beliefs. Planning for these skits took up the majority of the afternoon. When the day was close to ending, we gathered together to actually act a few of them out in front of the whole class. It was interesting to see how each group elected a different topic, yet they were all in someway alike. That, even though, everyone came from different backgrounds, we all still shared common experiences.

After class I was set and ready for the event many of my classmates, floormates and I had signed up for, the soccer match between the Philadelphia Unions against the New York Red Bulls. Surprisingly enough, many of the friends I had made here were immense aficionados of the sport, so it was great to attend an event that linked us to a similar passion. In addition, it was also an incredible cultural experience. I had attended games before in California, but this was the first time I would be seeing a game in a different state. To my surprise, the environment was almost identical. On each side you had die-hard fans who would cheer and sing at the top of their lungs for the entire match. As the game played on, it was remarkable to see how passionate each of us became over each play and each near-goal shot. With a large portion coming from all over the East Coast, many had different opinions over who they felt should win, but in the end the Philadelphia Unions triumphed with a remarkable 3-1 victory.
Philadelphia Unions vs. New York Red Bulls
Overall, today was a great day that not only allowed me to get closer to others, but also allowed me to delve deep into my emotions and portray them physically. In addition, I also got to spend a memorable time with the friends I had made here at UPenn while watching something that united our passion for soccer.

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