Someone once said the first way to find your sense of direction is to acknowledge you are lost take in the information around you and use it to make sense of your position. Makes sense, no? For a week in Mecca, about 20 participants questioned their position in their respective communities. Issues of Ageism, Poverty, Documentation, Ecological Health, and Gender Binaries. Storytelling, sharing through poetry, art and theater became our way of piecing together our story as a community together. Each year F.I.R.M.E.’s (Film Inquiry Research and Media Education) approach has been different in delivery through video, printmaking, journalism, and even photography. It has however remained the same in contextualizing, questioning and giving voice to the stories all around no matter the medium.
This past summer our program shifted mediums once again and encompassed performance, writing and photography. The critical analysis provided in these sessions had participants dig deep starting as we all do with Identity and through a progression of poetry and games built out our perspectives to our interconnectivity and interrelations. While most people will gladly watch a performance it is difficult to imagine oneself as the performer. Although Augusto Boal introduces us all as performers in daily life through Theater of the Oppressed theories it can be intimidating to perform for an audience. To allow ourselves to be comfortable a series of games helped to begin questioning ourselves, our lives and families. These games were at the core of the week long camp. Posing as statues, shouting and whispering poetry. Everyone who started on day one stuck through and performed amazingly after only one week. The final presentations were brilliant representations in four performance styles the groups were randomly assigned. Silent Theater, Poetry, Song and Teatro Campesino style presentations.
As a final presentation all of the groups performed throughout Mecca in Guerilla Style street theater as they came up to unsuspecting audiences. “ Caien se Cabrones nos train arte!” Shouted a day laborer outside as he quieted the crowd of men awaiting work outside of the supermarket in Mecca.( “Shut up, They are bringing us art!”), Despite the 118 degree weather the performances all went well. To wrap up our storytelling camp all our participants, sponsors and families broke bread and celebrated our communities interconnections and the individual stories in between.