Prof. sees politics through theatre lens

With the art of body movement and Theatre of the Oppressed (TO) tactics, Janet Gray, professor of women’s and gender studies, challenged logic in the Social Sciences Building last Thursday in the Politics Forum series facilitated by Miriam Lowi, professor of political science.

The title, “Wear Comfortable Clothes and be Prepared to Move: Articulating Politics with Theatre Games,” let the audience know it wouldn’t be a pen-and-pad discussion.

Lowi introduced Gray’s interpretation as an “exposure to multidisciplinarity.”

The starting point for Gray’s forum was the environmental conservation efforts of the College.

She replaced the lectern with an African ashiko drum played by alumnus John Holmok and used a chain of kinetic and auditory physical sculptures to express the opposing forces associated with a green agenda.

Students and faculty formed and interacted with bodily structures that answered the three tiers of effective TO practices: What? So What? And Now What?

“People aren’t used to consulting their bodies as a part of the learning experience,” Gray said.

Oppression, for purposes of TO techniques, is an instance where one person is dominated by the monologue of another without the opportunity to respond.

Gray felt this path of exploration was the perfect channel for opening up meaning beyond bipartisanship.

“TO eliminates the thought and uses pure emotion,” Gray said. “(TO) gets out a different layer of the experience.”

“We were first uncomfortable because we were, for the most part, interacting with total strangers, but within five minutes we all let loose and let our bodies teach us something,” Liz Milnes, sophomore art history major, said.

“I didn’t expect to have that much fun learning,” she said.

Students and faculty came prepared to think like intellectuals, but Gray taught them not to factor out intuition in the development of thought.

“It was definitely a unique take on the approach to talking about politics,” Damian Cinotti, sophomore international studies major, said.

“I never thought of a concept like that . but I appreciated it,” he said.

The next politics forum will take place Nov. 6 in the New Library Auditorium from 11:30-1 p.m.

It will feature three of the College’s faculty members and an unknown New Jersey politician discussing the results of the upcoming presidential election on Nov. 4.