Improvisation Drama on Race
Improvisation is a kind of activity done without preparation. Participants are asked to create a scene, speak, act, react, and move without preparing. The decisions for what to say or do are made on the spot. Each person is assigned a role.
Have people act out the various characters. Staging can be done within a workshop setting or like guerrilla theater (the presentation of short propaganda plays or skits, usually on sociopolitical themes, as war or repression, often on the streets or in other non-theater locations.) Audiences can be invited to give feedback and also coaching of actors on what they should say or do.
The basics are provided:
Who the characters are — characteristics
What they want – motivation
Where they are — place
When used as a role-playing exercise this workshop Values Clarification Exercise worked extremely well as improv theater.
Or for a simpler version, try this one out:
Person of color: Church member
• characteristics – outspoken, strong, brilliant, spirit-centered, activist, long-time church member, feels called by inner Light to address concerns about racism
• motivation-passionate about justice, feels need to speak in worship about the spiritual component of concern, wants to be taken seriously; specifically concerned that the Human Rights Commission has lost all its funding.
Church Board President
• characteristics — controlling, opinionated, longtime church family, not spirit-centered, always right
• motivation — wants church to run easily and smoothly with no disruptions, needs to be the one and only “large and in charge,” not shy about insisting that people submit to their authority
White Church member
• characteristics ——go along get along, intentionally projects gentleness and love but actually ego-centered
• Motivation – wants to worship in only silence, peace and quiet, believe in the colorblind approach, racism no longer exists, resists and resents being pushed out of comfort zone. Thinks prayer alone is all that is needed.
Another Church member (other characters can be added to this category depending on the number of participants)
• characteristics — environmentalist, peace activist, holds simplicity as a priority
• motivation — wants Meeting to participate more in rallies for above concerns, believes we are all good people, wants Quakers to look good to the outside world
Ally of person of color: fellow Church member
• characteristics – dedicated to justice, attends workshops, forms relationships, spiritually committed
• motivation — wants to address racism in a proactive way, concerned about the feelings of white people, wants to keep things from escalating
Ally of Board President
• characteristics — back up and take action on attitudes and behavior of the person in power
• motivation — preserve status quo, protect and promote a sense of being in authority
1st Location: church service
2nd Location: coffee hour after worship
White Church member demands an apology from Person of color
Queries: After acting this out –
What patterns do you see emerging?
What are the root assumptions that are being carried?
What and where are the conflicts? the real underlying conflict?