On the ground activism

Street theater is another kind of activism on campus.

There has been an increase in student groups incorporating theatrical art into various movements. Street theater is a theatrical performance that is free to the audience, usually in a location with high traffic.

Two performances in front of Coffman Union sparked the interest of many walkers – a Cola-Cola performance connecting the beverage to murders in Colombia by the Students United for Corporate Responsibility and Ethics as well as a Guantanamo Bay recreation by the Al-Madinah Cultural Center. What better way to convey Coca-Cola’s connection with the murder of union workers in Colombia than lying near a Coke machine pretending to be dead with red liquid on your body and the surrounding area.

Another theatrical performance on campus included students advertising for a social justice event about torture and detainment. Three men in jeans and orange T-shirts were standing handcuffed with black garbage bags around their faces in a fenced area. They stood silently – reminding all passers-by of those detainees in Guantanamo Bay. While death and torture can never be recreated or mimicked, it’s important to reflect the reality of the situations that people are in. In fact, street theater proves to be very effective and educational. Street theater is a better way of politicking than conventional methods because it brings to life and imitates events in a manner where it forces people to experience a reality of what is being acted.

There is a shock element involved in street theater, and it exposes students to issues in a creative way that they wouldn’t perhaps otherwise be willingly exposed to. Much of campus activism goes ignored, and interest and advocacy-based groups often advertise vigorously to attract an audience before they even have an opportunity to educate about a cause.

Street theater doesn’t require those involved to seek the attention of students; because this type of theater takes places in public spheres, anyone walking by is part of the audience.

Activism is not necessarily about fliering and protests; street theater is one of the many ways that students groups could integrate creativity and art into activism.