“Being right is not good enough”
People crowded on the streets, carrying placards and banners, chanting same old slogans for hours. What did they want? What did they scream for? We don’t remember coz this looked like any other protest. How do we make people remember, think about the cause we fight for? First of all, avoid clichés says Larry Bogad American writer, performer and teacher specialising in protest theatre. Make it the best performance you can. In his talks Bogad explains how can you make the protest memorable (and therefore more effective) using techniques typical to theatre performance. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t carefully plan something spontaneous. During cold war in the U.S. civil rights movement organised sit-ins in white only lunch counters. Mixed race people demanding to be served in white only area were beaten and spit on, having food dropped on their head and cigarette smoke blown into their face. They didn’t fight back nor cry, they just sat there. One of the reasons why these sit-ins were so effective was because they were previously rehearsed. Students took turns and practised how to remain calm while being so abused. The other thing that made this protest unique was the promise of a better future. By demanding to be served in segregated areas they enacted the world they would want to life in where the colour of your skin won’t determine where can you go.
“The most successful political actions (…) don’t just demand or block something, they put our dreams on display, they don’t just say NO, but they show how else we could live.”
Jordan, John and Grindon, Gavin ( ). A User’s Guide to (Demanding) The Impossible. pp22
In his talk (link below) Bogad shows several different examples of how to implement theatrical tricks onto protests. Some of them funny, some drastic, some extremely sad. One thing they all have in common – lack of boredom.