Art asks questions, but rarely does it expect an answer. This wasn’t the case for the Divided States of America, a performance and discussion at Emory & Henry on Feb. 20.
As part of a series of “DIY performance events” mobilized by Bad and Nasty, Kelly Bok presented part of her senior thesis and asked the audience to get involved. Based on the idea of forum theatre created by Augusto Boal, the event sought to facilitate dialogue about the recent political climate.
Forum theatre makes the audience as much a part of the performance as the actors, and that’s just what Divided State of America did.
Through various means, the performers asked the audience to engage physically, emotionally, and intellectually with each other and the issues facing the country today. Bok’s idea was that through listening and discussion, people might gain a better understanding of the people around us and how to deal with what’s going on.
Many people felt apprehensive and even fearful of the new administration’s agenda, while others had a more “wait and see” approach. Some were directly affected by many of the issues discussed — the travel ban, the Affordable Care Act, fake news, the women’s marches and “the wall.” Some felt fear not for themselves, but for their loved ones.
The night ended on a bright note as Bok asked each audience member to stand and share something that brought them hope.