“There’s a lot of different groups in the City where you can go and sit in a room and talk about your story with other, you know, like-minded people who’ve experienced it. And that can be really cathartic, but that’s about it. Whereas this [Performance Exchange] really gave us the opportunity to feel like there could be change happening if we continue to have different… our performance, other performances in the same method, that if the right people will listen then change can happen.”
— Performer-advocate, TSDC Performance Exchange with All of Us Together and We Need to Talk!
From the project’s outset, we recognized the value of bringing the plays, and their performer-advocates, into conversation, not only with audiences, but also with one another. One way we did this was through Performance Exchanges, events where a single audience is invited and two plays are performed. We hosted two Performance Exchanges with the TSDC plays All of Us Together and We Need to Talk! Unfortunately, we were unable to do our intended Performance Exchange with TSDC’s last two plays When My Home is Your Business and Choose Your Destination. There were assorted reasons for this, but the one that presented the greatest obstacle was performer availability. (We’ll talk more about these obstacles and our thoughts about alternative ways to re-mount plays while remaining accountable to their performer-creators in Prompting Ongoing Conversations!)
Performance Exchanges provide both performer-advocates and audiences with an opportunity to consider the relationships between the concerns raised in performances by different constituencies. This kind of cross-pollination of ideas and visions for the future can broaden performers’ and audience members’ sense of the social importance of the stories created, and the ways social movements might form around them. When a Performance Exchange isn’t possible, another way we work to facilitate this kind of cross-pollination is by inviting performer-advocates from previous plays to attend more recent productions and participate in post-performance activities and conversations.
Whether part of a Performance Exchange or not, all TSDC plays are meant to act as creative platforms that work to foster more inclusive and expansive engagement in discussions about the future of the Cities we live in. At its core, this is a movement building goal. This means we don’t see the plays as isolated or independent events. We deliberately frame performances and post-performance activities in a way that we hope will cultivate ongoing conversations (with performer-advocates and audiences) about the themes that the plays address.