Collective Creation Theatre Class Presents "Broken Borders / earth's imagined corners" Dec. 7-8, 10-11
Collective Creation, a Pomona Theatre class taught by Prof. Thomas Leabhart, will present a new performance based on immigration and related issues, “Broken Borders / earth’s imagined corners,” on Dec. 7-8 in the Broad Center at Pitzer and Dec. 10-11 in the Seaver Theatre, Large Studio, at Pomona. All performances are at 8 p.m.
Through the fall semester, the students developed the performance based on interviews, posing questions about physical and mental border crossing and then developed the play using the documentary theatre techniques (sometimes known as “verbatim theatre”) devised by Anna Deveare Smith.
The theatre students are: Elisa Asdourian (PI), Grigoriy Gorshteyn (CMC), Cormac Lachaal (PI), Sarah Lopez (SC), Amber Neaves (PI), Sarah Taylor (SC), and Hunter Wolfson (PI). They are joined by guest artists Celia Dufournet and Noelie Morizot, research assistants in theatre, and Cesario Augusto Pimentel de Alencar, a Fulbright scholar and theatre professor from Brazil.
Material for the performance came from Niloofar Akhaven, Alex Gonzalez, Danielle Haskell, Grace Davila Lopez, Joo-Hyung Lee, Juman Nijim, Monique Saigal, Rosalie Taylor, StoryCorps and many anonymous contributors.
“'Collective Creation' seems to me to be such a vital way of working,” says Leabhart. “When you have an actor who has interviewed a subject and gotten under the skin of the personality and gotten to know them, it’s so much more personal. One of the things we said in the class is that this is a way of giving voice to the people we often don’t hear and giving voice to their stories. This is especially true with stories that are delicate or fragile. Sometimes people don’t feel ready to share them with the larger public, and this is another way. The students built relationships with all of the people they interviewed. Some invited them to dinner at their homes. There are people who went to a performance or who are coming to every performance because they are so thrilled their story is being told. It’s much more connected to the community than to literary tradition or historical drama.”
Leabhart first taught Collective Creation in the early 1980’s, early in his career at Pomona. “For that production students, interviewed their oldest living relatives and collected wonderful stories of coming to this country: walking from Mexico, sailing on a cattle boat from Europe, fleeing discrimination in Russia. That production, "Are We Who They Were?", we performed in Little Bridges.
“Last year, I picked up this thread again….[and] we worked with a text by Eduardo Galeano, the famous novelist from Uruguay, who gave us permission to use the texts in his book Mirrors if we came up with our own title. The class settled on "Slavery/Women/Writing: 21 Refracted Portraits Based on Writings by Eduardo Galeano."