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Reviving Ghanaian Theatre: Theatre in Ghana - Development, Methods and Resources

Emelia Asiedu ('11); Mentor: Arthur Horowitz

Abstract: My research focused on Ghanaian theatre, which dates back to pre-colonial times and gained more popularity during and after colonization. It was a form of entertainment for the locals and involved performances that satirically addressed societal issues. The art form, though present in the rural areas of Ghana, started to lose its popularity with the emergence of film, which is more convenient for performers and could reach a much larger amount of people. Thus came the slow but steady decline of Ghanaian cultural elements portrayed in performance and a tendency towards Western ideas. Ghanaian theatre is in a state where it must try to balance local culture and relevant societal issues with acquired foreign ideas and create an appealing mix of the two in order to spark the interest of the audience. I plan to expand on my research for my Senior Thesis Project.
Funding provided by The Faucett Family Foundation, Curtain Raisers Fund

Juxtaposing Justice: Performance Studies in the Memorial of the Rwandan Genocide and Oscar Grant III

Arielle Brown ('11); Masharika Theatre*; Erik Ehn†; Mentor: Arthur Horowitz
*Interdisciplinary Genocide Studies Center, Rwanda; †Theatre Dept, Brown University, Providence, RI

Abstract: This research explores the complexities of justice after the Rwandan- Tutsi Genocide. I researched how Rwanda has worked collectively to maintain healing approaches to finding communal justice for the victims and perpetrators of the genocide. My interdisciplinary research included listening to personal testimonies, witnessing memorial cites, review of Rwanda’s prison and judicial systems and the application of my research into a playback performance at the Centre by Centre Theatre festival in Kigali, Rwanda. Rwanda serves as a spring board from which we might question how justice plays out on a larger intersectional world stage. This inquiry led me to collect testimonies from the family of Oscar Grant III, who was killed by a Bart Police officer on New Years of 2009. The culmination of this research is a work-in-progress performance piece that explores how Justice for Oscar Grant and in Rwanda might be served through personal, communal and national memory.
Funding provided by The Faucett Family Foundation

The Human Scale: Autheticity through Artifice

Samuel Gold ('11); Mentor: Thomas Leabhart

Abstract: In creating Corporeal Mime, Etienne Decroux sought to turn the human body into a musical instrument, creating individual notes by breaking the body down into precise articulations. When taken alone, these individual movements might appear to objectify the performer by turning the body into precise machinery of power— an image complementary to the archetypal modernist aesthetic of automata and mechanical mass production. Yet, this initial impression runs contrary to the ultimate aspirations of the form. As one of Decroux’ first students, Jean-Louis Barrault, writes, “There should be, deep in every actor, an element of the robot. The function of art is to lead this robot toward the natural.” Working as Thomas Leabhart’s assistant, I explored the artistic and pedagogical methods through which we may attempt to set these initially contradictory qualities into a performative dialogue, as well as the rich history of aesthetic and performance theory in which they reside.
Funding provided by The Faucett Family Foundation

Writing Mime

John Maidman ('11); Mentor: Thomas Leabhart

Abstract: A while back I performed with other Pomona students in a mime play on campus. Afterwards when my friends were congratulating me, one said, "It was really good! What did it mean?" I said something plausible sounding. But his question stuck with me, or rather the problem it posed. I don't think that mime is an inaccessible medium. I find that some ideas are even clearer when we show them with our bodies than when they are described with words. But sometimes in the hunt to find the abstract beauty of a particular movement, its essential meaning is lost. Through a summer of studying mime and considering how one can write a comprehensible mime play, I've tried through both spoken words and movement, to explore an idea that is as deep as itself and as meaningful as one makes it: the frustration and clumsy difficulty of reading a newspaper.
Funding provided by The Paul K. Richter and Evalyn E. Cook Richter Award

Research at Pomona