Presbyterian College students recently performed the play Intersections as part of the “Theatre for Social Change” course. Intersections is an original play devised by the students about the ways in which laws are interpreted and applied in the South.
This particular play was a Newspaper Theatre piece, based on the work of Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppression, which encourages the use of open themes. In Newspaper Theatre, community participants collect material from newspapers and, through a menu of exercises, create a scene that comments both on a specific issue in society and on the inherent biases in the media.
In this case, the students explored the concept of borders and boundaries. They focused specifically on laws regarding racial equality, gay marriage, and the separation of church and state, and explored the intersections between the clarity in these laws intended to break down barriers in society, and the complexity of how these laws play out in real life.
The PC Department of Theatre’s student-created works are staged every semester through team-taught collective-creation classes. PC’s ensemble-generated theatre has led to the formation of the Centre for Devised Theatre. The program is the only one of its kind in the southeast that focuses on the production of original student works. Additionally, all the productions are intended to challenge the audience to think about important issues in society.
“As a theatre housed in a liberal arts college it was important to us that we focus on theatre’s place in society as a medium for illuminating issues and encouraging debate, and that’s why we developed a course of study that focuses on social issues,” said Lesley Preston, PC professor of theatre. “There is a lot of value in theatre as entertainment, but we decided to focus our attention on how theatre can be used by citizen artists as a valuable part of the democratic process in all of our courses. One of the most exciting aspects of this new focus for me is listening to students and faculty discussing issues raised in our plays.”
In addition to student-created plays, the theatre program requires students to do a professional internship in the field of theatre, and the students are also encouraged to participate in theatre study abroad experiences. Additionally, the department has an ongoing relationship with Theatre 99 in Charleston for improvisation training.
For more information contact Ms. Preston at email@example.com.
For a listing of the cast and their hometowns click here.