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The gestures of participatory art$
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Sruti Bala

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781526100771

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526100771.001.0001

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Unsolicited gestures of participation

Unsolicited gestures of participation

(p.80) 3 Unsolicited gestures of participation
The gestures of participatory art

Sruti Bala

Manchester University Press

Chapter III examines one workshop setting using the methodological framework of the Theatre of the Oppressed in the context of a political party-led women’s empowerment programme in rural South India, launched in 2013. The analysis focuses on identifying instances and moments of unsolicited participation in a theatrical format explicitly defined as participatory. I question the status of participatory art in the developmental context as forging cohesion and understanding amongst participants and instead turn to its ambiguities. The analysis of participation seeks to link the macro-dimension of participation in social development with the micro-dimension of community theatre practice. Of particular interest is how participation occurs by way of a nuanced range of reactions, with functions ranging from the disruptive to the ameliorative. The case study calls for methodological attention to ancillary activities that take place at the margins of the theatre event. The chapter argues for paying attention to the gestures of participation that may not find their way into discursive iteration, because the gestures may arise out of the very impossibility of such an iteration in language or in formal conventions.

Keywords:   Theatre of the Oppressed, interactive theatre, unsolicited participation, gesture as gag, participatory development

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