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Students study theatre-as-social-change-agents abroad in Serbia

June 30, 2014 at 7:50 am

After a conversation about another collaborative, international theatre project--originating from a Beloit Blocks course she taught last summer, EraseHER!--Associate Professor of Theatre Arts Amy Sarno decided to create another project with Beloit students, this time in Hungary and Serbia.

Amy Sarno 3 

In looking back at notes she once took while abroad in Serbia, “I was struck by the way the Hungarian [theatre] companies were using movement and traditional texts to discuss national political issues,” she says. “I got online to see whether this sort of thing was still what Hungarian theatre was doing and discovered many companies confronted by increasing censorship and funding dilemmas that seemed similar to what Serbian companies had gone through during Milosevic days.” This inspired her to create the theatre class Taking Action, an interdisciplinary course exploring how performance can instigate social change.

This summer, Sarno, English Professor Shawn Gillen (who was teaching a writing course on politics and resistance), and 17 Beloit students traveled to Europe for three weeks.

“Part of the challenge I encountered in creating a course that really focused precisely on performance, politics, and resistance was the fact that the Hungarian artists I met were hesitant to discuss the topic,” Sarno says, of the group’s time in Budapest. “No one was ever direct with me about their reluctance, but I sensed that there were concerns about losing government funding.” In Serbia, the students worked with Dah Teatar, which was started as a resistance voice, and there, Beloiters worked to create a performance piece about ending the exploitation of women.

The end result? A 25-minute theatre piece, which will be re-cast in the fall with Beloit students, and possibly performed on campus in the spring.

Below, you can see some photos of Sarno and the Beloit students’ time in Hungary and Serbia.

Amy Sarno 1Amy Sarno 2