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Beijing fei$hoada {f$}

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The Beijing fei$hoada happened in two parts on Saturday, June 22nd (2013) during a forum on ‘Independent Theatre in China’ at the Nanluoguxiang Performing Arts Festival, which is put on by the Pengoaren Theatre. Cao Xi (of Drama Rainbow) helped to emcee a long table discussion with the directors of independent theatres from 10 Chinese cities and the general audience. The second part of the fei$hoada was a street action working with the youth from Drama Rainbox, Cao Xi’x company.

Originally, I {Todd Lester} was asked by the festival to give a lecture on ‘The Role of the Arts in Setting Public Policy’ … I offered to do so with research from the Lanchonete Project, and more broadly, linking Brazil’s bus fare increase and police brutality protests to uprisings in Turkey and Egypt.  After a brief presentation that also included some thoughts on and definitions of {public} policy, I shifted to the central question that had emerged from the Forum, ‘To be or not to be – Spiritually Independent Theatres?’ Here are the definitions:

- Declared State objectives relating to the health, morals, and well being of the citizenry.

- The fundamental policy on which laws rest, especially policy not yet enunciated in specific rules.

- A plan or course of action, as of a government, political party, or business, intended to influence and determine decisions, actions, and other matters.

- Management or procedure based primarily on material interest.

- Prudence or wisdom in the management of affairs; and

- A ‘Policy Makes Politics’ tradition that :

"Views policymaking as shaped by the tasks the policy tries to pursue, it follows that it is the policy that creates the politics of the policymaking process.  Policy is, so to speak, its own cause…Organizations, inter-organizational relations, and institutional analysis fit in part as an extension of the field of implementation, since any program requires an organization to carry out its mission and thus questions of the functioning of bureaucracy cannot be bypassed…The policy process is shaped by the differences in the substantive domains of policy: distributive, redistributive, and regulation.” Rein (2003)

Working with local playwright, Cao Xi (of Drama Rainbow), we used the Long Table to invite all the audience members to change seating positions.  Once they were seated around the table on stage and the process was described, Cao Xi blended the two topics (policy and independent theatre) to lead a charged discussion that spilled over into the lunch period an hour later.  We used these questions to get the discussion going —- What distinguishes the experience of your theatre, in your city?  What aspiration do you have?  What untapped opportunities are there?  What’s the next future?

See the resulting programme insert, which contains documentation of the discussion and street action. Check out the Festival’s Public Forum … and see images from the two-part event.

Read about other fei$hoada here!

About

Todd Lester writes a monthly blog post on RU’s Dialogues detailing the preparation and implementation of Lanchonete.org, a 5-year residency project in Sao Paulo.

Lanchonete.org celebrates São Paulo‘s ubiquitous lunch counters and their role in the life of the Center. Lanchonete.org invites a group of international artists to reside in – and thus develop a relationship with – the Center of São Paulo, its citizens, institutions, issues and patterns. Begun as a research process, the project materializes into a community-owned restaurant over its five-year duration, and leaves behind a management structure - Associação Espaço Cultural Lanchonete - to contend with the inherent responsibilities of such an endeavor.

View all Lanchonete posts here.

Latest Lanchonette Posts:

2016.5 – Lanchonete.org on ATAQUE!

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2016.4 – Lanchonete.org on Queer City

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Photo Raphael Daibert