Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Officially Introducing Rogue Pedagogy

Starting a new business takes a bit of energy and patience. That energy and patience must be multiplied when your new business is (technically) a theatre company, you're doing it (technically) by yourself, and you (technically) don't have much money to lay out for it.

Of course, Rogue Pedagogy is different from a regular theatre company in a number of ways. For one, our—I use “our” when talking about Rogue, even though for all intents and purposes Rogue is really just “me” at the moment—our definition of “theatre” is more broadly defined. Grotowski boils it down to two basic ingredients: an actor and a spectator. What interests us is the sort of exchange that happens, first, between the actor and spectator, whether in what is generally considered a “normal” theatrical setting or not; but also, in what happens when, as Boal has shown, you begin to turn the spectator into the actor. We are interested in this exchange because of something Diana Taylor has said, which is that performance can (and should) be taken seriously as a means of keeping and transferring knowledge (and memory—she sort of uses the two terms interchangeably, which is perhaps not wrong).

Which leads us to the educational component of Rogue, the “Pedagogy” part. It's a bit of a loaded word, as someone told me when I was explaining about the company. Nonetheless, it captures something of what Rogue is after. I've mentioned before that the phrase “Rogue Pedagogy” was coined by a professor of mine, Ann Pellegrini, to describe, in part, the work I was doing on my thesis. The intention was to say that we were presenting “pedagogy gone rogue” and not some sort of method of instructing aspiring thieves. But thievery is not out of the question, in the sense that knowledge should be (and, really, is) free for the taking. Harney and Moten have outlined their ideas on the “undercommons,” that place which exists outside of but also within the university as a means of knowledge and idea exchange. In the stories of Robin Hood, the outlaws are made to look like thieves by a put-upon government, when in reality it was a band of citizens trying to rightfully take back what was theirs from a thieving monarch. A methodology for this take-back of knowledge comes from Rancière, who asserts the existence of universal intelligence among humans—everyone is born with the same amazing, almost magical, ability to learn. Intelligence is not quantifiable; it either is, or it isn't. Therefore, if everyone can learn, then what can we do to not stand in the way? What can we do to help without creating a force of “stultification” (Rancière's word) in learners? This is a problem area Rogue seeks to explore through theatre, through performing arts, through workshops, through interfacing with educators.

Rogue's mission and philosophy covers a lot of ground. We are really hoping to make some difference in the world, even if it's a small one. There's too much ignorance in the world, which drives the divide we see socially and politically. There's too much de facto segregation in the culture industry, which bleeds into society, since art reflects life reflects art. We're hoping to find others who feel similarly, those who might be willing to help support us, especially in our fledgling stage. If you think this might be you, I would invite you to take a glance at our Patreon and consider becoming a patron.

We have announced our first thing, which is going to be a workshop for performers (although all are welcome to participate). My friend and artistic colleague Francesca Caviglia has agreed to lead a two- or three-session class called Body Work.

Starting a new business, a new project, can be tough. I'm really hoping what I'm doing with Rogue is something the world can use, and I've been feeling so strongly lately that we all need to be doing something about what's going on. If you have any thoughts about any of this, I would love to hear from you. Feel free to comment here, or contact Rogue directly through the various social media or the website.

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