How to create support networks and build life-affirming institutions together?
“At the same time, different bodies have emerged everywhere – the objects of racist, sexual and gender-based violence: women-, trans-, lesbian-, intersex-, anti-racist movements and those working for the benefit of people with different cognitive and functional abilities…” – in this way Paul B. Preciado wrote about the wave of resistance to the oppression encoded in the invisible rules of the institutions of the liberal democratic world, which has been rapidly rising for several years.
Resistance to inequality and violence, combined with demands for change in social institutions, is felt with particular force in the cultural world. This also applies to theatre and theatre schools. In many European countries, such as Poland, the Czech Republic and Greece, it is in theatre schools that the strongest-sounding demands for change have been articulated in recent years, revealing normalised violence of a structural nature and initiating an institutional transformation of the entire system, both at schools and theatres. The #MeToo and Black Lives Matter, as well as other movements for social justice towards marginalised groups, are influencing change in theatre education across Europe, contributing to the development of safety procedures, transforming curricula, influencing change in employment structures and recruitment mechanisms.
The scale and pace of these transformations varies, and depending on the country and cultural background, the priorities for transformation are also different. The process of change is evaluated differently. There is no shortage of voices both criticising its superficiality and semblance, as well as pointing out excessive radicality of the demands and the dangers they pose. Recognition of the various forms of backlash is accompanied by indications of the strengthening phenomena of victimhood culture and cancel culture. The debate is taking place everywhere, and its in-depth and diverse nature is in the interest of us all.
For three days in Warsaw, we will discuss how we can change theater schools. How do we create tools to support safety, diversity and accessibility in our institutions? How to reveal and disarm spaces of discrimination? How to resist precarity and mechanisms of (self)exploitation? How to queer and cripp theater schools? How to create support networks and build life-affirming institutions together?