Devised Theater: A Venn Diagram

Devised Theater: A Venn Diagram
This diagram was created by the co-producing artistic directors of Rude Mechs to depict the complexity of creating and crediting collaboratively devised work for theatrical performance.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Questions/Comments for Tanya and Christian Torp

In preparation for our meeting with Tanya and Christian Torp, please post here your paragraph-long question or comment based on the 5 pieces assigned, which are posted below the cut.







  1. A Message of Tolerance

    It is nice to read that the signs the article discuss are in place in various places in the country, and that they are actually making people feel comfortable in certain spaces. I would like to see how people who may be against such positive notions of diversity react to the signs. Is there a change in empathy or fuel for anger?

    Wirelesshogan: Reflections from the Hogan

    Wow....Although I am aware of the history of oppression done to Native peoples by white peoples, the article lays it out in a way that brings the detailed information to a discussion that often just includes broad ideas regarding systematic abuse and oppression. Its also important that the article is constructed with the purpose to gain allies for the authors movement towards constructing a real tangible event/series of events that can begin to allow the problem that is still perpetuated by the government and people of the United States. I wonder about the progress of these movements in a now Trump presidency?

    1. Rev. Barber Piece

      What I really enjoyed about this piece, besides the fact that it had so much emotional power behind it, was that when discussing what we need to do in situations like these he went beyond making it about a republican/democrat/political thing and made it about what was morally right or wrong for human beings. I like that aspect of his piece because so often we get trapped in grouping our beliefs in a political left wing right wing category type way of thinking, and we spend effort on politicizing the oppression of people.

      Ted Talk

      Wow! This made me want to go out and garden. I think what he is doing to improve the food culture of the area where he is from is a fantastic method that tackles oppression in a way that in my mind, unless you are super hella problematic, positively affects and involves everyone in a community.

      Christian Torp Piece

      I really appreciate how the author takes the very massive historical idea that is systematic racism, oppression, and how it appears in our society today in a way that tightens the focus and brings the discussion down to what can we do in our own state and in our own communities. Often I feel we discuss the systematic issues, but we leave that there without an attempt to discuss how to tackle them with effective and easy to understand rhetoric.

  2. 1) I love seeing these signs, so to see how others are reacting to them in different communities is very interesting.
    2) This reminds me how important it is to check your privilege and to recognize that the world is still struggling with inequality, and to use that as a platform to help speak up in the fight against oppression.
    3) It's interesting to see how this piece highlights the fact that, sometimes, our history classes fail to mention important aspects in history. Why does so much get left out of the conversation?
    4) I love that this mentions the aspect of crime where people often get out of jail, only to return to crime because nothing was done to help them reintegrate themselves into society. This is definitely something that needs improving.
    5) The speaker's metaphor about soil being a canvas and gardening a way to "grow art" really resonated with me because I see so much art painted on the sides of buildings, but rarely any gardens growing along the bases of buildings. What are some things we can do to convince people to really step out and make decisions that will help the environment?

  3. 1) As someone whose first and only language is English, I take it for granted that practically every sign or message I see is in my native language. I think it is an important facet of representation that may not be discussed as often as forms such as having characters of different backgrounds included in movies and books. I think having different languages represented on signage should be commonplace as it is a simple way to send a welcoming message to people of different cultures even if that's not what the message itself is saying.
    2)Reverend Dr. Barber asks his congregation what kind of Christian takes away healthcare for those who need it simply because they don't like an African American leader and this stood out to me. So often, religion is used by the conservatives, the naysayers, and the oppressors but you rarely hear a politician pushing for social justice or equal rights use "because it's the Christian thing to do" as as defense for their viewpoints. Why is religion so often used to try to take away the rights of minorities and women but rarely used to justify needs based aid, healthcare, and the like? (I asked this question last year but it didn't get addressed and I feel it's even more pertinent given the current discussions of the ACA.)
    3)This article mentions that the Constitution of the United States is a systematically racist document. Anyone who paid attention in high school history class knows that and yet this article is still held up as the pinnacle of what is right and good about our country. Obviously amendments have been made and some of those helped to include groups in the promises on the Constitution but to my knowledge, no apology has been made for their initial exclusion. I feel this is an injustice that should be addressed.
    4 In your piece on HB 70 you wrote "In other words, don’t complain about crime if that’s the only job you allow former felons to have." I had never really thought about how pre employment background checks might increase recidivism but it makes sense that makingit harder for a former felon to get a job would cause them to have to resort to illegal means of supporting themselves. What kind of tools or programs could be provided to help combat this issue?
    5)Urban gardening has been a trend over the last few years but most of the media covering it is marketed to member of the upper middle class. Wilder Quarterly is an example of such media. How can urban gardening be encouraged among the underprivileged communities of America's cities?

  4. From Rev. Barber: "If you've ever wondered why you were born, you were born for this season. If you've ever struggled with why am I here?' you are here for this season. If you've ever wrestled with 'why has God given me the opportunity and the intellect and the ability to go to places that I go?' it is for this moment, to stand up and raise a moral dissent against the forces of injustice." This quote speaks to me personally as a Christian who feels the need to stand up against the injustices in the world today, especially the injustices against people who are not like me in economic class, skin color, gender, sexuality, nationality, or religion. I understand that I am a very privileged person (the only thing not going for me is the fact that I am a woman), but I want to learn how to use that privilege to promote the good of others.

    I also appreciate the brutal honesty in Mark Charles’ piece about the Doctrine of Discovery, although the country’s dark history can be difficult to confront when one lives comfortably in the modern day. Though I have not heard the Doctrine’s name before, I am certainly familiar with “Manifest Destiny,” which no doubt came about because of the Doctrine. I am so, so tired of hearing about the horrible things in our nation’s history that get erased, all for the sake of maintaining the idea that the U.S. is so special. I agree with Charles - we must challenge the system, though it will be a slow, difficult process, and it must begin with ordinary citizens. We must confront our difficult history and acknowledge it in order to avoid repeating it.

  5. In Mark Charles's piece featuring the many biases and systematic issues in the strongholds of the United States legal and social structures, he introduces the idea of the empty chairs onstage at a gathering of truth and conciliation. These empty chairs behind the person sharing their experiences represent the many individuals who could be using their privilege to propel and address these issues and are expected to do so as soon as possible. While he emphasizes world leaders as potential chair holders, it can be agreed upon that all people with an adequate amount of privilege or motivation are expected to listen, advocate, and be present for those seeking fair treatment. They are expected to occupy their empty chair.

    While we common individuals may not have as much influence as Barack Obama or the Pope, we each have our own package of privilege that we carry around with us throughout our daily activities. What are some ways in which we can claim our empty chair for an issue, to use this privilege to advocate for and make a presence behind others? How could this be done for the issues brought up in the other readings for this week like tolerance, morally-guided justice, voting rights, and food justice?

  6. “A Message of Tolerance and Welcome” (2016)

    What struck me about this story is how when the pastor had a bike accident outside the local mosque and saw the sign in front of it, it made him feel cared for. This for me is a direct response to the objection that this is “just a sign, not an action.” By making someone feel welcome and accepted, the sign becomes an action, a welcoming towards others communicated in multiple languages.

    “Moral Lens of Justice” (2014)

    Rev. Barber calls on us to look at public policy “through the moral lens of justice for all and through the constitutional principle of the Common Good.” Spoken in 2014, these words sound prophetic, now that we are faced with a President, a Secretary of Education, and a Cabinet who don’t care about justice for all or any kind of justice for that matter. What I find especially moving is Rev. Barber’s insistence that we must raise a dissent because “Others have stood. But it’s our time now.” If we take the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr seriously, if we are serious about our endorsement of our national heroes, then the point that “It is our time now” should sound as a command. It is indeed our time to defend the freedoms and just laws that others before us have stood for. Because if not us, who will do it?

    “Wirelesshogan” (2014)

    The evidence Mark Charles marshals in support of his claim that we live in a country whose major documents and institutions are systematically racist is overwhelming. It is not news either. I am left wondering, again, how and why we can continue to think of ourselves as exceptional, how and why it is possible that we continue to inhabit a systematically racist nation without visibly and vocally resisting (speaking of Americans as a whole; I do realize that many individuals spend their lives in resistance). I am hopeful that some of the movements created in the wake of our President’s abusive policies (such as the Women’s March), as well as other recent movements (like Black Lives Matter) will lead us towards resisting and challenging collectively.

    “The curious case of HB 70”

    I was struck by a point Christian makes in the opening of his piece: after the American Civil War, the national consciousness shows “a substantial fear that people could be re-enslaved.” Though this point alone may seem as a shock to white readers like me, the rest of his article delivers an even more shocking fact: that people of color are systematically disenfranchised, if not physically re-enslaved. That Kentucky is one of only 2 states that upholds this practice is shameful. And we must fight it indeed.

    In his TED talk, Ron insists that free is not sustainable. Yet I know that Tanya and Christian, to use the two of them as an example, do a lot for the community for free (notably, the pancake breakfast they host every Saturday morning). My question for them is whether they agree with Finley on this point.

  7. Ron Finley's TED talk:

    I love the statistic Ron shares about the number of tomato plants that could be planted in Central Park. As simple as that number seems—nearly 85 million—it illustrates the potential impact of gardening in the heart of the city. I wonder what other facts we could illustrate with images so that the action entailed within the facts comes through equally loud and clear?


    I am not sure how to phrase my horror as a question. What I find horrific is the basic premise at the core of the Indian Boarding Schools: “Kill the Indian in him and save the man.” As recently as 1973 these schools were educating hundreds of thousands of Indian kids. We still live with a generation of Native Americans who have been systematically traumatized, made to feel ashamed of who they are. And yet most of us go on with life as if it’s business as usual.

    The curious case of HB 70:

    It seems absolutely irrational to believe ex-offenders should not be considered American citizens. Even if we pay no attention to statistics that reveal reintegrating individuals into their communities and empowering them helps all of us—not just their own mental and physical health—we should believe that we all have the right to be citizens after serving punishment for crimes we may have committed.

    Moral Lens of Justice:

    I was struck by Rev. Barber’s description of a seemingly personal act—his parents’ move to the South and his mother’s decision to teach in the public school system—as part of what he calls a “legacy of dissent against the evil of segregation and discrimination.” His words are powerful because they speak to the point that the personal is always political, that even if we consider a single family’s efforts doomed, if we see them as part of a legacy, we can see them as a lot more impactful than the decisions of “just” a single family. We should consider the legacy he speaks about as a legacy we all share.

  8. I absolutely loved the TED talk and the preacher videos. The ted talk specifically said that his healthy food were not free handouts and that if kids grow tomatoes then they eat tomatoes. I'd like to see that around lexington more. I don't know much about the community gardens but I hope that is what is happening.
    For the other video it must have really impacted this man for his family to move them all back down to where schools were still segregated but it didn't fail to turn him into a good man.
    The fact that former felons have little to no rights in our country is awful and the article discussed how it is harder for them to get jobs how can we help change this?

  9. 1. I love the message of the signs. "No matter where you are from, we're glad you're our neighbor." Three languages: Spanish, English and Arabic,” (Domonoske). It is simplistic and yet poignant in that it really is a meaningful symbol of the welcome we should be showing these people but the government right now is not acting out. I also appreciate the sentiments behind it in that it isn’t necessarily the solution to the problem but it is definitely a step in the right direction.

    2. Rev. Barber’s words, “It is our time” resonated strongly with me. By comparing the ways today’s injustices are impacting society to the injustice now commonly understood to be injustice during the civil rights era Barber was able to demonstrate the need for people to rise up. It was a very moving commentary and I honestly think many people need to hear it that are most likely not going to even deign to consider doing so. So my question is how do we ensure messages like this are spread to those who need to listen to them?

    3. “The institutions of this nation may be systemically racist, but I do not believe a majority of the citizens are. However, in a nation that is systemically racist, anti-racism is less about personal racist attitudes and more about a willingness to change the system,” (Charles). I again questioned why we are not taught about the truth of our history in school earlier on and more widespread. If we as a nation are to amend the wrongs committed by our ancestors then we must acknowledge what was done. If we continue to ignore the atrocities in our history then we are never going to truly move forward.

    4. This article opened my eyes more to the problem exemplified in the statement, “Even though it can be shown that re-enfranchisement statistically reduces recidivism and therefore the crime rate, and even though the linkage between felony disenfranchisement and late nineteenth-century racist politics are clear, we still haven’t done away with this injustice in Kentucky,” (Torp). I was unaware of the extent to which this problem existed and I honestly am ashamed that this issue is as dire in Kentucky as it is.

    5. I love the way in which Ron Finley goes about creating change in his community for the better. The idea of using growing your own food to help solve the problems of the food desert he lives in is a remarkable system. I also appreciated how he was very active in his work in that he doesn’t want to just talk about doing stuff, he does stuff. So how can we do similar things in our community?

  10. 1) I, like Pastor Bucher, believe in the power of symbols as signs that show us how we live (or how we desire to live). A number of progressive activists, however, are angered by symbols, especially when used by “social media activists” or people otherwise uninclined to fight for change---to a number of progressive activists, the mass sharing of symbols is merely a lazy manner of engaging issues. However, as a gay man who went through a rough coming-out process, I can speak to the power of symbols as a means of communicating love and support. After enduring some kind of verbal abuse or threats of disownment from family members, if I were to see a passing car with a rainbow sticker, or if a friend were to change their Facebook profile picture to equality symbol, I would immediately find some kind of hope and goodness to which I could cling. Symbols of unity are powerful, and even if they do not themselves affect change, they affect people to affect change.

    2) Rev. Barber’s sermon on moral dissent is striking in a number of ways. My main response to this video was recounting my own experiences with this concept, and how lonely those experiences can be. I personally do not have religion to back me up in the ways in which I choose to stand for progress: I only have the Constitution and my conception of a fair and just legal system and a nation in which everyone should, legally, be guaranteed the experience of a healthy life with equal opportunity. As last year’s election proved to a number of us how exhausting and easily-obstructed the path to justice and goodness can be, to be in the position of having to dissent (rather than finding your desire for a society based on fairness and love echoed by your neighbor and representative in government) can often seem hopeless. Dr. King says, “The moral arc of the universe bends toward justice,” but how does one (particularly one without religion) find the strength to keep navigating that arc when in the position of the minority? [This is mainly a question about individual experiences with this feeling, as we all have ways of coping with the tough battle of social justice.]

    3) In my primary and secondary education, I was (thankfully) taught of the wiping out of Native American populations by European colonizers and the subsequent assimilation processes that Native Americans endured following the founding of the United States, which forced them to adopt the traditions and skills of “white society” in order to succeed. However, we students were mostly left to interpret the morality of such events for ourselves, and I’m certain that my 98% white, middle-class peers didn’t give a second-thought to the histories of oppression that Native American populations have endured and, more important, why these histories have played out. In the past few years of my undergraduate studies, I have become increasingly aware of the concept of systemic racism and am slowly recognizing the ugly history of this country and how systems of oppression are innately ingrained into our culture. Recently, I had the horrifying thought that slaveholders (Washington, Jefferson, Jackson) remain on our currency unquestioned. Harriet Tubman, if she (hopefully) replaces the face of Jackson on the $20 bill, will still be among white men to which she could have been enslaved. This article is immensely successful in highlighting that the very wording of our founding documents and principles is racist and was designed to intentionally oppress. My (very broad) question, then, would be: how do we in modern times legally resolve such matters of race and equality when oppression is so intricately interwoven into the documents and court decisions that guide and legitimize our legal processes?

  11. 4) Torp’s article is a study that, hopefully---it seems---is gaining more attention and traction with progressive groups and becoming a “common-sense” reform with regard to the justice system and voting rights, yet “common-sense” reforms, particularly in more conservative circles, tend to be immensely difficult to pass. In this case, I would argue that systemic racism (even if not conscious on the part of lawmakers---although I believe it is often intentional) is the major impediment to these reforms. With Ava DuVernay’s documentary 13th streaming on Netflix and now-nominated for an Academy Award, it is my hope that histories of oppression and how that has led to the mass-incarceration of people of color that we see today will come to light to all generations, particularly young white people like myself who are not made aware of these issues or even in a position to need to think on them, in such a way that will inspire us to press for these reforms. Further, activist circles in Kentucky specifically need to be more forceful and loud in their call to have an automatic process of reinstating voting rights to felons who have served their sentences, but as we have seen, a Republican (and moderate Democrat)-controlled Congress and governor’s mansion are not privy to this reform.

    5) Guerrilla gardening is such an absurd concept with regard to the fact that growing one’s own food as a response to a lack of access to healthy, natural food is an act of dissent in any number of geographic areas, almost always food deserts inhabited by disenfranchised populations. I recognize that food deserts exist here in Lexington, especially in neighborhoods predominantly populated by people of color. To that end, are there any examples of guerrilla gardening in Lexington? Does Transylvania’s own Community Garden play a role in serving the community in which it is located?

  12. The video of Ron Finely: A guerilla gardener in south central la was what made me the most interested out of all the readings and videos. It is cool how he doesn't just talk about the problem, but actually does something about the problem. He goes out and gardens these empty lots and produces food for people in food deserts. This is something that I would definitely be interested in participating in and doing at my own home. I didn't realize how much cheaper and healthier it was to plant your own food. How would you help out with something like this or find out about something like this going on in your neighborhood?

  13. 1.I really loved reading about the origins of the sign. I saw several at the Women’s March downtown a couple weeks ago and was really moved by them. I wonder how we can take that message and insert it into places that aren’t signs? What are more ways to express the same message?
    2.Similar to everyone else, I especially liked how this used religion to call for social justice, which is a platform that is not often allotted space. How can we make more room for that side in the argument?
    3.I have to agree completely with Kremena’s post on this reading. The systematically racist documents this country is founded on are not news. I did appreciate at the end of the post where “Next Steps” were listed because reading about the intensely embedded history of racism within those documents leaves me confused about what to do next, and those feel thoughtful and the fact that it is followed by How to Get Involved feels doable.
    4.In Christian Torp’s piece where he discuss both governors previous to Bevin and their approach to voting rights. It made me really really curious how things have changed with him. I assume things would be even harder now.
    5.To echo Kremema’s question again- how can we make free sustainable? This piece also makes me think about the pit, about how it used to be a green space. Could it have been a potential site for guerrilla farming? How many tomato plants could have fit there?