Activity 5: Learning from the Other Within - Theater of Voices
Activity time: 30 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Leader Resource 2, Affirming Experiences and Marginalizing Experiences
- Music (two different selections) and music player
Preparation for Activity
- Work with your co-facilitator to select and arrange material, following the instructions in Leader Resource 2.
- Customize Leader Resource 2 to include only the voices you have chosen to use. Make copies for facilitators and readers.
- Arrange to use a meeting room large enough to stage a reading with multiple participants.
- Arrange for participant volunteers to read parts in the Theater of Voices, and give them the text well in advance.
- Select music to open and close the reading. Possibilities include:
- John Lennon's "Imagine," as sung by Eva Cassidy on the CD Imagine, Blix Street Records, 2002
- David Wilcox, "The Inside of My Head" or "Step Inside Your Skin," from What You Whispered, Vanguard Records, 2000
- "Somewhere," from the Broadway musical, West Side Story. (Recommended version: Aretha Franklin on the CD Songs of West Side Story, RCA/Victor, 1996).
- Select two additional readings from the "affirming experiences" section of Leader Resource 2 that you can share to introduce the Theater of Voices. One should be the voice of a Unitarian Universalist who identifies as White and the other the voice of a Unitarian Universalist Person of Color or other person marginalized by race or ethnicity.
Description of Activity
Remind participants that the experience of being either an insider or outsider in a group is a universal human experience. Share the two affirming readings you have selected to begin this activity, with a different facilitator reading each one.
Those were two voices of Unitarian Universalists describing their experiences in their own words. You are now invited to take part in and witness a Theater of Voices that will present real life experiences of contemporary Unitarian Universalists-some affirming and some marginalizing. If you are part of the audience, make yourself comfortable as you prepare to listen to stories from Unitarian Universalist persons who identify as People of Color and others marginalized by race or ethnicity and Unitarian Universalists who identify as White or of European ancestry. If you are one of the reader/actors, come on up!
Arrange the reader/actors according to your plan and make sure they know the order in which they will read. Tell them that you, as director, will assure each voice is respected by pausing the reading for seven to ten seconds between voices and starting the next actor/reader with a nonverbal cue. Invite reader/actors to read the name and ethnic or racial identity of the person before reading each narrative.
Open the theater with the music you have selected. Enact your Theater of Voices! After the last statement/voice, close your theater with the music you have selected.
If you choose not to do the Theater of Voices, co-facilitators can alternate reading the short narratives. Again, arrange them to enhance their impact and pause seven to ten seconds after each reading.
Including All Participants
Have large-print copies of the narratives on hand to offer anyone who is visually impaired.