Director, Playwright, & Project Concept
Presented as part of the mainstage performance season for the Theatre program at Old Dominion University.
A devised/new play development. 4-week rehearsal process.
Director: Brittney S. Harris
Set Designer: Jim Lyden
Costume Designer: Meredith Magoun
Lighting Designer: Elwood 'Woody' Robinson
Sound Designer: Ryan Chapleski
Tag You’re It is an interactive, ensemble-based piece of performance art utilizing the Boalian technique of Image Theatre. An ensemble cast will create and devise original literature, poetry, rap, choreography, and more to explore issues of individualism, unmasking/unveiling of freedom, creative self-expression through performance, exploration, resistance, and protest.
The collective ensemble will culminate in creating a living “mural” that will live on in the minds of audience members long afterwards.
Methodological Approach(es): Exploring the thematic elements of a) Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed: Image Theater work and b) specific thematic/physical elements of Anne Bogart's Viewpoints exploration of space and time.
"What is the social highlight of the week?"
"Who's the latest #tag?"
As a director, I believe with theatre exists as a platform for artists to explore their own roots, questions about morality and society, spirituality, and expression. TAG! You’re It centers on the collective journey of 8 individuals on their quest for creative expression, acceptance, and elevation. Exploring the themes of play, individualism, unmasking freedom, uninhibited creative self-expression through performance, and protest, this show amplifies and embraces the varying perspectives and points of view of our complex social lives and livelihoods. The title of the piece TAG! contextually represents the childhood game of ‘Tag’, the street art custom of “tagging” or mark your spot, and the social media convention of “#hashtag” culture.
Developed and devised during a mere 4-week collaborative rehearsal period, the show was built from scratch— from just a directorial narrative-based outline. While the rehearsal process was dedicated to the development of the prose, poetry, scenes, and choreography of the dialogue, the second major component of the production is Augusto Boal’s Image Theatre exercise from the Theatre of the Oppressed methodology. With this unique method, still images are used to explore abstract concepts, such as relationships and emotions, as well as realistic situations. These images are then placed together and ‘dynamized’ or brought to life in a collective living “mural”. Image Theatre work is often used to explore internal or external oppression, unconscious thoughts, and feelings.
Each of these characters embodies balancing the duplicitous nature of human gratification and joy: shifting between childhood play and the rigor of our day-to-day power-gridded life as an “adult.” This show is a mirror: a clear reflection of current times, inimitable to the individuals performing and spectators involved.
Sharing in this space, at this exact moment in time, grants personal elevation and enlightenment providing a room for all of us collectively to be highlighted and celebrated, but at what costs?
“Who’s turn is it to be happy?”
"Who gets to be “it”?"
Theatre of the Oppressed: Image Theater
Theatre of the Oppressed, which can be seen as a theatrical/performative form of activism, uses theatre as the means of promoting social and political change:
“Theatre is a language through which human beings can engage in active dialogue on what is important to them and allows individuals to create a safe space that they may inhabit in groups and use to explore the interactions which make up their lives. It is a lab for problem-solving, for seeking options, and for practicing solutions.” (1)
This project will not only serve as an active dialogue for the performers but for the audience as well. This interactive piece will call for scene-to-scene participation leaving each night of performance purely unique and undefined. While the rehearsal process is dedicated to the development of the prose, poetry, scenes, and/or choreography focused on various issues, the second major component of the production is the implementation of the Boalian exercise of the Image Theatre.
This unique method uses still images are used to explore abstract concepts, such as relationships and emotions, as well as realistic situations. These images are then placed together and ‘dynamized’ or brought to life. The method is often used to explore internal or external oppression, unconscious thoughts, and feelings.
(1) Augusto Boal and Adrian Jackson, The Aesthetics of the Oppressed (London: Routledge, 2006).
The Vessel, Winter Edition, Pg. 12-13
"Eye-opening and exciting energy!"
"I absolutely loved it!! I hope to see more shows like that. It was so cool to watch and being an active audience member was very different. Not like a typical theatre performance at all, which I actually enjoyed."
"As a faculty member, I felt that this piece of theatre really SERVED our students here at ODU both onstage and off. What an exciting opportunity to use the theatre as a laboratory and invite the audience in. Gorgeous, impactful and necessary work."
"...Everything was amazing! I loved the immersive experience. As well as the topics discussed and the poetic artistry of the language"
"I'm absolutely envious of the acting, stage direction, costumes, and sets! An amazing performance overall! :D"
"I think this play was relatable to everyone in one way or another. Whether it opens their eyes to diversity or maybe realize others feel the same way they do. We are not alone. I loved to audience engagement from writing my childhood dream down when walking in, to drawing on the actors, and doing graffiti. It was a great experience."
Featured a) performance photos by J. Stubbs Photography b) in-person rehearsals, script development sessions of TAG! (more coming soon)