New book: Staging Social Justice: Collaborating to Create Activist Theatre, edited by Norma Bowles ’84 and Daniel-Raymond Nadon (Southern Illinois University Press)
The editors: Bowles is the founding artistic director of Fringe Benefits, a theater company that collaborates with schools and communities to create plays that promote dialogue around diversity and discrimination issues. She teaches acting and theater and social change at Loyola Marymount University. Bowles also is the first recipient of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education’s award for leadership in community-based theater and civic engagement. Nadon is an associate professor of theater and LGBT studies at Kent State University.
The book: The 28 essays in this anthology describe the collaborative methods for developing scripts for activist theater and the impact Fringe Benefits plays have had on participants, audiences, and communities. The contributors — artists, activists, and scholars involved with the theater company — share their experiences addressing social justice issues through theater and offer ideas for creating that kind of work. They also reflect on community building, activism and empowerment, aesthetics and ethics, and “safe space.”
From the book: “We are living in scary times. It is becoming more and more challenging every day for most of the world’s population to have our voices included in the decision-making processes that affect every aspect of our lives. Now, more than ever, it is imperative for marginalized individuals and communities to come together, listen to each other’s concerns, stories, and ideas, and work together to frame our own narratives, not have them silenced, co-opted, distorted, or ‘Hollywood-ized.’ If we can work together, we stand a better change of being heard and heeded.”
Read more: PAW’s profile of Norma Bowles ’84 in the April 24, 2002, issue.