Local Acts: Community-based Performance in the United States

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Rutgers University Press, 2005 - Performing Arts - 212 pages

An eclectic mix of art, theatre, dance, politics, experimentation, and ritual, community-based performance has become an increasingly popular art movement in the United States. Forged by the collaborative efforts of professional artists and local residents, this unique field brings performance together with a range of political, cultural, and social projects, such as community-organizing, cultural self-representation, and education.

Local Acts presents a long-overdue survey of community-based performance from its early roots, through its flourishing during the politically-turbulent 1960s, to present-day popular culture. Drawing on nine case studies, including groups such as the African American Junebug Productions, the Appalachian Roadside Theater, and the Puerto Rican Teatro Pregones, Jan Cohen-Cruz provides detailed descriptions of performances and processes, first-person stories, and analysis. She shows how the ritual side of these endeavors reinforces a sense of community identification while the aesthetic side enables local residents to transgress cultural norms, to question group habits, and to incorporate a level of craft that makes the work accessible to individuals beyond any one community. The book concludes by exploring how community-based performance transcends even national boundaries, connecting the local United States with international theater and cultural movements.

 

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Contents

Legacies
10
Early Antecedents
17
List of Illustrations 1 Robert Gard and farm family
29
Motion of the Ocean
35
Whisper the Waves the Wind
47
Red Fox Second Hangin
54
Establishing the Field
60
J Dont Know but I Been Told If You Keep on Danciri You Never Grow Old
68
Peggy Penin
150
Performance Structures
153
Wildcard
156
El Apagon
161
Promise of a Love Song
163
Steelbound
166
USA
169
Swan Lake
174

Corn MountainPine Mountain
74
Code 33
76
Between Ritual and Art
81
Criticism
105
Storytelling
129
Common greencommon ground
131
Shehechianu
177
An American Muslim Remix
187
Notes
191
Index
205
Copyright

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About the author (2005)

Jan Cohen-Cruz is an associate professor of drama at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, where she participated in the founding of the Center for Art and Public Policy. She has edited two books, Playing Boal: Theatre, Therapy, and Activism (with Mady Schutzman) and Radical Street Performance: An International Anthology.

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