Melanie Crean and Claire Picher: Building Better Speech. Performance Workshops

Workshop Sat 12 Nov 2011 3.00PM-5.00PM Performa Institute Classroom, Performa Hub
233 Mott Street
Free admission
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Designed by artists Melanie Crean and Claire Picher, the Building Better Speech workshops investigate how issues of identity and power can be communicated as a form of text, either through the body's gestures, or through network-based collective action. Building Better Speech workshops make use of performance, games, and open education models to collaboratively facilitate dialogue around issues defined by groups affected by political transformation and upheaval.


In the pilot iteration of Building Better Speech, a workshop has been designed with a group of female high school students from Turning Point for Women and Families, a Queens-based organization that supports Muslim American families dealing with issues of domestic violence. Over the course of the workshop, the young women first identify and then explore issues of faith and stereotypes through automatic writing assignments, serigraphy, theatrical games, reflection, and discussion. These various methods are a means of improving communication within groups and building ties to allies, as well as promoting mutual understanding. Physical and visual approaches to communication augment the spoken word to help overcome the greatest obstacle to communicating: the challenge of being heard.

On the occasion of Performa 11, and hosted by the Performa Institute, Crean, Picher, and the young women of Turning Point for Women and Families will conduct an open workshop, inviting the public to explore issues of stereotyping and identity in a shared session of collective performance games.

The project is developed in collaboration with the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School, and presented as part of the Performa Institute, a research and educational initiative of Performa 11.