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AN AWKWARD AND MAYBE EMBARRASSING CONVERSATION ABOUT DIFFERENCE: STUDIES IN RADICAL TRANSPARENCY

LED BY: SARAH GARTON STANLEY & MARCUS YOUSSEF
LOCATION: THE THEATRE CENTRE
DATES: JULY 28 & 29 |11am-5pm

Returning for a second year and a next stage in process development, National Arts Centre Associate Artistic Director Sarah Garton Stanley and Neworld Theatre Artistic Director Marcus will work with the group on their creation/performance and dialogue model called “awkward and embarrassing conversation.” Using this approach, they will lead an investigation of radical openness or transparency: a determination to speak publicly, spontaneously, with both rigor and vulnerability, about our own failures in relationship to issues of power and privilege and identity. Sarah’s a self-described “uncertain lesbian”. Marcus is a self-described “faux-Arab”. They come to their multiple identities with as many questions and perceived contradictions as they do certainties.

Join them again or come for first time. Associate Artistic Director of Neworld Theatre and director of Marcus and Sarah’s show, Chelsea Haberlin will be participating as well.

Sarah and Marcus do this as both a methodology for unlocking authenticity in performance and as a trust-building axis for participants engaging in public dialogues. 

Public conversations and art-making about questions of power are often rigid, defensive, predictable and bound by ideological righteousness. Social Media is a perfect example of this kind of public conversation. At the same time, other public and performative encounters can be equally bound by a weird, false positivity that is averse to conflict. "An awkward and embarrassing conversation about difference" models a space in which these two binaries are challenged, and in which conflict is permitted simply to exist, where the value of being right is actively questioned, and where failure’s fundamental importance to human existence is acknowledged. In this way, it seeks to encourage open, supported, and risk-taking art-practice and dialogue.

Quoting Sarah and Marcus: “This performative idea is built on our dream of being honest and our shared belief in the productive potential of uncertainty. Doing it, we have found ourselves to be truly caught, unsure and awkward and embarrassed – as all humans are when faced with complex questions no single person can resolve, our own complicity and the hypocrisy with which any one of us necessarily encounters fundamental questions of power and privilege.”