The messages from corporations tell us hundreds of times a day, in ways we may not notice anymore: how to relate to each other and to ourselves, what to buy, how to feel, how to perceive and the kind of person to aspire to be.
Theatre for the Living’s production of Corporations in Our Heads, which is currently touring B.C. and stops in Lumby Nov. 20, is about becoming aware of these messages.
“It’s (on) how to change our relationships to them, to live healthier and more sustainable lives with each other, with ourselves, and with the planet,” said David Diamond, who co-founded Headlines Theatre (now Theatre for Living) in 1981 and has directed more than 500 community-specific projects on issues such as racism, civic engagement, violence, addiction, street youth, intergenerational conflict and homelessness.
Corporations in Our Heads is more than just an investigation, said Diamond.
“We have a desire for Corporations in our Heads to move into transformative action… by making each event relevant, at a grassroots level, to each unique community in which it happens and for the local organizers to use that momentum to move forward on local community issues,” he said.
Evolved from Augusto Boal’s (founder of the Theatre of the Oppressed) technique, Cops in the Head, each event is based on the community’s creation.
“We are touring a process in which the whole evening of theatre emerges from the audience,” said Diamond.
It starts with a short warm-up, where the audience is asked to offer stories out of their own experiences.
“(They can be) stories in which the storyteller had to make a decision, and in that moment, knew that the messages of corporations were affecting their choice in negative or unhealthy way,” said Diamond, who takes on the role of joker/facilitator. “The audience chooses the story that resonates the most and we bring that story to the stage.”
After agreeing on branding, the joker and audience decide what corporations are present in the space that night.
“Identifying the brand helps us to understand the character as well as the messaging. The chosen moment is then theatricalized on stage,” said Diamond, who freezes the scene in a moment when the “corporate voices” appear to be present in the storyteller (the Protagonist).
The Protagonist is then asked to identify what the loudest voice is saying, and to make a physical shape to represent that message.
“An audience member, who recognizes that message from inside his or her own experience, volunteers to become that shape on stage and develop the shape into a character. That character becomes the voice of a corporation,” said Diamond.
Presented by the Monashee Arts Council, Corporations in our Heads stages at White Valley Community Centre, 2250 Shields Ave., Lumby, Wednesday, Nov. 20 at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $6 for youth and seniors and $8 for adults and can be purchased by phone at 778-473-3029 or at 1961 Vernon St., Lumby.