Theatre for Living experiments at the Shatford

A unique evening where theatre emerges from the audience is being hosted at the Shatford Centre in Penticton.

David Diamond brings experimental theatre known as forum theatre to the Shatford Centre on Nov. 19.

A unique evening where theatre emerges from the audience is being hosted at the Shatford Centre.

Corporations in our Heads is focused on identifying the corporate messages that are present in the public’s psyche and seeking ways to change relationships to those messages that are healthier for individuals, communities and as a result the planet.

The event is hosted by David Diamond from Theatre for Living.

“The whole thing begins from the perspective corporations communicate with us in ways we don’t see or hear anymore, because it happens so many times in a day. Why do we buy certain things? How do we respond to advertised pictures and people? Why do we pick a certain politician or party? Why do we recycle?,” said Diamond who is also the artistic director.

“These behaviours are what lead us to other actions; like over-consumption, how we are on the planet, and who we aspire to be. What does safety and success mean to us?”

The experimental theatre is also known as forum theatre to directly involve an audience in the exact moment. The intent of Corporations in Our Heads is to be more than just investigation.

By making each event relevant, at a grassroots level, to each unique community, local organizers can use the momentum to move forward on local community issues. Each production is the community’s creation, as the whole evening of theatre emerges from the audience.

Diamond said it is an experiment where the audience ideas can debunk spun messages from corporations.

“People are really hungry to do this; it ends up being impov-based,” said Diamond. “Really profound, but special, things happen each night.”

After a short warm-up the audience is asked to offer stories out of their own experiences, stories in which the storyteller had to make a decision and in that moment they knew that the messages of corporations were affecting their choice in negative or unhealthy ways.

The audience then chooses the story that resonates the most and the players will bring that story to the stage.

Diamond is a founding member of Vancouver’s Theatre for Living and has directed over 500 community specific projects on issues such as racism, civic engagement, violence, addiction, street youth, intergenerational conflict and homelessness. He has worked throughout Canada, U.S., Europe, as well as New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, Rwanda, Palestine, Singapore and Namibia.

Under Diamond’s artistic direction Theatre for Living has been honoured with numerous Jessie Richardson award nominations as well as two awards for outstanding production and two for significant artistic achievement, the Red Cross Power of Humanity Award and other recognitions.

During the chosen experience for the play Diamond plays the facilitator role freezing the scene in a moment when the corporate voices appear to be present and the storyteller 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 the message inside themselves or their experience then becomes that shape on stage. Audience members also can yell stop during the play if they have an idea of how to disarm or evict a voice from occupying the space.

With no actors or script and allowing the evening of theatre coming from the audience each night, means the experience has been different in each city they have stopped.

“It is a very interactive and dynamic way of being together so the Shatford Centre is a perfect spot for that to bring our community together and hear what is everyone’s mind,” said Jane Shaak, executive director of the Shatford Centre.

Shaak said with the recent release of the Vital Signs report from the Community Foundation that may be a topic brought up at the event in Penticton.

“There is a lot of feeling of wanting to balance our community and be a community for all. How do we help each other? It is a chance for that kind of conversation,” she said.

Corporations in our Heads takes place at the Shatford Centre on Nov. 19 at 7 p.m. Admission is by donation, suggested at $10.

-With files from Black Press