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Six Stages of Staging "Resistance"

Stages of Resistance
A computer screen displays the back end of The Lark's website as an article called "Resistance and Change in TOWN HALL" is edited.

This piece is a reflection on the making of Stages of Resistance, a blog salon curated by Caridad Svich. The series welcomed reflections on themes related to making work for live performance in political and aesthetic resistance to forms and systems that oppress human rights and censor or severely limit freedom of expression. We are in increasingly hostile, volatile times around the world, and this salon hopes to serve as a space for considered, thoughtful, polemical articulations of practice and theory on the subject of resistance, the multiple meanings of political art, and the ways in which progressive, wholistic cultural change may be instigated through artworks.

1. Being Wrong

I did not expect this. But still, I would not go so far as to say I was surprised.

Over the past five months, I have been overwhelmed by the response to Stages of Resistance. When Caridad first pitched the idea for the salon to me, I thought we would get ten writers. Fifteen, maybe. I thought, “Okay, Caridad said she’s reaching out to fifty or so folks, let’s say half are interested, and a handful of those actually have the time to follow through.” I thought the response would follow Rule of Thumb, forgetting that’s exactly what resistance is about getting out from under.

In the end, there were 86 writers, and looking back I can only say that I should have known.

2. Getting Lost

My by-the-numbers approach to publishing each of these... (and here I tried to find an adjective that would describe what all the pieces are, but of course quickly realized they are not “all” but in fact “each”) ...pieces, quickly disassembled as I began reading them. Operating from a world of word counts and oxford comma patrol, it should have been easy for me to detach from the material I was poring over every day. I used to be a copy editor. I know the feeling of meticulously reading through a piece, diligently eradicating extra space between sentences, carefully examining each and every individual word, only to get to the end and find I had no idea what the article actually said once you put all those words together. This absolutely did not happen with Stages of Resistance. With Stages of Resistance, I would often get to the end of a piece only to realize I had forgotten to make any corrections at all, at which point I would happily start over from the beginning.

3. Finding Connections

As I meandered this way through the copious supply of .docs in my inbox, one of the things that struck me most was how many writers had the impulse to ask questions; to frame their artistic and personal responses in a series of queries about how to move forward. From Leila Buck (YES - AND: Asking ourselves (and each other) tough questions about creation, privilege, power & responsibility), who asks “How do the stories we choose to tell, and believe, come to shape who we are?” to Rachel Jendrzejewski (45 Considerations for Making a Play), who questions, “Does or should this piece ask a question?” to Brittany K Allen (21 Questions to ask yourself before you sit down to resist), whose questions are only answered with more questions, it becomes clear the community gathered around this salon is as eager to listen as they are vital to be listened to.

4. Continued Reflection

In her post You Ask Too Many Questions, Madeline Sayet explores the way a question, especially when posed to an audience, can be "an invitation to think." Her point comes full circle when considering the fact that Stages of Resistance, which invited so many thoughts to the virtual podium, all started with a question Caridad asked: If I wanted to do this, would it be possible? If we can answer 'yes' to that question, as much as possible, what else could we invite ourselves to do? Or to think about? Or to do and then think about or to think about and then do? What else could we turn out to be wrong about, and surprised and lifted by?

5. Saying Thanks

The gratitude I feel for having had the opportunity to share the work of so many insightful thinkers and makers is deep. I am thankful to Caridad for her incredible vision and commitment to the salon, I am thankful to Mildred Lewis (Transforming Silence(s)) for her thank you note, and of course to the people behind the posts; all of the writers who contributed their time, effort, and hearts to making this series happen.

6. The Next Stage

I am not someone who typically starts a project with a lot of questions. I tend to jump in, and the questions come up as I go along. This process was no exception, and even as it comes to and end, it only raises new questions about what comes next. Stages of Resistance has been an absolute education for me. Here's the thing though, you don't need a blog to share ideas. So let's talk to each other. Let's ask each other questions and give each other answers and question each other's answers, and remind ourselves that we are not alone.