One of the oddest jobs i have had was delivering balloons on Valentines Day in a gorilla costume. My partner at the time, Amanda, and i had a friend who had a balloon delivery service (as an alternative to flowers) and Valentines Day was their big holiday. I remember driving a van that was being buffeted by the high winds across the Bay Bridge, in gorilla costume, blowing up balloons for a delivery i was late for. In many parallel universes, my life ended that day.
Amanda used to call the San Francisco Hyatt Regency the “Riot Urgency”. At one point for a friends birthday party we took balloons up to the rotating bar on the top floor. Shortly after the balloons were delivered they were released and started circling around the moving bar (which had a stationary ceiling in many places) and the balloons were everywhere.
For the last few days Abigail and i have been holed up in the Death City Hyatt Regency at a academic theater conference. We have been participating in the pre-conference program in interactive theater and theater for social change. We try to mix our academic conference by breaking me into some and presenting at others. This one we presented at this one.
Interactive Theater involved the audience in the creation of the performance. Improv would count, but the work which is being done by the folks we are working with these few days tends to have a much more significant political orientation. Like Abigails work on sexual assault prevention with peer educators (read students). Or the anti-oppression/diversity work which was much discussed and some acted out in this pre-conference.
Abigail and i submitted the Modesty is Dangerous workshop description, which the organizers liked very much, but was not sufficiently on topic for them to give us space in the pre-conference to present. Instead they asked us to do half an hour rap up and debrief of the pre-conference, which in some ways is much harder, because we dont actually know what the event will cover til it is over and we need to plan before we arrive.
We did a milling exercise where participants confessed what had surprised them about the event. We did some fear and vision fluid sculptures (Abigail is the high priestess of fluid sculptures from Playback Theater). We did a circle game where people stepped into the circle to describe the ally they were looking for and others stepped in if they could be that person. It was all highly interactive and the participants seemed pleased.