— Wandering Aesthetics is looking for written submissions for its upcoming “Rest Stop Political Theatre Project,” which will take voting appreciation on the road in an attempt to engage voters and strengthen local civic engagement at the neighborhood level.
“Rest Stop Political Theatre” is a mobile performance– devised to take place in the bed of a pickup truck– that will travel to five Akron neighborhoods. Performances will take place outdoors in civic common spaces in the weeks leading up to the Oct. 11 voter registration deadline. The goal: help get people registered while galvanizing an informed electoral to participate in this quintessential civic duty.
“Rest Stop” builds on theatrical foundations established by Brecht, Boal, the Living Newspaper, Bread & Puppet and Teatro Campesino to use theatre to galvanize political discourse among everyday citizens.
Using a variety of tools (ex: puppetry, physical comedy, folk music) these live performances intend to be fun, educational, interactive and encourage civic participation. Performing on the back of a beat-up truck allows the group to challenge the notion that theatre (and voting) is a luxury only relevant to some.
Through the Joy of Voting, Citizen University– a national nonprofit based in Seattle– aims to help address a growing trend of lower voter turnout in local elections. The project will create localized, action-oriented projects in four cities across the country to foster a stronger culture of voting.
In Akron, Citizen University is partnering with the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron to help promote the project. In addition to Akron, Joy of Voting projects are launching in Miami, Fla.; Wichita, Kan.; and Philadelphia, Pa. The Joy of Voting project derives its vision from an article in “The Atlantic” written by Citizen University founder and CEO Eric Liu, in which he asks whether it’s possible to revive 18th and 19th century practices of raucous, participatory activity and pageantry around elections.
The “Rest Stop Political Theatre Project” is a Joy of Voting Initiative funded by Citizen University with support from John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
Winning organizations in Akron include: The Big Love Network, artist Megan Young, Wandering Aesthetics, Engaging to Excel with Excellence and the Akron Beacon Journal in collaboration with the Jefferson Center.
Wandering Aesthetics is seeking writers of all ages, backgrounds, experience levels and demographics. The goal is to showcase a wide variety of voices and perspectives about voting, democracy and America’s political history/present/future.
The organization is an open, accepting and affirming company performing to diverse communities and is interested in exploring questions such as: “in the face of political, economic, racial and social oppression/injustice, what is the necessity of civic participation? When it increasingly seems like your vote doesn’t count, why bother? Why do people care more about Pokemon than exercising their hard-won rights? Is it possible to overcome today’s fractious two-party politics? What does ‘freedom’ mean?” The project seeks to explore such questions in a fun, engaging and participatory way.
Submissions may take almost any form as long as it can be spoken and/or performed. This is including but not limited to: poetry, speeches, comedic sketches, serious/dramatic scenes, puppetry, masked scenes, improv scenarios and/or songs (Due to time constraints melody must be able to be played on guitar and based on folk songs in the public domain.) Performance times may range from 2 to 10 minutes.
LIMITATIONS: All pieces must be simple enough to be performed outside on or around a pickup truck. (i.e., no elaborate costume changes in the middle of the piece or special stage effects/lighting.) The ensemble/cast will involves four performers and a musician. Submissions may be work that already exists or material written specifically for this performance. However, applicants must be able to give Wandering Aesthetics full permission to use work– material under copyright protection may only be submitted by copyright holder.
PAYMENT: Wandering Aesthetics will pay $25 to $50 for permission to use material from Aug. 15 through Nov. 15. Final fee will be dependent on the number of pieces selected. Payment will be made no later than Nov. 18. Author/copyright holder remains sole owner of material and will be credited on www.watheatre.com and in any other press material distributed.
HOW TO SUBMIT: Please send entries via email to [email protected] with Submission: “Rest Stop Political Theatre Project” in subject. Questions may also be directed to this email. No phone calls please.
Deadline is Sunday, Aug. 14 at 11:59 p.m.
Selections and notification will be made by Aug. 23.
All entries must be nonpartisan. The project is not supporting a particular party or candidate– simply encouraging people to take part in the political process.
Wandering Aesthetics also is seeking letters, quotes, postcards, drawings and/or photographs that, in some way, serve as a response to the theme. Please send entries via email to [email protected] with Submission: “Joy of Voting” in subject or, as a hard copy, to:
C/O Summit Artspace
140 E. Market St.
Akron, OH 44308
Questions may also be directed to this email. No phone calls please.
Wandering Aesthetics is collecting these items to better understand the myriad perspectives around this complex and important topic. Pieces may be incorporated as part of a scene devised by the cast, read between segments or otherwise included. If you like to submit, but definitely would not like your piece included, please indicate.
These items will not be returned. Please send by Thursday, Aug. 25.
Dreamt into being on the mountains of Appalachia, where founders Benjamin Rexroad and Kyle Jozsa completed a thru-hike of the 2,185.9-mile Appalachian Trail, Wandering Aesthetics rose (like an overused cliché) from the ashes of Heads Up Productions. The organization is an Akron, Ohio-based storytelling theatre company bent on exploring our American roots and identity through the lens of narrative. The group builds community through person-to-person contact, connecting disparate peoples through events and performance, investigating the human link in our diverse cultural heritage. For more, visit www.watheatre.com.
Citizen University is a national nonprofit based in Seattle that promotes and teaches the art of powerful citizenship. In addition to the Joy of Voting, programs and initiatives include the Civic Collaboratory, a, a civic leadership network; Sworn-Again America, a project on civic rituals; the Citizen University National Conference; and programs and resources to teach civic power. For more, visit www.citizenuniversity.us.
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.