Monday, November 12, 2012

Art for the Greater Good

As the millions of readers of this blog may not know, I (Laurie Jones) have moved to the UK for a year to get my Masters in Human Rights. Who am I? Good question… just one of those Clemson kids that came to Chicago four years ago with close friends and whose sister asked them to start a theatre company.  And then we did, and I’ve had a lot to do with the ups and downs of it all.  So four years later, I am across the Atlantic learning about the UN and Global Justice. And where is the connection? Why human rights? Well there are a lot of reasons, but some of those reasons had to do with some shows I did with Wishbone.
When Wishbone produced SPANDEX, a play examining the issue of the death penalty, last year in the Chicago Fringe Festival, I became pretty empowered. Not only do I think we created a play that allowed people to ask themselves questions about power and the death penalty, but I think we made an entertaining piece of theatre in the process. I got to sit around the table with the cast and discuss thoughts, ideas, and beliefs, and all of it made me think how theatre can create change.

Since beginning my new program, I have been constantly reminded of works of art that matter in the human rights movement. My dear friend, Aaron gave me a play by Athol Fugard called, My Children! My Africa! as I left on my journey. I read it on the plane. It was a play dealing with Apartheid era racism in South Africa in a way so entertaining and intriguing, and most importantly it gave voice to atrocious inequality.

In my first class on Law and Public Policy, my professor showed a clip from a Harold Pinter play about torture called, One for the Road.  The play conveyed in a few moments what people have experienced for centuries, and it really personalized the trauma. The play obviously meant a lot to my professor, who saw the play in London, and was so deeply moved that he used it as a tool for his opening class.

Last week, the local cinema aired a documentary film called, Call me Kuchu ( )about a man named David Kato who gave his life to the LGBT movement in Uganda. Everyone should see this documentary.  It was brave and beautiful. For all of our friends wanting marriage and equality in the states, it certainly reminds us that the fight isn’t over for any of us, and we have a lot of work left to do to insure that everyone has equal rights. 

These experiences reiterated what I already believed: art has the power to speak, empower, enlighten, and change minds. It’s not magic or foolproof, but art is an invaluable tool in promoting change and empathy.

This thought has made me very proud to work on En El Corazon, a play about displaced families in Colombia. Today, Give Us Names ( and many other organizations are searching new ways to help displaced families in Colombia. I am so glad that Brian, a friend from the organization, asked us to give voice to this issue.

This year, I will be blogging about my experiences while I am studying. I hope to see different types of art while I am here and also see how art is used to advocate for the greater good.

Of course I will be keeping you up to date on all of the latest Wishbone news. Don’t worry. Wishbone will be doing some funny shows. There is room for all types of theatre in this world. And this next sketch show will be all about laughing your face off!

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