36th Annual Conference
October 15-18, 2015
White Plains, NY

Magnetic Forces:
Working with Attraction and Aversion to Difference & Social Justice

 

The deadline for submitting proposals has passed. Proposals are now being reviewed.
 

 

The drama therapy community is well-positioned to thrive in a space of magnetic push and pull; our work with ambivalence permits us the understanding that divergent forces can be the catalyst for change. Addressing intersections of culture and identity, including race, class, gender identity, sexual orientation, dis/ability, national origin, language, religion, body politics, and age, often creates a polarizing tension of attraction and aversion. On one hand, we may feel deep curiosity and desire to understand identities that differ from our own, but we may fall into the trap of appropriation and exotification of “the Other.” On the other hand, we may become repulsed by difference, feeling confused, afraid, or destabilized by facing our own experiences of privilege and oppression, and avoid these conversations altogether. When we are able to challenge these polarities through authentic encounter with one another, we may be able to co-create a new space for understanding and identification to occur. This conference is an invitation not only to develop our own awareness, but also to expand our knowledge and practice, and examine the ways in which drama therapy is uniquely poised to enact social change.

Navigating a terrain of such powerful forces begins by locating the self individually and as a community. Who are we and how do we identify? What biases and assumptions do we bring to the table? How does our experience with harm- both inflicting and receiving- affect our willingness to participate in dialogue? What are the ethics of power that arise when working with people whose identities may be different from our own? How do institutional expectations and needs influence both our practice and the experience of the clients whom we serve? In our efforts to obtain justice for our clients and community, what happens when we perform roles such as the Colonizer, Benevolent Savior, Martyr, or Victim?

The action methods embedded in drama and improvisation have much to offer the field of social justice. What are the mechanisms through which we express and work through the strong affects of shame, guilt, anger, and fear that may emerge? As drama therapists, how can we use embodiment, metaphor, tele, expression, transformation, roles, and containment as strategies for creating a space for encounter, reflection, and performance of change? In what ways could we begin to adjust our ethics, approaches, and expectations to transform our roles to that of allies or advocates? How do the arts allow for richer expression of harm and greater possibilities for hope?

We invite proposals for presentations that focus on the awareness, knowledge, and action needed to build stronger capacities for enacting social justice in our community. Please join us for the NADTA’s 36th Annual Conference at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in White Plains, NY from October 15-18, 2015. Together we will explore the push and pull of grappling with difference, coming together to inspire change not only in those with whom we work, but also within ourselves.

If you have any questions regarding the conference, please email: 2015conferencechair@nadta.org.

“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting our time.
But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
Aboriginal activist group, Queensland, 1970s

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