Dear Participants of the Hemispheric Institute 2000 Encontro in Brazil!!
Welcome to the first international seminar/conference of the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics. This Institute, and this Encontro, resulted from many years of collaborative thinking and planning. The first conference of Performance and Politics was held in Harvard with special guest, Mexican political activist SUPERBARRIO. Superbarrio used the occasion of the conference to launch his candidacy for the U.S. presidency. His platform was simple: if the President of the U.S. impacts the life of everyone in the Americas, why shouldn’t everyone in the Americas vote in that election? Or run for office? Superbarrio’s hemispheric activism and broad, collective focus reflected ours.
The Institute, from its inception, aspired to bring together scholars, students, activists, and artists in the Americas who were interested in establishing and maintaining a dialogue. Many of us, whether artists or scholars or activists, deal with similar questions and topics—human rights, social justice, issues of identity organized around gender, sexuality, race and class. Some of us focus on street theatre; others design political demonstrations; others create installations; others re-interpret classical texts to address contemporary problems; others write theoretical works on the multiple intersections between performance and politics. But often our efforts fail to connect not only with those working in different countries, but with those using different vocabularies and aesthetic materials. How do our different theories and practices speak to each other? That’s what we’re here to find out.
During these two weeks, we will be engaged in a series of workshops, mini-seminars, debates, and performances designed to introduce us to each other. This Encontro in UNI-RIO, Brazil is a very special event. I want to thank Professor Zeca Ligiéro, the Director of the Institute in Brazil and the coordinator of the Encontro, for the time, energy, and creativity he has put into it. This event would not have been possible without him. I also want to thank everyone at UNI-RIO who has been involved in making this gathering possible, and in particular the Programa de Pós-Graduação em Teatro. Thanks also to Julie Taylor, Assistant Director of the Hemispheric Institute, and to Toby Volkman, Program Officer at the Ford Foundation. I hope that this is only the first of many such encounters.
Diana Taylor, Director