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Encountering Texts

The Multicultural Theatre Project and «Minority» Literature


Joi Carr

Encountering Texts represents the theory and praxis uncovered through an ongoing interdisciplinary arts-based critical pedagogy that engages students in critical self-reflection (disciplined, sustained thinking, requiring engagement) on difference. The Multicultural Theatre Project (MTP) is a dialogical encounter with literature through the dramatic arts. This book provides a blueprint for the multiple ways in which this enacted theory/method can be utilized as a high impact practice toward transformative learning. The significance of minority literature as fertile testing ground for raising and seeking to answer questions about difference is undisputed. To address this dynamic, this research utilizes Hans-Georg Gadamer’s hermeneutical method of understanding to engage students in the interpretive process using theatre as methodology. Gadamer’s concept, described as a fusion of horizons, provides a methodological approach by which students can bring their own «effective history» to the hermeneutical task. He argues that hidden prejudices keep the interpreter from hearing the text. Thus an awareness of these prejudices leads to an openness that allows the text to speak. The MTP facilitates this kind of subjectivity by engaging the interpreter holistically. This integrative work provides a promising pragmatic interdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning that creates bridges to liberatory knowledge, both cognitively and affectively.
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Chapter 7. Developing Story, Developing Students as Texts


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What can I say about the Multicultural Theatre Project except that it has opened my eyes about life. I came in confident that I would be able to perform any role given to me. Little did I realize that the role I would portray would be the hardest role that I will ever face: myself. … I learned not only about myself, but about life in general. Many times in my life, I have felt emotional pain, due to racial, religion, and peer isolation. Now that I think about it, MTP is the first time I had addressed discrimination openly with other people. I learned that I was not alone …”

—Carlos, MTP first-year student, Telecommunications Pepperdine University Alumnus 2005

The Whole Self to the Task: Mind/Body/Soul

You do not have to be an expert in the dramatic arts, just passionate enough about the work to get informed. Educate yourself and bring others in who can fill in the gaps. Your primary role is to function as shepherd over the creative process framed out of your critical understanding of the value of this powerful, critical, arts-based pedagogy. Again, you do not have to have a professional or academic background in theatre. Your commitment, your openness to the organic process, and your clarity of the goals in each step of the process will yield qualitative results. You will be modeling the payoff students...

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