Community Play!/All Stars Alliance: Greensboro, NC

 

Community Play!/All Stars Alliance produces free cultural events, classes, and workshops in Greensboro, North Carolina. It was founded in and with the Warnersville community in Greensboro and has been in partnership with Greensboro Parks & Recreation and Lloyd International Honors College at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Inspired by the performance-based approach to learning and development in the national All Stars Project, and based upon the pioneering work of the Vygostkian developmentalist Dr. Lois Holzman and philosopher of science Dr. Fred Newman, Community Play! encourages people of all ages to grow, learn, and develop by playing with and trying out new roles and performances. We learn by engaging in ‘extra-curricular’ experiences–taking trips, visiting cultural institutions, meeting different kinds of people, having a chance to try new things. Such play is just as important for adults as it is for young people.  These kinds of experiences help us develop our abilities to recognize opportunities and act upon them. When we play, we develop; and not only do we learn better (becoming better learners), but we actively shape our lives, our communities, and our world. See slideshow. Director: Dr. Omar Ali, ohali@uncg.edu

 

 

 

Articles and Commentary:

Omar Ali and Nadja Cech, “‘Yes, And,’ as Teaching-Learning Methodology,” Teaching and Learning in Higher Ed (April 2017)

Catie Byrne, “Valentine’s Day Talent Show,” The Carolinian (February 16, 2015)

Omar H. Ali, “Fulani’s Tools and Results: Development as Black Empowerment?,'” Palimpsest: A Journal on Women, Gender and the Black International, Vol. 1, No. 1 (Spring 2012)

Lenora B. Fulani, “The Development Line: Helping the Poor to Grow, A Special Report on Solving the Poverty Crisis in America,” All Stars Project (April 2013)

Lois Holzman, “Become a Vygotskian!” A Conceptual Revolution, The Creative Side of Culture Change, Psychology Today (April 6, 2013)

Sheryl Scrimsher and Jonathan Tudge, “The Teaching/Learning Relationship in the First Years of School: Some Revolutionary Implications of Vygotsky’s Theory,” Early Education and Development, Volume 14, Number 3 (July 2003): 293-312. 

David Kohn, “Let the Kids Learn Through Play,” New York Times (May 16, 2015)

Anya Kamenetz, “Nonacademic skills are key to success. But what should we call them?” NPR Ed (May 28, 2015)

Jake Livengood, “Learning from Improv,” Inside Higher Education (June 15, 2015)

Sam McNerney, “What Improv Teaches us About Creativity,” Big Think: Smarter Faster (February 2017)

 

 
 

 

Plenary session on the interface of performance studies and performance activism at Performing the World 2012, hosted by Dan Friedman and Richard Schechner.

 
“The performance turn is widely acknowledged. The premise that all (or much) of human practices are performed, that humans, through performance, function as the active social constructors of their world is not only embodied in the discipline of performance studies, but has become part of the dialogue in anthropology, linguistics, ethnography, folklore, psychology, sociology, and history. What is generally less recognized, both by scholars and by political activists themselves, is the performance turn in social activism …”
Dan Friedman and Lois Holzman, “Performing the World: The Emergence of Performance Activism,” in Performance Studies in Motion, Atay Citorn et al., eds.(New York: Bloomsbury, 2014)
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
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Notes on history and performance …
 
* We simultaneously live in history (the seamless process of creative human activity) and society (particular institutional formations in history into which we are socialized). In the mid-19th century Karl Marx pointed out the dialectical process of our being both the producers and products of history in the following way: we “make our own history” but “under circumstances … given and transmitted from the past” (‘The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon,’ 1852).
 
* A century later, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would say how proud he was to be part of the “maladjusted” when it came to certain things in society–among these, discrimination, poverty, and violence.
 
* Building on this, and as Newman urged, maybe it is history to which we should be adjusting, not society? In history, we are more free to create; less restricted to replicate. Performing (playing, pretending) who we are not is a way of becoming, developing, growing. It is not a free-for-all, but a way of more self-consciously living simultaneously in society and history.
 

“We understand performance very broadly. From our point of view, performance might have nothing to do with being on the stage. We think you can perform at home, at work, in any social setting … With the proper kind of support, people discover they can, that we can, do things through performance that we never thought we could do … in a sense, we’re trying to broaden each person’s notion of ‘what you’re allowed to do.’”

(F. Newman, introductory remarks to performance of Trouble, an improvised play directed by Newman at Performance of a Lifetime in New York City, June 1, 1996)

 

Performing and Playing in the Warnersville community of Greensboro …

image imagepoetryreadingpoetbanjodancing

 

“What I mean by development is the ability that we have and that we can see in children all of the time of transforming qualitatively who they are into someone else, into from a baby to a toddler, from a toddler to a child, from a child to a teenager, and so on, that we transform the circumstances that we’re in and become bigger and greater and more knowledgeable and more passionate about things and more imaginative. And many of our institutions stifle that, so my passion is to re-initiate development in all those people that it has stopped, and to provide the best for the very young so that they can continue to thrive and develop.”

Lois Holzman, “Using Improvisation and Performativity as Teaching Tools” 

Communities in Greensboro with public housing

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