The Non-Prophet festival is a gathering of local and international performance artists, theatre and filmmakers collectively considered as “artivists” – Public entertainers who are social activists, concerned about the socioeconomic welfare of the earth’s natural and human resources. The projects we envisage creating consist of devised collaborations in a community context that challenge the notion of success and well-being that mainstream media and the leisure industry propose. The goal of artivism and The Non-Prophet Festival is inclusivity and therefore we entertain all social groups and cultural practices that defines our community. We aim to revolutionise through collaborative devising and performance techniques the latent potentiality of dramatic and non-dramatic practices as a means of political and social engagement through the arts on a local and global level.
The objective of The Non-Prophet festival is to contextualise the ideological, political and historical background of community entertainment as social practice. Mainstream entertainment has perpetuated its social place within modern capitalism while alternative means of entertainment offered by this festival seeks to transform our concept of community. Analysing the creative process alongside performances of mainstream and alternative forms of entertainment within the community we will compare and contrast the cultural and ethical values proposed by both. Each project begins with a real social issue or situation in a specific place and through a process of exploration will be developed into a performance piece.
We aim to revolutionise through collaborative devising and performance techniques the latent potentiality of dramatic and non-dramatic practices as a means of political and social engagement through the arts on a local and global level. Participants who by virtue of their professional and personal experience within their community can create a “theatre of experts” to stage public performances on a non-profit basis. Projects will not be limited to the usual sources of public entertainment or conventional framing devices associated with the leisure industry. Though the local park and community groups provides ample space a wealth of natural and human resources participants will be welcome from all walks of life and events will occur in different public venues such as the Main Square, the Town Hall and Claremorris Public Library where the Claremorris Film Society project films and many other musical and literary events are held.
How can we as artivists create and develop through performance in a community context, the latent potential of our community and the public spectator to become a collaborative artivist rather than passive colluder in social inequalities perpetuated by mainstream entertainment? How can we as artivists challenge the image of reality created in mainstream entertainment by revealing the creative process and objective of our performances? How can artivism become a performed rehearsal for life rather than a representation by suggesting instead of imposing upon the audience ethical practices motivated by commonality rather than individuality? How can rehearsal and performance techniques as well as collaborative devising practices in a community context resist the notion of professionalism within entertainment? How by giving equal importance to the entire process of a festival production including the publicâ€™s presence and participation at performances can create a shared sense of ownership and responsibility within a community. How The Non-Prophet Festival can dispute the belief that the apogee of human success is to be a professional when failing to appear so may help redefine the negative term mediocrity into a positive cultural value and engender a more balanced society. In terms of performance as an artivist in a community how is success or failure measured? How artivism challenges a dominant dramatic culture where so-called fictious stories, leading to the protagonists apparent happiness or tragic downfall, are mistaken for reality. People vicariously associate their own lives with those of the dramatis personae and often wrongly believe that this is the way the world is when there are as many outcomes as we can possibly imagine. How this non-profit oriented festival in a mediatised society has the potential to create a greater sense of community and socio-economic harmony on a local and global scale by enabling us to define our own concepts of happiness and success through the creation of cultural products and values within our own community in harmony with an ecologically sustainable and ethical environment.
Mixing theatre, music and documentary film with local and international performers in a rural setting means the community will get to meet the makers of alternative theatre and documentaries. With family events, workshops for all ages running in parallel, post-show and panel discussions with theatre and documentary makers, academics and experts in different fields related to our project, this festival will be a great gathering event for local artists to return home once a year to perform and share the experience of their artistic journeys with friends and family as well as boost the local economy. The performance events will be to the best of their ability environmentally friendly and when possible free or based on a community exchange system between members of the local and international community. This is to engender a sense of community not based on monetary exchange but an exchange of services and to redevelop a sense of a self-sustaining community that doesn’t rely heavily on the import and export of products or services that are readily available within the community. And when not available to imagine ways we can work together to make it possible that such services and products can become so. Social change needs to come from the bottom up as well as the top down where all the community need to be involved and not just passive spectators. The objective of this exchange system is to help people feel they have a sense of purpose within their community and to preserve the natural and intellectual resources of a community. This is why we are looking at participatory artistic and social activist practices that can be implemented on a non-profit basis in a more autonomous self-sustaining, less competitive and more cooperative community. By creating a non-profit oriented multi-media festival addressing environmental issues and social activism through artistic practices within a rural community context we’ll be able to transform the role of mainstream and local media and how it shapes culture.
As artists living in this community often forced to ply our trade elsewhere it is an opportunity for us to give something back to the community as well as practice what we preach not just on palette or page to adorn vacant walls, the empty stage or blank screen but to give immediate consideration and meaning to our everyday environment. It will also insure over time that we can live and prosper in our local community rather than having to immigrate to seek employment. Thus we will also be here to work within the community to nurture our sense of belonging as well as mentoring the next generation of budding artivists.
The centerpiece of this festival will be a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream as a promenade play, drawing on a combination of local talent fusing tradition and technology with artistic practices to reflect Shakespeare’s hopeful vision for humanity. In this play Shakespeare is using the structure of the ancient Greek Dionysian Festival. It was the main occasion for the presentation of tragedies but while these plays produces fear and pity Shakespeare’s comedy leads to harmony. At the great Dionysian Festival three poets would compete with each other just as Shakespeare’s mechanicals in A Midsummer Night’s Dream compete with other groups to present their merry-tragedy for the court of Theseus, the Duke of Athens. The Dionysian festivals began with a procession led by an honoured individual carrying a large phallus, which Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream as the donkey represents. Shakespeare juxtaposes the golden age of Pericles and the golden age of Elizabeth. And just as orphaned children of a war torn world are given a stipend to help them thrive in the time of Pericles the mechanicals also receive a reward from the nobles for their play: A play, which holds a mirror up to the aristocratic ruling society and how their notion of law and order almost leads to tragedy. In Ancient Greece as in the time of Shakespeare the audience as well as lauding praise upon the performers would also have been able to hurl abuse as well as apples and tomatoes at the players if they didn’t like what they saw. No matter what out social position or role in society there is always a pressure in performance to please but not so long ago theatre was a public event and much more participatory in the sense that the actors on stage were often locals, known more so by their daily trades, like Quince the carpenter; Bottom the weaver; Snug the joiner, etc. in A Midsummer Night’s Dream As the often-quoted Jaques says in Shakespeare’s As you Like it. All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts, As You Like It Act 2, scene 7, 139–143 We too have many parts we can play to participate to celebrate life within our community. Shakespeare’s plays represent the many tiers, trades and traditions that create a sense of cultural identity and behaviour throughout the ages. During the consumer frenzy of the Celtic tiger we seemed to somehow have lost our way in a world forested by technology and multi-media communication with people virtual than real at times. However, out of this chaos and confusion we’ve become creative once again and more grounded with a renewed sense of community. Like ‘Bottom the weaver’ - in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, we’ve begun to rethread life’s tapestry on stage merging theatre and technology in harmony with our natural environment to strengthen the cultural bonds between the arts and society to create a brighter future from our fragmented dreams.
While nowadays we tend to associate theatre as a closed and darkened space whereas Shakespeareâ€™s public would often see plays in the afternoon under an open sky, which is why we wish to perform A Midsummer Nightâ€™s Dream in the Park to demonstrate how we can use the natural and human resources of our community to create an environmentally-friendly festival for the benefit of the community and artists within the community working with the community for the community.
Artivism: Artists and Activists creatively working and playing together within a community context.