99 Per Cent Drama

Occupy Movement Takes the Stage With Activist Theatre

Graphic Paku Daoust-Cloutier

Although the Occupy movement may have faded from headlines, it’s still alive and well on the stage. On March 31, Occupy Theatre! will have the ideals
behind the movement in the spotlight—and the audience conducting a sit-in.

“[We] wanted to try and keep things alive and continue the conversation,” said Donovan King, one of the organizers and a member of the Optative Theatrical Laboratories.

King is known to Montreal audiences as the founder of the Infringement Festival, which he created in 2004 as a response to what he calls the Fringe Festival’s conflict-of-interest sponsorships and registration fees. Since then, Infringement Fest has spread to half a dozen other cities.

Saturday’s Occupy Theatre! performance is being directed
by artist Laurence Tenenbaum and is organized by members of the OTL with the goal of challenging oppression. OTL believe theatre can bring about social change.

“The movement has put theatre activism and culture-jamming into the global spotlight,” said King.

Although he says that drama and theatre were being used effectively when the Occupy movement began in September, art within activism is an inte-gral part of continuing involvement.

Theatre makes the Occupy message more entertaining and easier to understand for audiences, King said. He referenced popular activists such as director Michael Moore, Adbusters magazine and culture-jamming duo The Yes Men for using drama and theatre to protest against corporate excess and mainstream politics.

The organizers initially came up with the idea of Occupy Theatre! because they were involved with Occupy and wanted to continue their support of the movement.

“Theatre activism is seen as a tool to fight against oppressive environments, situations, and discourses, ideally causing reflection and prompting social change,” said King.

“Theatre activism is seen as a tool to fight against oppressive environments, situations, and discourses, ideally causing reflection and prompting social change.”
–Donovan King, Optative Theatrical Laboratory Organizer

OTL is looking to provide political artists, occupiers, and musicians an opportunity to perform acts encompassing the theme of the Occupy movement. They have been planning the show for the past three months and hope that Occupy Theatre! will spur more projects of its kind in the future.

The project is the second in a series of three events leading up to the ninth annual Montreal Infringement Festival in which Occupy Theatre! will be shown.

The festival begins on June 14, and will run for 10 days. The curators accept and encourage any sort of art at the festival, in keeping with their goal of celebrating freedom of expression in response to an oppressive worldview.

Saturday’s showt will be hosted by Tenenbaum and is set to feature various acts from local artists such The Truther Girls, Koby Rogers Hall, Rebecca Anne Banks, Karen Spilak, Donovan King, and Wolf Castle, along with other guests from the Occupy movement.

“The event will energize people and build more networks for future collaborations,” said King.

Occupy Theatre! / March 31 / 8:00 p.m. / Copacabana Bar (3519 st. Laurent blvd.) / by donation.