Contemporary culture is concerned with the freedom of self-expression as an unalienable human right. In this workshop, Julia Pascal and Mahnaz Yousefzadeh explore instead the meaning and stakes of the acts of “listening” and not expressing. Through encounters with literary and philosophical texts of Greek, Christian and Persian traditions (Plato, Augustine and Rumi), as well as drawing from theatre methods, they explore not only the creative and liberatory possibilities in the act of listening, but also crucially the danger involved.
Mahnaz Yousefzadeh teaches global humanities at NYU. She adopts an experiential approach to the teaching of philosophical and literary texts. In this workshop she will bring the participants into encounters with Plato, St. Augustine and the Persian 14th century poet Rumi to explore the liberatory as well as creative possibilities of the act of listening.Rumi and Augustine
- Video Sonorous and Time in St. Augustine:
- Powerpoint, augustine rumi-2
Julia Pascal is a playwright/ theatre director who teaches Writing at NYU. Her texts are often inspired by the interviews, living testimony and music. She will explore how the human voice can affect creativity and writing. How can listening work as a stimulus and how can sharpening this ability help a student develop?
- JULIA PASCAL Performance and Writing Exercise: visual+sonorous.
The philosophy of all Western drama is rooted in Aristotle’s Poetics and the concept of the Five Act Play. In the twentieth century this was modernised into the idea of the Three Act structure where the audience witness set-up, crisis and resolution.Today, most playwrights are aware that every speech should also have three acts. Connecting Aristotle’s Poetics and the importance of the concept of Crisis and Catharsis, Pascal also related this to Bertolt Brecht’s Theatre Writings. Brecht stressed that character should be created not only to elicit an emotional response but also to make the audience aware of the character’s economic and political status.The theory of the Verfremdungseffekt, the idea of distancing the audience from the character, and allowing analysis rather than empathy to dominate, is also linked to the use of the messenger in Greek tragedy where catastrophe is not witnessed but is revealed as poetry.Reading from her play Woman In The Moon, Pascal shared a monologue of Irene, a Jew pretending to be a Christian in the Warsaw streets of 1943 . Irene evokes the horror of her situation within the three act structure and also helps the audience understand the complexity of betrayal to the enemy, even by fellow Jews.By examining the three act structure, and by revealing how political terror can be realised through dramatic action, the students were made aware of how fear and catharsis can be explored through text. Although Aristotle and Brecht may seem to be distanced by the centuries, the students were able to see how Greek philosophy and German Marxist theatre can be synthesised.