Surprise and Serious Play in Creative Nonviolence: De-escalation and 'Changing the Channel' in Public Space Confrontations.

In this session, we will examine and discuss how tactically sly but sincerely ethical performance techniques can deescalate confrontations in public spaces such as libraries, while creating mediagenic and sympathetic imagery to build support for democratic values.


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About L.M. Bogad

L.M. Bogad (Guggenheim Fellow 2021; Art and Controversy Fellow, Carnegie Mellon University; Humanities and Political Conflict Fellow, Arizona State University; Arts and Publics Fellow, Northwestern University, Charlotte Newcombe Fellow, Institute for Scholars and Citizens) is an author, theatre artist, and game designer specializing in humor, imagination, and theatrics in social movements. He is Professor of political performance at U.C. Davis, and the author of the books TACTICAL PERFORMANCE: The Theory and Practice of Serious Play (currently being translated into Farsi by “Woman, Life, Freedom” activists in Iran), ELECTORAL GUERRILLA THEATRE: Radical Ridicule and Social Movements, and PERFORMING TRUTH: Works of Radical Memory for Times of Social Amnesia. His original plays and performances include ECONOMUSIC, HAYMARKET, SANTIAGO 9/11/1973, and TAHRIR. He hosts his podcast, THE PLAGUE.

Bogad has won major grants from the California Arts Council/San Francisco Foundation ($100,000) and the Creative Work Fund ($50,000) in support of SYMPHONY OF JUSTICE/SINFONIA DE LA JUSTICIA, a long-term performance project he is creating with indigenous immigrant Mexican farmworkers who pick the grapes for the Napa wine industry. His play, A FAIR FIGHT, dramatizes his family, immigrants to the Lower East Side of New York who became bootleggers during Prohibition and found themselves in an armed conflict with the Ku Klux Klan upstate. The projections for the stage piece are illustrated by his father. His play COINTELSHOW (published in two editions by PM Press) is a performance drawing on actual FBI documents about COINTELPRO, the controversial program by which they surveilled and disrupted domestic activist movements. It is a satire that asks serious questions about national security and power. He has performed this piece most recently in New Orleans (Mondo Bizarro), Boston (Emerson Arts), Mexico City (Hemispheric Institute for Performance and Politics’ Encuentro), and at the San Francisco Mime Troupe’s Studio. His many essays, plays, and books, are taught in theatre classes internationally.

Bogad was the Creator and Artistic Director of Delivering Democracy, a troupe of dancing mailboxes and ballot boxes which entertained and informed voters in 2020 across the “battleground state” of Pennsylvania, joyfully resisting authoritarian disinformation and voter repression. Bogad has innovated playful interventions, street theatre, and mediagenic pranks with social movement organizations for 25 years, leading workshops internationally in twenty countries, from Chile to Finland, from New Zealand to Egypt (during the first phase of the 2011 Revolution), on picket lines, in squatted buildings, and in major museums and theatres. He is a Cabinet Member and WPA Artist with the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture, alumnus of the Lincoln Center Theatre Directors Lab, and cofounder of the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army.