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Open Call: The Exception and the Rule

Are you an artist with a foot in activism, a community organizer, or a small business owner? Are you someone who questions the status quo? Are you interested in uncovering structures of power and exclusion? Are you the exception and the rule? This spring, London-based artists Karen Mirza and Brad Butler present a collection of […]

Are you an artist with a foot in activism, a community organizer, or a small business owner?
Are you someone who questions the status quo?
Are you interested in uncovering structures of power and exclusion?
Are you the exception and the rule?

Brad Butler performing Act(ion) 000167, Blackwood Gallery, Toronto
Courtesy SAVAC (South Asian Visual Arts Center), Toronto and Blackwood Gallery, University of Toronto Mississauga

This spring, London-based artists Karen Mirza and Brad Butler present a collection of film, text, and performed actions in the exhibition The Museum of Non Participation: The New Deal, on view in the Walker’s Medtronic Gallery from April 18 to July 14, 2013. As part of this project, Mirza and Butler are inviting local residents to workshop and stage one of Bertolt Brecht’s short “learning plays” The Exception and the Rule. The “rule” implies a legal language or a directive, while the “exception” evokes being ungovernable or searching for an alternative to either the state or the free market. Together, they act as both a statement, that “the rule cannot exist without the exception,” and a question, as to what a state of exception might be. Through the story of a merchant and his servant, The Exception and the Rule explores themes of capitalism and economics, labor and hierarchy, legislation and state ideology, hiding and secrecy, and the lack of union rights. The artists invite you to eat, talk, rehearse, and perform together in order to explore and enact how these themes play out in our daily lives, as well as to consider how these can be extended to the audience as active participants.

The Exception and the Rule is one of Brecht’s several Lehrstucke or teaching plays. Brecht himself translated the term as “learning play” intended to educate people primarily about socialist politics. Typically, this form of political theater privileges function above content and foregrounds collective teaching and learning through various modes of performance. It attempts to break down any division between author and audience through reflexive gestures that reveal the “mechanics of theater.” Through this and other plays, Brecht developed a way for non actors to learn through playing roles, adopting postures, getting rid of the divide between actors and audience, and focusing on process rather than a final project. Working in the same vein, Mirza and Butler encourage you to enter into the project with the spirit of mutual enrichment and collaboration, where personal experiences/expertise and collective interpretation ultimately converge in the public presentation of the play.

Dates and Times:

Friday April 5, 7–9 pm: Social evening with participants (optional)

Saturday April 6, 11–6 pm: Games for actors and non actors facilitated by Karen Mirza and Brad Butler, based on Brazilian director Augusto Boal’s Theater of the Oppressed, a tool for social change

Saturday April 7, 11–6 pm: Forum theater–development of the games method and thinking through the implication of the audience in the play

Saturday April 13, 11–6 pm: Close reading of The Exception and the Rule and development of characters

Sunday April 14, 11–6 pm: Voice work, performance and body choreography

Thursday April 18, 7 pm: Public presentation of The Exception and the Rule in the Walker’s Medtronic Gallery

We ask that applicants commit to being present for all sessions, your regular participation is essential for the group to work as a whole.

Apply Now!

To participate in the workshops and staging of the play, please fill in the short application form here, by Friday, February 8, 2013.

Applications are free and open to anyone, however registration will be limited to up to 10 individuals. Hospitality and a small stipend will be offered to the selected participants.

If you have any questions about the application process, please contact Yesomi Umolu or Susy Bielak