Interview with Uri Noy Meir

Question asked by Nikolai Kunitsõn.

Can You tell a little bit about Yourself? About Your work?

My name is Uri Noy Meir I was born in Israel and now I live in Rome; I am an actor\director and facilitator of Theater of the Oppressed and Participatory Photography. I have worked with TO and participatory photography in Nepal, India, Israel, Northern Ireland, The Us, and Italy, working with youth, adults, students, educators, activists and more. I am now in the process of establishing a locally based TO work in Rome, Italy

How did You start with TO?

I first encountered TO, and the writings of Augusto Boal walking among the lengthy corridors of the Library of my University. I have found Augusto Boal’s writing very inspiring in the way they provoked and challenged conventional Aristotelian thought and the way it challenged my own thought. It became clear for me that TO is my way in art, through the books and then through trainings I attended and through practicing TO I deepened my understanding and built my praxis (action and reflection). I trained in TO with great practitioners such as Barbra Santos, Chen Alon, Sanjoy Ganguly, Hector Arisitzabal and others.

What is TO for You? Is this a “way of life”, or a tool to change people? Or is it a tool to change society?

For me TO is many things; “a way of life”, an aesthetic method, a movement\family of artists and activists, and a philosophical attitude that believes in change; through seeing human beings first of all as creative beings. For me changing people and changing society is two sides of the same coin, as society is made up by many people that share and dialogue on the perceptions of it. For me the aim is to facilitate change and not push towards it or direct it; I believe that in order facilitate change you need to be open to the people you work with (that will not always share your own dispossession). I always aim to make visible the invisible, expose social realities and suggest art and theater as a way to explore our lives; transforming and changing our perceptions of what is “possible”, what is “beautiful”, what is “real” and what the “truth” is.

 What do you think, what is the greatest possibilities in TO?

I think that TO have a great possibility to be a constructive tool to inspire and communities and inspire direct and creative actions. TO have the possibility to be part of the search for a better and more just world in which we all are creators and producers of art and culture. I believe this change is already happening around us with new media channels playing an important rule for youth and adults to share their self-created art. I think also that certain movements that call for solidarity and true democracy have the TO way of thought in their DNA (like the occupy Wall Street movement, the youth of the Arab spring, and the anti-globalization youth movements in Greece and Spain).

 A little bit more about newspaper theatre – what to think of it? Why is it special? Is it actual in nowadays democratic societies?

Newspaper theatre is considered the first technique to be introduced to the Theatre of the Oppressed. Born out of a necessity, in the midst of Boal’s experience as theater artist under the military dictatorship, Newspaper theatre by Boal is an aesthetic tool and a tool for activism bundled up together. Making theatre out of a Newspaper or performing the Newspaper was not entirely new, but the way that Boal practiced and the context it was developed as theatrical form that comments on the reality was unique. I see Newspaper Theater as special because it tells so much about the praxis of TO and of its principles. Today we don’t see so many printed newspapers as before but we are very much dominated by the news written and broadcasted through the media. This is way I think Newspaper Theatre in the Praxis of Boal is very relevant and actual; to be a tool of developing critical awareness of the media and to produce aesthetic and creative responses that inspire actions in the reality.

What will be the goals/results of the workshop in Estonia?

As a person and as an artist\facilitator I always try not to be tied down to expectations and results too much. I see the best result as a full commitment to the process and the dedication to the saying: “We Make the Road by Walking”. I am excited and thankful on the possibility to come to Estonia and work with MTÜ Foorumteater group and all the participants. So the best possible result is to have an exciting time exploring Newspaper Theatre.

 You’re very active on international TO family. Can You explain your work, ideas and dreams in that field?

Meeting TO practitioners around the world has been very inspirational for me personally and professionally and gave me a lot of knowledge and tools to act with. Through the FB and maybe in the future through a more dynamic international website I try to give back to the TO community in creating new platform to present and reflect on our practice.

Anything else you would like to add?

Well maybe just a quote by Augusto Boal:

“In truth the Theatre of the Oppressed has no end, because everything which happens in it must extend into life….The Theatre of the Oppressed is located precisely on the frontier between fiction and reality – and this border must be crossed. If the show starts in fiction, its objective is to become integrated into reality, into life.”

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