Magazine article American Theatre

From Nairobi to Atlanta

Magazine article American Theatre

From Nairobi to Atlanta

Article excerpt

NAIROBI, KENYA: The first-ever delegation of U.S. artists--organized by the New York City-based Foundry Theatre, Ma-Yi Theater Company and the Hip-Hop Theater Festival--attended the seventh edition of the World Social Forum in Nairobi, Kenya, in January. The WSF provides the world's largest public space for the imagining of an alternative, people-centered future.

The 25 American artists were among 70,000 progressives, grassroots organizers, NGOs and activists from around the world who converged in Nairobi to exchange ideas; to present ongoing experiments in economic, ecological and political practices; and to engage in a creative process for social change. Every year since 2001, under the banner "Another World Is Possible," the WSF has provided space for people from different regions to think together about the connection between local and international issues and to make room for innovative alternatives to the dominant definition of globalization, based solely on economic principles.

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"Many artists have been looking for ways to connect what we do in our own communities to larger global movements," notes Ma-Yi artistic director Ralph Pena. "Many of us are seeking active roles in the ongoing creation of a new polis, one that derives its mandate from a community of artists, and not from the interests of institutions."

The event featured more than 500 panel discussions, roundtables and plenary sessions over six days. Delegate Sunder Ganglani remembers, "Each room I walked into presented a different understanding of the world, a different relationship to power, another articulation of possibility--it was the most creative process I've ever experienced. …

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