New theatre work examines corporate psychology

Headlines Theatre tours to Calgary

Corporations in Our Heads is the newest theatre work from the pre-eminent Canadian forum theatre company Theatre for Living (previously known as Headlines Theatre). On November 9 and 10 David Diamond the artistic managing director of Theatre for Living will be in Calgary to host a unique project about the corporate messages that live within our collective psyche. For this show not only has the script been thrown out the window but there isn’t even a play and not a single actor in the spotlight. Instead the project relies on the community to become part of the process — and to take further action.

“In the end it will be up to audiences each time in the event because they will determine the stories” says Diamond. “My hope is that we have the courage in a way not to look at how to change that thing out there but how to change ourselves.”

That self-reflexive and socially conscious attitude has defined the theatre company right from its humble beginnings in Vancouver in 1981 and it continues to exemplify creative leadership around the most sensitive topics in contemporary public debate. Diamond’s first prominent role in the company as associate director of the 1982 production Right to Fight addressed affordable housing. Later Diamond wrote The Enemy Within which satirized B.C. politics in 1986. Two years later he had his directorial debut for the company with one of its Power Plays which use theatre games and exercises to explore social issues and create community-specific theatre.

Corporations in Our Heads is one of Diamond’s more experimental works in his effort to reach out to community through art. Based on the work of Brazilian theatre visionary Augusto Boal creator of Theatre for the Oppressed Diamond’s new work is an original interpretation of Boal’s Cops in the Head but takes an entirely different approach. “The rules of the Theatre of the Oppressed I’ve thrown them right out the window” says Diamond.

The production asks Calgary residents to reflect on share act on and change the dominant messages that influence society . “The reason to do the thing for me is there’s a lot of good work happening out there on how the messages of corporations affect our consuming” says Diamond. “But I don’t think we’re doing a lot of talking about how those messages affect our own images not just of ourselves but of our relationships with each other. And it’s at the relationship level in fact that our consuming originates.”

Corporations in Our Heads will be facilitated by (or “joked by” as Theatre for Living puts it) Diamond himself who incites the audience to participate. “The power of it for me is that it really is a democratic thing” he says. “While we are framing the general subject matter Corporations in Our Heads the actual content really is going to be determined by the people who enter the room that night. And nobody — not me not the sponsoring groups nobody — is going to be able to predetermine the content.”