June has always been a month for reflection for myself. The June 4th Massacre memorial always reminds me to continue in the pursuit of justice no matter what. Things do not get better this year – 27 years since 1989, the CCP is still denying victims’ families the right to mourn. Arrests happened all over the country as people trying more and more creative way to raise awareness. To add to this gloom, the arrest and disappearing acts of bookstore owner and his staff has urged us to think more about freedom of speech, freedom of publication and whether “one country, two systems” is still enforced in Hong Kong. Moving away from Hong Kong, what happened in Charlotte and Orlando, USA, the shooting and bombing in Germany, Turkey, Bangladesh, Iraq as well as the worldwide situation of refugees were also disturbing and called for our attention in the day-to-day fight in human rights and dignity to be different. On the other hand, as the longest civil conflict in the world ceasefire in Columbia, one also wonder maybe peace is achievable?
What does it mean to be a minority? What does it mean to be privileged? And what can we do as Playbackers to support the change that needs to be seen now?
In the first three weeks of June, we have hosted an online exchange hub on the topic of “Conflicts in Conferences”. Thanks to the facilitation of Jonathan and Nisha, we have begun to have more insights on what different people think about how we could communicate better as a large group. The debate was heated and sometimes with strong feelings. It felt that three weeks were both too long and too short. As we pause to reflect on our own, I would also like to say that more of these exchange hubs will continue to come and provide space for us to exchange. (Click here to read “The Summary of the Exchange Hub on ‘Conflicts in Conferences.’”)
In this era of social media in which the computer algorithms help decide for us what is being pushed to us according to our ‘likes’ and interests, it is getting more and more difficult to have full picture of the story. We are constantly reading opinions and stories from the perspectives that are similar to ours. By unfollowing or unfriending someone, we can easily opt out from their line of thoughts and comments. On one hand, it might have built solidarity. On the other hand, it might have hindered our effectiveness in enhancing communications from different sides. I have no answer to that. But I find it very comforting that at least in Playback, we can have a space that is open for ALL to express and be creative.
With all that questions, the upcoming gathering of Japanese Playbackers in July, the European Playback Gathering in April 2017 in Budapest, Hungary and the Asian Pacific Playback Theatre Conference in Nov 2017 in Hiroshima, Japan* would hopefully provide you with that space you need to reflect, recharge and reconcile with our past and move on to the future.
*There is a story about this Asian Pacific Playback Theatre Conference and I shall tell it in another article as we make the official announcement.