Inclusion today: Body Think Tank in support of Yulia Tsvetkova and the youth activist theater "Merak"
Youth activist theater "Merak" is an example of intersectional understanding of inclusion. Yulia Tsvetkova, director, artist and human rights activist, staged the play Pink and Blue in March 2019 with actors and actresses aged 5 to 17. The performance is a search for new forms of interaction based on love and acceptance of oneself, one's body and another person. Working on the show itself was a nurturing practice that led the ensemble to create an aesthetic of access and honest cooperation. It can be spoken of as a post-inclusive practice in which neurodversity and difference are not explained at all, but treated as natural. A society in which inclusion and diversity as an ethical and aesthetic reality are important values, starts from the individual and their needs.
The actors and actresses of "Pink and Blue" and Yulia raise this topic in the theater and rethink inclusion as an active position of a person. Such a process is possible only through criticism of stereotypes, therefore "Merak" is an important event in the field of social theater and forces a critical rethinking of the monopolization of inclusion in Russian centers and its inaccessibility for residents of small towns. These are the topics that are of interest to children and adolescents: “Dislike and rejection of oneself is manifested in auto-aggression. People torture themselves. I imagine these people, and I'm really scared that this is happening in real life" - said the former actor of the youth theater-balagan "Merak" in one interview, commenting on the importance of the "Color of Saffron" festival, three times disrupted by the administration of Komsomolsk-on-Amur. The festival talked about the need for a person's personal activist position if we all want to live in a society of diversity, where there is no violence, personality correction and stereotypes.
The case against Yulia Tsvetkova began with the Merak theater. "Pink and Blue" served as one of the reasons for the persecution of the artist. Law enforcement agencies consider the performance to be dangerous, which suggests that local inclusion in Russia is at risk.
Researchers, artists, educators will take part in the next Body Think Tank in support of Yulia Tsvetkova, Anna Khodyreva and the ensemble of the youth activist theater "Merak." The discussion will be accompanied by a viewing of scenes from the play "Pink and Blue" and a discussion of the inclusive practices of the work of "Merak."
Anna Khodyreva - art pedagogue, psychologist, administrator of the youth activist theater "Merak," mother of Yulia Tsvetkova.
Anton Ryanov is a philologist, artist, performer and co-member of the "Androgyne and Centaur" art group, curator of art and inclusive art projects.
Vera Berlinova is an artist, performer and co-member of the "Androgyne and Centaur" art group, typhlokomentessa, inva activist.
Alexandra Kurlenkova is a disability and (assistive) technology researcher and a doctoral student in the Department of Culture, Media and Communication at New York University. She is engaged in research of alternative communication technologies and the practice of interaction of children with dysarthria in families.
Svetlana Borodina is an anthropologist and postdoctoral student at Columbia University who studies discourse and the practice of inclusion in Russia.
Sarah Phillips is a professor of anthropology at Indiana University and a disability researcher. Author of the book “Disability and Mobile Citizenship in Post-Socialist Ukraine.”
Christina Pokrytan is a humanist psychologist, inclusive sex educator, writer, friend of all teenagers, host of the podcast "Say: Penis."
Sofia Savina is a student, actress of the youth activist theater-booth "Merak."
Moderator: Kira Shmyreva, theater pedagogue, curator of the Caring Theater project, assistant in the field of care and art.
Translation into English: Victoria Kravtsova, feminist researcher, activist, manager of the "Feminist Translocalities" project.
The meeting was organized with the support of feminist translocalities and Indiana University Russian Studies Workshop.
The discussion will take place on May 2 at 15:00 (Moscow), 14:00 (Berlin), 22:00 (Komsolsk-on-Amur), 08:00 (New York).
The discussion will not have audio descriptions or interpretation into sign language.