Performing Resistance is a research project about workers’ theatre and other cultural approaches to activism in the labour movement. This website is a place to share some of that work and celebrate political culture, past and present. We hope it will be a useful forum for cultural workers, activists, and researchers alike – and any other interested parties who might be inspired to get involved!
Workers’ theatre and what…?
Agitprop plays for picket lines and beautiful banners at rallies are just some of the ways labour movement activists use art and performance to tell a story. Behind-the-scenes there is also a lot going on. Protests and direct-action tactics may be choreographed – even rehearsed – while some organisations use culture to strengthen their movement from the inside out, through activities never intended for the public eye.
This project is interested in both the public-facing and internal cultural praxis of workers’ movements. It brings together activists and artists who specialise in community theatre; street art; filmmaking for the rank and file; creative direct-action tactics; and work with trades councils on social hubs to house gigs and foodbanks.
These examples are based on the work of project partners and participants. We are also interested in hearing from you about the work that you do… or about what approaches are useful… or could be useful in your community.
We work directly with artists and activists, many of whom have got to know each other over the years through our own political and creative networks.
8 online workshops are our starting point for this project to share practices activists and artists are using at the moment. The workshops will run from May 2023, and will be led by activists and artists in Brazil, India, North America, and the UK.
The workshops will lead to more activities run as part of the project. These include seminars to share connected practice, and workshops for schools in low-income areas of the Southwest of England.
We’ll update the blog and website with more information as the events are organised. Watch this space!
Website / Archive
This website will develop alongside the project.
As well as running events and documenting them here, we also want to use the website as a place to share strategies between activists and organisers around the world, beyond those directly involved in our events.
We are in the process of creating a publicly accessible archive, linked to this website, as a place to store that material (photos, articles, videos, sound…). Please contact us if you’re interested in sharing material there for others to learn about and use.
As well as current approaches, we’re interested in past approaches too, and historical documentation of cultural organising and campaigning.
Some more details…
The full title of the research project is Performing Resistance: theatre and performance in 21st century workers’ movements. It is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and runs between October 2022-October 2024.