Synopsis of Workshop
Push Play is a hands-on workshop in which the participants will experiment through play: engaging theatrical memory exercises, embodying explorations of the past, and improvising and creating scenes. Through these exercises, the participants will be able to explore some of the core tensions in oral history, understand how the tools of art can help deepen our practice, and deliberate on questions such as:
i. How can we improve our understanding of memory, prompts and the interview process by engaging other artistic disciplines, such as theatre and performance art?
ii. How can we re-imagine the interview site itself as an opportunity to notice, acknowledge, and hold space for the “gaps” between us as interviewers, narrators, and stewards of oral history?
iii. What happens when we translate oral history to other forms?
The exercises will also enable the workshop participants to fully grasp what it means to ask a narrator to share their “stories.” By observing what provokes us and where our own limits may lie, we can better understand the vulnerability in the basics of oral history i.e. to make public the private domain of memory. In keeping with the IOHA 2020 theme of “Harmony & Disharmony: Bringing Together Many Voices”, the workshop will pay special attention to when our voices are in consonance or dissonance, as well as the moments of connection and misunderstanding.
The Push Play workshop is a collaboration between Liza Zapol and Nicki Pombier Berger, and has been performed at the Oral History Association (OHA) Annual Meetings in 2016 and 2017, the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution in 2018, and numerous times at Columbia University in conjunction with the Oral History Master of Arts (OHMA) programme. It is the foundation for a semester-long course that Liza Zapol and Nicki Pombier Berger teach at OHMA, called SERIOUS PLAY: Oral History and the Art of Story.
About the Trainers
Nicki Pombier Berger is an oral historian, writer and educator who teaches at Columbia University’s Oral History Master of Arts programme, and at The New School College of Performing Arts in the Drama BFA Program. More information about her work can be found at www.nickipombierberger.com.
Liza Zapol is an artist, oral historian, and educator who teaches at Columbia University’s Oral History Master of Arts program. She managed the Oral History Program at the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution from 2017-2019. More information about her work can be found at oralhistory.columbia.edu/liza-zapol.