Thanks to everyone who was involved in USFCAM’s project with Pedro Reyes on January 23, 2014!
The performance was truly a collaborative effort that included USF College of the Arts faculty and students. The USF percussion ensemble and jazz combos played Reyes’ unique instruments, crafted from firearms confiscated and disabled by the Mexican Army, which are on view at USFCAM in the exhibition CAM@25: Social Engagement through March 8. Everyone who attended the sold-out event was invited to participate in the performance, which was created by Reyes in partnership with USF Theatre professor Dora Arreola, and USF and Community Stepping Stones students, to encourage dialogue and address issues related to the Second Amendment.
As the audience entered the black box theatre, USF and Community Stepping Stones students directed the 100-plus audience members to sit in seats arranged in circles of eight on what is usually considered the stage, inverting the traditional audience/performer paradigm. Inspired by Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed, this structure transformed the audience from spectators into “spect-actors” and collaborators in the performance. USF and Community Stepping Stones students performed a sketch, developed in a series of workshops with Reyes and Arreola, inviting the audience to engage in a democratic exercise to amend and update the Second Amendment in an effort to reduce gun violence.
The Second Amendment: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
The participants included a broad spectrum of community members, USF faculty and students. The discussions were lively and energetic, with participants sharing their beliefs and experiences with guns in respectful and productive ways, and while opinions were varied, there was still much common ground to work from in each of the participating groups.
After 30 minutes of discussion, the students facilitators invited one representative from each group to present their proposed revisions of the Second Amendment. Most groups felt the concept of the well-regulated militia was out-dated and needed to be revised or removed entirely. Many groups presented specific proposals including education, minimum age requirements and background checks, as well as raising issues about the power of the NRA and mental health issues in their revisions. One group decided the amendment should not be changed, but the majority included some form of regulation of firearms in their revised amendments.
Example Revised Amendment:
“A well regulated military being necessary for the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be prohibited but shall be regulated to protect the security of the people from the will of the individual.”
The event took place just one week after a fatal shooting in a Tampa Bay area movie theatre resulted from an argument between two patrons over texting (story, story) and within months of a failed effort to revise and repeal Stand Your Ground laws in the Florida Legislature (story). Providing a safe space to engage in challenging dialogue about critical social issues, Amendment to the Amendment: (Under)stand Your Ground succeeded in starting a conversation we hope continues.
Video to Come
Stay tuned for video of the revised amendments which will be posted here and on our IRAUSF youtube channel in the future.
To learn more about Pedro’s work , check out the media coverage:
Media: Amendment to the Amendment: (Under)stand Your Ground
NPR Story: “Artist Transforms Guns To Make Music — Literally“
WUSF Radio University Beat: Gun Music
FOX News pre-performance report
Tampa Bay Times: Artist Turns Guns Into Music with a Message