'Re-Generation' gives voice to young adults in national elections

By Jessica Cook | Emory Report | Sept. 28, 2012

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A performance of "Re-Generation" at Emory in 2010. Photo By Aubrey Graham.

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What does it mean to be ethically engaged? How do young people figure out where they stand in a climate of media insanity and heated rhetoric?

"Re-Generation 2008/2010:  Portraits of (Dis)Engagement" explores these questions in a collaboratively-created performance piece.  

The play, which runs Oct. 1-3 in the Schwartz Center’s Theater Lab, contrasts the different election periods of 2008 and 2012.

The cast of 10 professional and student actors wrote the script, under the guidance of director Ken Hornbeck. Hornbeck is director of the Emory Issues Troupe, a program out of the Office of Multicultural Programs and Services that uses theater as a tool to explore the issues that affect college students.

Using elements of the 2010 production of "Re-Generation" (also directed by Hornbeck), the actors also created new voices and characters to reflect the 2012 views. About half the lines derive directly from anthropological research with young adults, conducted by Debra Vidali, associate professor of anthropology at Emory.

The concept of giving voice to the complex constellation of young peoples’ stances of engagement and disengagement is part of Vidali’s ongoing research and public scholarship. Theatrical work allows her to share her research with wider audiences, she says.  

"Theater is a very powerful form for conveying anthropological insights about the human condition. Anthropologists are storytellers and documentarians, so verbatim theater is one more way of doing anthropology," says Vidali.  

"Re-Generation 2008/2010: Portraits of (Dis)Engagement" runs Oct. 1 at 8 p.m.; Oct. 2 at 8 p.m.; and Oct. 3 at 6:30 p.m. in the Schwartz Center’s Theater Lab. It is cosponsored by Emory College Center for Creativity & Arts with support from Theater Emory and the Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry.  

"Re-Generation" also expands to other campuses this fall: University of California-Los Angeles, University of Malmö-Sweden and Kennesaw State University. Details can be found on the Re-Generation Facebook page.