Activism

Benjamin Turk talks about didactic theater, state violence and the danger of "good cops"

Anarchist playwright Benjamin Turk sees theater as more than entertainment. He believes plays can spark dialogue, transform community and attack systems of violence: capitalism, the police and prisons. Steeped in the work of Bertolt Brecht and Augusto Boal, who both resisted the idea that stories should help audiences connect with a main character and experience an overwhelming and resolved emotional turmoil (Aristotle called this "catharsis" and viewed it as the goal of a successful tragedy), Turk creates plays that challenge audiences to ask and answer pressing political questions, interrupting the dramatic flow for participatory conversations about police, gentrification, race and beyond. In advance of the July 18 performance of Behind the Badge, a play Turk has been touring across the United States, we spoke with him about his work, violence and the danger of "good cops."

See also: James Walsh on the Romero Troupe and Unbound, the doc premiering tomorrow

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Kyle Harris has been Westword’s Culture Editor since 2016, writing about the arts, music and film.
Contact: Kyle Harris