Szemessy, Kinga: Community immunity – participatory performance as vaccination: Art mediation practices based on methodological anxiety in order to practice surviving the encounter with the scary and the strange

‘Fear and risk – …the fine nervousness so pleasant when something is about to occur’ (Allan Kaprow)

In general, it is not the marginalised, but rather the privileged who visits those theatre institutions that I am familiar and affiliated with. They are those who decide upon public policies or at least can reach and influence the actual decision-makers. Because most likely they spend their days in safe spaces, in the theatre they might encounter with danger in order to learn to tolerate the scary and the strange.

Community and socially engaged theatre practitioners tend to be kind philanthropists. But philanthropy is the exercise of power, thus in a democratic society it deserves not solely gratitude, but scrutiny as well. Who helps whom and by what consequences? Giving money or a hug is a symptomatic treatment; it won’t eliminate a larger social problem. Yet, embodying inconvenience or loathing could lead to awareness of the social choreographies we all unconsciously realise. Thus, we should switch from walking on the line to walk on the wild side. I call anxiety into play because it is necessary for development and agency to take place. ‘[A]nxiety (…) shows two things. On the one hand, it serves as a shock, a way of viscerally calling in to question the familiar norms into which we have been educated and within which we have lived unquestioningly. (…) On the other hand, anxiety reveals some quite specific kind of disconnection between the subject and the norms and goals which structure its world: it shows that none of these are necessarily or essentially binding on us.’ (Sacha Golob: ‘Methodological Anxiety’ in Alix Cohen & Robert Stern: Thinking about the Emotions: A Philosophical History, Oxford University Press, 2017, 260.)