Scripts and Action Ideas To Start Your Own Church!
The following entries are your DIRECT ACTION WORKBOOK!
As your new church Stops the Shopping of your citizenry, as you become a Sacred Spy of the Shopocalypse, it is worth asking yourself a few questions.
Who's your Devil? Whether it's a big box or chain store, or a nuke plant on a fault-line: This is your "charged stage." The consumers are the souls that must be saved. (But never forget: WE ARE ALL SINNERS.) When the consumer-persons come into view, browsing or walking up the street, they will see your church performing inside, or Oddly near, the Devil's logo. This is your chosen Devil, and we must not be naive about how powerful the multi-nationals are in the ordinary matter of BUY THIS. The consumers, upon seeing the imagery of the product or corporation -- immediately have memories, fantasies, anticipations. This is Product Sex, and it is sinning of a very well-defending kind. It is our job to know what the existing props (the logo, the celebrity spokesperson, the corporate history, recent news items) are doing to the openness of that witness. What are they thinking, how pre-seduced are they -- and could they be open to asking a new question or two about the product before them?
Big Boxes and BoutiquesWe perform in any public setting where our singing and preaching carries -- piers and docks, church rooftops, parks and boulevards. But as far as "contested" space is concerned - the private or privatized spaces which imitate public space and then eject our constitutional freedoms (and force us to buy things) -- there are two types, the big box and the chain store. These two kinds of stores have their contrasting seductions: the fluorescing behemoth and the more human scale store that often tries to blend in with the neighborhood, sometimes even imitating the local independent shops that they killed.
Retail Interventions in both these environments can be intimate, such as confidentially spoken facts about labor slavery, the history of the company, the CEO's stock options. When a symbolic pageantry or public drama is staged for visual effect -- then the two stages are very different. Big Box stores throw everything into the middle distance quickly. Everyone is in a car or behind a cart. In the boutiques, our church activists can sometimes withdraw to the sidewalk or street outside and continue to perform, with customers following us out.
In this second "boutique" category -- let's discuss Victoria's Secret and Starbucks. They have managed to de-politicize the public's responses. They have managed to remain separate from the phrase "chain store." Victoria's Secret is still not associated in the public mind with clear-cutting virgin forests. (Their million catalogues a day are mostly made of virgin timber.) Starbucks still insists it has nothing to do with employing 7 year olds. (Starbucks routinely lies about the condition of its coffee worker families.) Both companies have more exposure from their famous ads than from the damning research that watchdog groups post on websites. So with these smaller venues direct education becomes more important. Whatever shocking bit of theatre catches our audience's interest, we still must prove our case in a more traditional way with clear and clean information sheets.
This is where a long retreat from a supermall can be an advantage. Once you give a shopper a sheet, security cannot intercede - they don't pull the paper from the customer's hands. So if we are escorted to the door and start walking across the parking lot, we might hand out information to a hundred people walking in from their cars. (It is fascinating to have later email conversations with people you encounter in the malls, and it helps spread the word. Always make it easy for the shoppers to contact you.)
Where To BeginYou need to case the joint thoroughly. In the days before your action, as you walk through the target store, slow yourself down and â€¦ slow the products down, too. See through them. Watch how the branding works. A Nike store is covered with the flying sweating limbs of the famous. A McDonalds is so bright the air has an ice-like quality, but smells like fries. A Starbucks is dedicated to uniformity but with items that suggest originality, such as mis-matching beatnik-like furniture.
These Evil non-places each dare us to answer with the perfect violation, the introduction of an internal opposition that explodes the picture. We hope that you find an Action wonderfully suited to cave in the propaganda of your Devil store. We hope these sketches of Actions free your own imagination in these imagination-killing settings.
From the Mouths of Babes to the Blog of the ChurchAt many art attacks, there are three witnesses: the People, the press, and the police. The latter two are media -- they send the message out by way of their theater and so they are important. And you should know who will be there and what to do if a badge or microphones are suddenly thrust in your face.
But the first witness is the People. They are often there shopping and we are hoping to interrupt them in an entertaining way. We want to help them create a folk story from their experience. It is always a pleasure to hear them describe weeks after an Action "I saw this terrible marriage spat. It is in the middle of the mall. The wife was describing a sweatshop factory and the husband was on his knees. He was absolutely wretched. He was begging her not to leave him because he bought a Tickle Me Elmo that was made in Sri Lanka I mean, he was grovelingâ€¦ it was incredible!" Don't be fooled that this resembles light comedy. This is the heart of the matter. This is NEW. To us this is the birthing of new language, our update of the reaction to the World War a century ago.
The key to change is found in the talk of interrupted shoppers. Try to hear what they say on the grapevine, on blogs, find out what they are doing with their impressions. Post it all on your website, send it all to ours! Revbilly.com! OH PRAISE! WHEN THE SHOPPING STOPS!
Role PlayersEvery Art Attack should have an Action Manager (AM). Most of the 16 actions below have steps in them and the manager can signal when to stand up and sing, to go to the climax of the piece, or to suddenly go mute if the police happen by. Oftentimes the AM stands near the front door or window, in an attempt both to see the farthest into the store and out in the surrounding cityscape.
It helps to also have a Physical Educator. Someone who can really lead warm ups in the church basement, a church members' yard, or a public park. Breaking through the strict choreography of products and retail environments takes body-and-soul readiness. When you Disturb The Customers, you are doing hard work. Usually we're basking in the pleasurable release of it for hours afterward, but we're sore the next morning. Breathing and stretching beforehand helps.
Arrange for your Fair Witness. You'll want to get a later critique from someone not involved in the Action itself, someone who sits on the very edge of the whole play sees all the elements. This person is not holding a spy cam, or watching for police. This person's only job is to see it all.
And always be polite to the workers and customers. Most of these Actions are comedies with a social conscience. But comedy is very close to anger, and excites all kinds of stuff in on-lookersâ€¦ know that border. Don't be angry at anyone who is angry with you. They may be dealing with the breaking apart of product-life, a fundamentalist faith, oppressive but sometimes hard to leave behind.
Stay soft, cunning, loving.