Located in the city of São Paulo, capital of the state, SP Escola de Teatro – Centro de Fomação das Artes do Palco [SP Drama School – Development Center for Stage Arts] proposes new challenges for theater education in Brazil and acknowledges educator and educand (or "teacher and student" in a traditional pedagogical structure) from the point of view of their sensitivity and artistic, human, critical and social potential.
The project is based on three foundations – Regular Courses, Cultural Awareness Courses and the Kairos Program –, which underpin the systemic functioning of the Institution's departments allowing different artistic and educational activities to take place.
Three foundations but one heart: the art of theater that irrigates rigorous qualification and expands horizons in the means of creation, production and reception in the contemporary world.
Among the proposals articulated by the School, the following stand out:
- in the management aspect, the new initiative of the Government of the State of São Paulo, which subsides and gives autonomy to the ideas and actions of artists from outstanding theater companies and from prestigious venues of São Paulo; a promising environment in which artists nurture artists.
- in the social aspect, an interface with public school students who receive financial aid to become professionals in theater arts, which is an action that democratizes access to the theatrical realm for different social classes; a drama school for all.
- in the educational system, the educator perceives the educand as a companion in the journey throughout the kingdom of knowledge; they travel together along a two-way road constantly searching for human and artistic excellence; a cultural terrain bound for the so-called "know-how-to-do" and "know-how-to-be".
SP Escola de Teatro is a bold initiative that has been thought of since 2005 and most practically conceived since the second half of 2009. The ideas on how to organize the School started taking shape during regular meetings of various artists from theater companies and venues from a particular area of downtown São Paulo: Franklin Roosevelt Square. The square has become a reference point and center of theatrical events in São Paulo since it was revitalized in the mid-2000.
That square from now on will trigger a movement towards the education for stage arts and it has to do with the effort from the theater industry of occupying public spaces along the first decade of this XXI century.
Theater companies and groups have drawn a new geography for that area of the city. Since 2000 they have occupied venues and have made alliances with some residents and businesses. Those actions have contributed decisively to transform the interpersonal relations in an area strained by urban violence until then. There are currently at least six theaters, a bookshop and a few bars attuned to the local cultural scene.
Some of the artists who share that spirit decided to commit themselves to run the SP Escola de Teatro. During 2010, through the whole school year it will temporarily operate in an old school building located in another neighborhood of central São Paulo but the permanent location will be a building at Roosevelt Square.
The State and artists have been driven mainly by the following realizations:
- the increase of theater productions and the increase of theater venues in the country – with emphasis in the state of São Paulo – which created unfulfilled demands for skilled professionals;
- the need for initiatives to democratize the population's access to artistic education.
Under approval of the Government of the State of São Paulo a group of artists have taken the challenge of creating and administrating a Drama School. They currently have at their disposal a favorable and unique infrastructure that allows a long-term pedagogical practice.
The motto is simple and straightforward: artists who nurture artists. The most relevant issue is to recognize the role of an artist in society.
Integrated education is the foundation of SP Escola de Teatro. The motivations that lead to that concept are the restless attitude of artists in their craft. It is grounded on an exciting mixture of concepts from some of the major contemporary visionaries who research the constitution of thought and culture, including:
- the pedagogy of autonomy suggested by the Brazilian educator Paulo Freire according to which "the one who teaches learns through teaching and the one who learns teaches through learning". Such concept is tuned with the dialectical view of its educational propositions;
- the concept of territory and space developed by the Brazilian geographer Milton Santos – one of the most active voices in pointing out the constrictions of the so-called globalization – which understands a space, whether public or private, as the "space of cooperative events", unlike the financial logic of the present days;
- a systemic view of the cognitive process, an interpretation embraced from the Austrian physicist and environmentalist Fritjof Capra. His approach is to absorb the whole organism taking into account the input that keeps that organism alive.
Related to culture and stage arts those vectors create ambiguity. They help to sense a place as a lively occupied space and endowed with many other layers.
The understanding of the artist and human being in a broad context is the base of the pedagogical system and sets a dynamic that acknowledges educator and educand as responsible for the process of teaching and learning. Their skills, autobiographies and visions of the world interact allowing a fluent and diverse education. The main focus is the exchange of theoretical, deontological, formal and emotional knowledge of personal and collective events of the individuals' lives.
SP Escola de Teatro sees the social role of stage arts in Modules that value creative autonomy, critical thinking and total convergence of talent and poetry. The School neither emphasizes a hierarchical relationship nor sees temporal cumulative disadvantage, which are concepts that usually weaken the basis of educational dynamics.
The main assumptions of the pedagogical project:
SP Escola de Teatro avoids the disciplinary model of organization based on an order of importance among the elements of a certain structure. It is far from the system of subordination inherited from traditional pedagogies. The symbiosis of educator and educand, however, never neutralizes their specific roles in this vital relationship.
The idea of non-hierarchical learning refers specifically to the program contents and not to the relationship between educator and educand. Knowledge advances in the range of practical and reflective work, together with the pace both educands and educators encourage a critical approach and mutual respect.
The School believes that knowledge should not be encouraged throughout mechanisms of accumulation but of expansion therefore allowing natural spread of layers in the creation of Art. It rejects the concentrated determinism of the capitalist way of understanding learning.
Like most things in society nowadays, the possibility of knowledge is usually related to the presumed valuation by social class, age, titles, and market trends. Compartmentalized artistic knowledge is an unproductive contradiction. The nature of art is expansive.
If a course is thought according to levels, for instance, a educand in the fourth level is more advanced than one in the first level. SP Escola de Teatro breaks those boundaries. It prefers to stimulate the exchange of differences and non-linear actions.
A Module corresponds to the unit content and activities of that semester.
The educand from SP Escola de Teatro attends four independent Modules. Each of them last 20 to 21 weeks in one of the Regular Courses offered. Each Module, one per semester, is identified by a color: Green, Yellow, Blue and Red.
As a consequence of the pedagogical assumptions of SP Escola de Teatro, we emphasize the following:
educand’s possibility of initiating his/her studies in any of modules offered at the time
if learning is not thought of in terms of hierarchy it can be experienced in non-chronological structured ways. For example, the educand can start his/her studies at the School in any Module without the need to have some prior knowledge to attend it;
the non-existence of fixed classes during a time period
the educand comes into the Modules at different times and therefore doesn't belong to only one group of educands who are taking the four Modules with him/her. In each Module the educand will relate to different groups;
the blend of educand's individual experiences
by denying the idea of accumulation, the School assumes that a Module can have educands from different backgrounds. For example, as the terms progress, educands who just came into the School can coexist with colleagues who are finishing the course;
full occupancy of vacancies
one of the consequences of thinking art education in a grade system is that new educands cannot come in when others leave in the middle of the process, as they don't have the prior and necessary information. In SP Escola de Teatro, any vacancy that comes up from an educand leaving is immediately filled in the subsequent Module.
The belief is that everyone is on equal terms for the exchange of experiences. This procedure avoids one of the most serious educational problems in Brazil, noticeable on higher education courses of performing arts: unfilled vacancies.