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Deavere Smith/Cliff Readings

Chandrea's picture

When I first started reading the Deavere Smith text, I had to double check to make sure I was reading the right thing. I think I was so hung up on the fact that it's an article pertaining to theater and performances... and I checked out momentarily.  What really caught my attention was her observation about the difficulty she had in memorizing a passage: "I had not controlled the words. I had presented myself as an empty vessel, a repeater, and they had shown their power" (XXV). I immediately thought of Paulo Freire and the concept of "banking education" and got really excited that I could tie in something from this course to a previous Education course I had taken! In our Critical Issues class and E-Sem, while I struggled to understand and come to terms with the fact that my all-knowing teachers may have viewed me as an empty vessel waiting to be filled with knowledge, I never dwelled on the idea that I could use my voice to improve my learning experiences as a student. I thought maybe making class a little more interactive could do the trick but I never thought of explicitly using my voice to create change. I can't just expect for my teachers to change things on their own - I have to use my voice to make change because as Deavere Smith's Shakespeare teacher said, speech is an action. Using my voice would be an example of me having the agency to change the way I'm being taught. It seems painfully obvious now that I think of it.

For the Cliff reading, what interested me most was her explanation of how she writes as a "complete Carribean woman" and that this demands that she explore the African part of herself (33). While I understood and agreed with her approach to further exploration of her family's past, I still found it a little problematic. I think my identity as a Cambodian female and first generation American/college student and former ESL student is a complicated one that I still very much struggle with to this day. Maybe I'm too lazy to do this exploring but I do agree with this idea that this knowledge will always be "wanting". And who exactly are my oppressors? Is there an obvious answer I'm not seeing?