Introduction to the Third Edition-The Performing Arts as Educator and Healer


This 3rd Edition of Words and Violence is, I think, our best work yet. We have invited some new contributors who work in the performing arts. The performing arts used as tools of communication and change by gifted artists, can have a staggering impact on lives. The arts and artists change the world.

From the Stage, to Theater to Film to Television… performing arts have historically served more as entertainment than education. That is changing. Art as a vehicle for informing, raising consciousness and brokering a new and improved world has opened minds and opened new vistas. When images are added to accompany words, the power of the work is amplified.

Live performances are powerful as the audience becomes part of the interchange to a new awareness. Dance uses another language to convey a message—the body becomes the palette or the original score or the script that tells story. Film combined with social media has real power. And like anything else that comes along and re-writes the “script” that is current reality and the world, there are advantages and dangers. The dangers and advantages are exponential because of the scope of the audience that may now be reached through these mediums. The opportunities are equally exponential.

The scope of impact and audience now available to artists makes it implicit that careful examination of the message, its impact and potential outcomes be responsibly considered in the making of performance arts and its impact on the audience. The implied responsibility begs the questions: Is this feature death dealing or life affirming? In other words, does it expand and contribute to dignity and humanity or does it contract and devalue humankind? Does it make the world better or bitter? Does it evoke and invoke human brilliance or foster human darkness? Human life and its conscious evolution hangs in the balance.

We all know the dangers and the impact of bullying. We have seen its effects and many of us have been touched by the losses it brings. Entire libraries have been written about bullying but bullying has not stopped and children are still hurting. Suicide is the number one cause of death among teenagers. We have done a good job of demonstrating how bullying harms. Libraries have been written primarily for educators and clergy and civic leaders trying their best to stem the tide of bully violence. But kids are still dying. What now? 

Perhaps we need to look at the root causes of bullying and the cures. In this third edition of “Words and Violence” we invite the performing arts and artists to the inner sanctum to take on power, bullying and change as they perform the way to solutions.

~ Barbara Kaufmann, Founder Words and Violence