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Body Language Debate?

There’s quite some distance between the violence of the ancient Italian sport of Calcio Storico and the interactive “debate without words” that happens when Shaun Leonardo leads a session of his social practice project, Primitive Games. But Leonardo, who will bring his art to the campus of Transylvania University on February 27, was inspired by the 16th century form of football-meets-rugby that got its start in the Piazza Santa Croce in Florence. 

“While I was taking this in and really studying it as a sport that enacts violence for the sake of violence, that has very few rules, I was also glued to television and witnessing what I experienced as the demise of political debate. The ways in which we once understood debates was evolving into simply a strategy of proving one’s side right over another,” Leonardo explained in an interview to be featured on this week’s edition of Eastern Standard on WEKU. Here’s a sampling:

Embed for Tom Martin with Shaun Leonardo

Through his project, Leonardo asks, “Are we, through non-verbal action, able to model and momentarily restore purpose to the act of debate, by seeing difference not as a hindering factor but as a necessary component to reaching consensus and enacting change?” 

Volunteers have been selected to participate in Leonardo’s Lexington workshop, including students, faculty, staff and Transy campus police chief Gregg Muravchick. Part of the university’s Creative Intelligence Series, his lecture will take place in Carrick Theater on campus at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 27.

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Tom Martin is a co-publisher of UnderMain, producer and host of Eastern Standard on Eastern Kentucky University public radio station WEKU, a columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader, and Student Media Advisor at Transylvania University.