Thursday, April 10, 2008

Comparative Conflict Resolution and the Arts

More info on the Promises Project. Another trailer worth watching: Encounter Point.

What is the role of arts educators in healing and in social healing? Throughout both films, we pick up on shared words like grief, horror, anger, heroes, pain, cycles, enemies, trust, peace, fear, strangeness, and questions: Why not talk? Is there and can there be a better future?

The common words remind us that through two very different worlds and perspectives there is a shared human story. Applied Theatre can explore the places where these shared human stories and narratives intersect and where they differ. As one child says: "Peace between you and me is impossible unless we get to know one another." Yet, our actions continue to be driven by fear and the complications of risk. When one parent is hesitant of letting his son cross the checkpoint, another responds, "Our needs are our fears."

Applied Theatre exercises may help us unpick our fears, share narratives, and open up new possibilities that challenge the status quo.

Simnia Singer-Sayada, an Education Associate at the Culture Project, describes one Theatre of the Oppressed technique that is often used to explore connections:

One such technique, the “Columbian Hypnosis”, creates an opportunity to explore he effect our actions have on one other. In a group, a leader is selected who moves to the middle of the room. Gradually, the rest of the class joins in, one by one holding onto someone within the group by the head, arm, knee, nose, etc.... When everyone is joined to someone else, the leader begins to walk through the room, and the subtle repercussions of her/his actions ripples through the group, each member being moved and therefore moving those around them. The power of literally seeing and feeling the repercussions of subtle actions can lead to huge personal discoveries.

Though they are seemingly simple activities--interactive experiences and games like the one above can uncover safe spaces for conversations.

Here's another piece that focuses on music therapy and Palestinian children of the West Bank.

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