Guest post by Lina Malcoci, communication officer, KHSIMA
The scene is set for conflict and exclusion in a school classroom. The characters – an aggressive teacher, a student with behavioral challenges, a concerned parent, two children who use wheelchairs and a few classmates with discriminatory attitudes – take their places on the stage.
The show begins. As I watched the scene unfold, I realized that what was happening on stage has been acted out in real life many times. The teacher reminded me of my physics teacher when I was in school. The boy in the wheelchair looked like a boy I used to see in the neighboring district. And the classmates… Has anyone ever had a perfect relationship with all of their classmates?
As a spectator, it seems easier to come up with solutions to the problems being enacted on stage. In this particular drama, the spectators are encouraged to get up on stage and take part in finding solutions.
This type of play is called a Social Drama, and it is a creative way to bring social problems to the stage and invite the audience to enter the scene, find a solution, and change the course of action. The use of Social Drama can be a powerful source of learning and attitudinal change, and is being used to help communities think about how to fully welcome and include everyone, including people with disabilities, into everyday life.
Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a training in Social Drama with eleven other young people. Delivered by Oxana Buzovici, the training took us out of the world of rules. We entered a world of memories and dreams, sharing our feelings and experiences. It made us more flexible and more open to connections. We looked into the corners of our minds to discover the social stereotypes and beliefs that we hold that may never have been examined and challenged.
The most beautiful moment in this training was when we found a new world in others, with resources and talents they never suspected they had. The art of discovery, the return to wonder and the fact that there is always a solution are the most beautiful things I learned from this training.
One of the outcomes of our training was to develop a theater performance in Social Drama, with the intent of changing the attitude of students toward their classmates with intellectual and physical disabilities. Following their involvement with the Social Drama, it is our hope that children will recognize their own stereotypes and assumptions about what it means to have a disability, and get directly involved in finding a solution.
We will perform this play in fifteen schools in the country where school inclusion is being implemented and equal access to education is required for all children. These theatrical performances will take place specifically to support and promote the inclusion of all children in school.
In Moldova, the practice of Social Drama is being applied for the first time with the aim of improving the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. It is part of the Fight Against Discrimination of People with Intellectual Disabilities, with common efforts of the Joint Media Strategy Group project. The project is being implemented by Keystone Human Services International Moldova Association through the Community for All-Moldova Program, with support by the Equality and Civic Engagement Program of the Soros Foundation-Moldova and the Open Society Foundations Health Media Initiative.