The curtain opens to reveal a classroom full of students talking with each other.
– I’d like to go to the birthday party.
– What birthday party?
– Mircea’s birthday, your classmate.
– Oh, I didn’t know he was celebrating. And…. are you going?
– No, only they are going.
– As always – eating by ourselves and playing as well by ourselves.
– But I’d like to go to the birthday party.
The curtain falls and the performance remains unfinished because the pupils on stage were ignored, discriminated against and left alone by their classmates. They’d like to change something. And this thing is possible.
“The theatre is not a lie. It’s just another reality,” said an acting teacher to his students. After years, having the opportunity to take part in a social theatre workshop and in about 20 performances, I have come to realize that we can change our reality into the one being performed on stage.
This was also realized by those 10 volunteers that participated in a creative Theatre Forum workshop concerning the discrimination of disabled people. The workshop was organized by Keystone Moldova , in partnership with the Community Center for children and young people with physical disabilities.
During the three days, while the workshop was performed, the participants laughed, cried, spoke about social problems and the possibilities of solutions, and the absurdity of love and hate was revealed. Theatre focuses on relationships, and volunteers learned to interact with their environment, surrounding objects, other actors, and the audience. After that, they created different roles and found those feelings that they didn’t know they had.
As a result of this training, an exceptional group of young people who know what social theatre means and how to use it was created in order to change the discriminatory attitude in schools.
Social theatre is a tool for social change , that involves the active participation of the audience. Social theatre includes certain categories of characters that the audience should recognize – aggressors, victims, observers and allies. The most important character is the JOKER, who is something like a “master of ceremonies.” The Joker creates the relationship between the actors and the spectators. The Joker prepares the audience and speaks about the performance and then he gathers the solutions suggested by the audience that subsequently are played on the stage. In this way, the spectator becomes an actor who chooses a character and plays his role trying to solve the problem from the stage.
When a spectator is invited to participate in the performance, they begin to resist the discrimination and to protect persons with disabilities. Through active participation in social theatre, spectators understand how hurtful and damaging discrimination is and how difficult it is to change that attitude. On stage for all to see, the spectator makes the decision to no longer discriminate against others and to accept people as they are. They often come to this conclusion without even realizing it, and this decision belongs to them in full. The performance has been already played in 15 inclusive pilot-schools in the Republic of Moldova. According to teachers’ opinions from those schools, the children’s attitude towards their disabled classmates has considerably changed. Now the performance will be played in other 7 schools.
Social Theatre is an activity performed by Keystone Moldova with the financial support of Soros Foundation-Moldova and the Open Society/Mental Health Initiative.