The day after the earthquake in Haiti, Max v. Duerckheim, a playback practitioner, wrote me and asked, "What are we going to do?"
Many of us have been touched by the sight of so many devastated people in Port au Prince. They need survival support most of all. We know that they will also need a chance to tell their stories. In fact, Ophelia Dahl, president of the Haitian NGO Partners in Health, is already talking publicly about the need for psychological and emotional support for Haitians. This makes sense. One's identity is shattered in trauma, and telling the story can be a key step towards recovery.
The purpose of this email is to see who is interested in supporting a playback project in Haiti. We have not yet worked out details, but the basic concept goes like this: we will begin networking at once to identify a local partner in Haiti. In a few months time we will send ateacher to Haiti to begin to train local actors. A couple of months after that we will send a performing team for a week to ten days. This team will have a two-fold mission: a.) to give any citizen a chance to tell their story, and b.) to pass on as much knowledge as we can to the new actors. Following this tour, we will maintain contact with the local group and support them as necessary with teachers and scholarships for training at the School.
This is what we need:
Networkers. Do you know anyone in Haiti? Do you have Haitian connections? We are particularly interested in connecting with a Haitian organization who can help us organize or work there.
Teachers.Do you speak French? Could you spend a week or two teaching playback in Haiti? Sustainability is a key goal of any project we would organize. We want to make sure that at the end of the day there is a permanent playback theatre group in Haiti available to act out the stories of their people.
Performers. Would you be interested in performing in Haiti? We are especially looking for Haitian Creole or French speaking actors and people of color (any trained pt actor can do the job, but when audience members see a face that looks like theirs and hear a language close that sounds like theirs, they trust quicker.)
Organizers. A project like this takes tremendous behind the scenes effort. Would you be interested in helping to coordinate networking, training, and fund raising?
Money. No intervention will be possible without the support of the whole playback community, joining together to provide the means to send teachers and a performing team to Haiti. Are you willing to make a financial contribution?
Can playback help in Haiti? We know it can. We have skills that can provide a support no less vital than food and water. Let us know what you can do. Respond now indicating how you can help. We will let you know about next steps.