Theatre & Peacebuilding 

 

The Acting Together On the World Stage Project

 

Our multi-year partnership with Brandeis University’s Peacebuilding and the Arts Program created the Acting Together on the World Stage project and transformed our understanding of the role that artists can and do play in contexts of violence. 

The Acting Together Project began in 2005 as a partnership between Theatre Without Borders and Brandeis University.  The Acting Together Project was co-initiated in 2005 with Dr. Cynthia Cohen, who was then working with Coexistence International, one of the Coexistence and Conflict Programs of the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. The 7-year affiliation, begun under the auspices the Alan B. Slifka Program in Intercommunal Coexistence, has involved scholars and practitioners working in fifteen conflict regions, collaborating on two anthologies, a documentary, and a toolkit, while building a learning community and strengthening networks. The project is lead by Dr. Cynthia Cohen in the Peacebuilding and the Arts Program of the International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life at Brandeis University. The award-winning Acting Together on the World Stage:Performance and the Creative Transformation of Conflict documentary film is now available with subtitles in Japanese, Arabic, Hebrew, Sinhala, Spanish, and Tamil. ReCAST, Inc. distributes this material through its Multilingual Global Campaign.

The Acting Together On the World Stage Project work invited TWB network artists to participate in curriculum development and training sessions organized by Brandeis University’s Peacebuilding and the Arts Program. The purpose of this affiliation was to broaden the conversation and to deepen the inquiry exploring the intersections of theatre and peace building. TWB and CI worked together on the creation of an anthology documenting this intersection, a series of gatherings both nationally and internationally, and an intensive exploration of related topics with a core study group. On May 23, 2005 a small group of individuals had an exploratory meeting, called Theatre and Peace Dialogue (I), to discuss further initiatives for those especially interested in using theatre in contexts of building peace. The next scheduled Theatre and Peace Dialogue (II) took place at the California Institute of the Arts as part of the CalArts interterm events during a four-day symposium exploring the relationship between theatre and genocide in ARTS IN THE ONE WORLD: A CONSIDERATION OF GENOCIDE, the dates were January 26 – 29, 2006. Brandeis and CI next invited study group members to present case studies at the IPRA (International Peace Research Association) Conference in Calgary, Canada, June 29 – July 3, 2006.

September 23-26, 2010 in New York City, Theatre Without Borders, hosted by La MaMa ETC and in affiliation with Brandeis University, presented the ACTING TOGETHER ON THE WORLD STAGE: A CONFERENCE ON THEATRE AND PEACE BUILDING IN CONFLICT ZONES. This conference brought together theatre and performance practitioners from around the world to share their experiences with artists, activists, educators, policy makers, and the general public. Artists arrived from and/or represented: Argentina, Belarus, Burma, Cambodia, Colombia, Cyprus, England, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Kenya, Korea, Pakistan, Palestine, Peru, Romania, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Uganda, United States, Zimbabwe, and many other countries.

In 2011, documentation of the six-year collaboration was released through a two-volume anthology Acting Together: Performance and the Creative Transformation of Conflict volumes I and II and a documentary Acting Together on the World Stage. Learn more at www.atwsresources.com and www.brandeis.edu/ethics/peacebuildingarts/

Today, the Acting Together Project involves scholars and practitioners working in over fifteen conflict regions. Documentation of this work is available in an anthology, a documentary, and a web site.

Building a learning community and strengthening networks within this emerging field, The Acting Together Project is yielding rich case studies, theoretical frameworks, and recommendations to policymakers to legitimate and strengthen the emerging field of peacebuilding performance. It is already beginning to catalyze conversations and mobilize action to advance this important work, including through the development of university training program curriculum.

If you would like to learn more about the Acting Together Project, please go to the Acting Together website or the website of Brandeis University’s Peacebuilding and the Arts Program. If you would like to receive the Peacebuilding and the Arts Now newsletter, please sign up on its website or email coexistence@brandeis.edu.

 

Theatre & Peacebuilding Resources

 
  • Drama Notebook In 2015, the author of Drama Notebook, the world’s largest collection of drama lesson plans, games, scripts and activities, extended an offer of free memberships to Theatre Without Borders subscribers who are using theatre to affect change in the world. The website is particularly useful for those creating devised work. You can contact the author directly for further information at https://www.dramanotebook.com/contact/
  • University of San Francisco, California: Performing Arts and Social Justice
  • Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, Virginia: Center for Justice and Peace Building
  • Rhode Island College, Providence, Rhode Island: Theatre Performance and Society
  • Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts: Peacebuilding and the Arts Program
  • Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut: Genocide Studies Program
  • New York University, Art and Public Policy
  • University for Peace Headquartered in Costa Rica, the United Nations-mandated University for Peace (UPEACE) was established in December 1980 as a Treaty Organization by the UN General Assembly. As determined in the Charter of the University and endorsed by the UPEACE Council, the mission of the University for Peace is: “to provide humanity with an international institution of higher education for peace with the aim of promoting among all human beings the spirit of understanding, tolerance and peaceful coexistence, to stimulate cooperation among peoples and to help lessen obstacles and threats to world peace and progress, in keeping with the noble aspirations proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations.” At present, the UPEACE Costa Rica Campus has 124 students from 37 different countries, making it one of the most diverse universities in the world for its size. UPEACE is the only institution in the UN family authorized to grant degrees at the Master’s and Doctoral levels. The language of instruction is English.
  • The Interdisciplinary Genocide Studies Center (IGSC) – Rwanda is a nonprofit organization based in Kigali, Rwanda.IGSC’s mission is to testify, to study genocide through rigorous cross-disciplinary scholarship, and to understand various mechanisms and structures of violence, with the goal of preventing genocide and mass violence. Jean-Pierre Karegeye (Director of Interdisciplinary Genocide Studies, University of California at Berkeley) and Erik Ehn (Dean of the School of Theater, California Institute of the Arts) first met in Kigali three years ago. They resolved to create a space for the study of the Rwandan Genocide. The initiative has involved theater artists, filmmakers, human rights activists, politicians, survivors, religious practicioners, researchers, students and scholars from various disciplines and countries, whose practice engages questions of testimony, reconciliation, peace building, human rights and dignity.

 

PEACE BUILDING ORGANIZATIONS

Arts for Peace Foundation, Ireland The Arts For Peace Foundation’s central mission is to develop a residential facility, which provides practical programmatic excellence in education, therapy and recreation for children in Ireland and abroad with a goal of development of peaceful co-existence. Using shared interests through common creative and co-operative experiences, programmes to develop tolerance, healing, mutual understanding, trust and friendship are created and a worldwide network of peace advocates is created.

Centre for Playback Theatre The purpose of Playback Theatre is to encourage and foster individual human rights and community dialogue through personal improvisational theatre by facilitating the narration of diverse opinions, recollections and stories; listening; empathy; vitality; and hope.  Playback Theatre is based in New Paltz, New York, USA, but operates throughout the world. 

everyday ghandis
The purpose of the everyday gandhis project is to tell the stories of ordinary people creating peace in their communities, particularly in ‘hot spots’ around the world, utilizing media of all types (visual, written, spoken).

Global Exchange

Global Exchange is an international human rights organization dedicated to promoting environmental, political and social justice. Since our founding in 1988, we have increased the US public’s global awareness while building international partnerships for peace and democracy.

The Interdisciplinary Genocide Studies Center (IGSC) – Rwanda is a nonprofit organization based in Kigali, Rwanda.
IGSC’s mission is to testify, to study genocide through rigorous cross-disciplinary scholarship, and to understand various mechanisms and structures of violence, with the goal of preventing genocide and mass violence. Jean-Pierre Karegeye (Director of Interdisciplinary Genocide Studies, University of California at Berkeley) and Erik Ehn (Dean of the School of Theater, California Institute of the Arts) first met in Kigali three years ago. They resolved to create a space for the study of the Rwandan Genocide. The initiative has involved theater artists, filmmakers, human rights activists, politicians, survivors, religious practicioners, researchers, students and scholars from various disciplines and countries, whose practice engages questions of testimony, reconciliation, peace building, human rights and dignity.

PEN Center USA PEN USA is a non-profit membership organization made up of writers of every stripe working west of the Mississippi. Its members are connected by the goals of building interest in the written word and defending writers worldwide.

International PEN was founded in London in 1921 in the aftermath of World War I, in a period of hatred between nations. The founder, Catharine Amy Dawson Scott, was convinced that if the writers of the world could reach out to each other, then the nations of the world could eventually learn to do the same. She was joined by eminent writers of her day, including Joseph Conrad, George Bernard Shaw and John Galsworthy, PEN’s first president. The early founders of PEN realized that for any community of letters to thrive, the freedom of the individual writer must also be protected. Thus before Amnesty Internationalbegan, PEN was working for the release of writers around the world who were prisoners of conscience. Today, PEN is composed of 144 centers in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, the Middle East, and the Americas with a total membership of approximately 15,000.

Slifka Program in Intercommunal Coexsistence – Brandeis University
Managing intercommunal conflict and violence is critical to national and international security in today’s world. Societies are becoming more diverse, and many more countries are facing ethnic, religious, cultural, and social conflicts. The globalization of such conflicts is also increasing. There is a crucial need to bring greater professional expertise and creative leadership to bear upon the challenges posed by these conflicts. The Master’s Program in Coexistence and Conflict at Brandeis University is intended to meet these challenges.  The publication FOCUS ON COEXISTENCE AND THE ARTS offers useful ways to articulate this increasingly important relationship.

University for Peace Headquartered in Costa Rica, the United Nations-mandated University for Peace (UPEACE) was established in December 1980 as a Treaty Organization by the UN General Assembly. As determined in the Charter of the University and endorsed by the UPEACE Council, the mission of the University for Peace is: “to provide humanity with an international institution of higher education for peace with the aim of promoting among all human beings the spirit of understanding, tolerance and peaceful coexistence, to stimulate cooperation among peoples and to help lessen obstacles and threats to world peace and progress, in keeping with the noble aspirations proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations.” At present, the UPEACE Costa Rica Campus has 124 students from 37 different countries, making it one of the most diverse universities in the world for its size. UPEACE is the only institution in the UN family authorized to grant degrees at the Master’s and Doctoral levels. The language of instruction is English.

World Culture Forum Alliance
The World Culture Forum Alliance is devoted to the priority of cultures before trade and commerce in the age of globalization, to the acknowledgement of cultural rights and the peaceful encounter of cultures worldwide. WCFA strives to maintain and expand cultural diversity and memory as key factors of sustainable human development and survival in the forming of knowledge societies around the world.

TRAINING AND CURRICULUM

We see a building interest in the field towards theatre with a sense of social responsibility. While little curriculum for study is yet available, theatre training programs are developing in this area. Here are some of those programs.