The Acting Together project, a collaboration between the Peacebuilding and the Arts program atBrandeis University and Theatre Without Borders, honors World Theatre Day, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year on March 27. This occasion was created by the International Theatre Institute ofUNESCO, to highlight the contributions of theatre to a culture of peace.
In zones of violent conflict, and often at great personal risk, theatre artists create and share works of great beauty that aim toward more just communities and a less violent world. We would like to celebrate their contributions by sharing the words of Dr. Salomon Lerner Febres, the former president of Peru’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, who enlisted artists’ vigorous participation in his country’s transitional justice process. At the December 2011 “Just Performance” Brandeis symposium, Dr. Lerner highlighted the power of art, even in the face of violence that appears irredeemable and immutable. “Violence,” he said,
“attacks meaning by breaking down the bonds between people and dehumanizing them. For this reason, the violent act is unintelligible. It defies understanding because it goes against our natural inclination to recognize the dignity in our fellow human beings. Nonetheless (and sadly), it continues to be a human act. Indeed, only we human beings are capable of creating, through meticulous and perverse methods, such complex, now direct, now so subtle, mechanisms for provoking suffering in fellow members of our species….
….Real theater is the exposure of truth through the potent act of exhibiting the symbols that give shape to experience. This occurs through repetition and, therein, ritual. It is the persistence in this ritual, the willed return in the name of rediscovering and reconstituting our human bond, that bestows upon it its great dignity, and empowers it to recover some of the meaning lost in the maelstrom of events.
….Art restores meaning in bringing us, as responsible human beings, face to face with the undeniable facts and circumstances. Through this encounter with the undeniable, with our collective life as captured in a work of visual or dramatic art, we are perfecting our moral judgment and, above all, feeling the challenge and hearing the call to act, for the sake of our own ethical identities. This may be the key to the transformative power of art over a violent past that seems irredeemable, immutable, but which is always subject to the creative force of our imagination.”
Please visit the Resource Library of the program in Peacebuilding and the Arts for the full text of Dr. Lerner’s remarks, in both Spanish and English.
Theatre Communications Group, the US center of UNESCO’s International Theatre Institute, suggests many ways to participate in World Theatre Day, including submitting an essay to theGeneration Without Borders Essay Competition, creating an I AM THEATRE video, and donating for SHINSAI: Theaters for Japan.
Get your free copy of the Acting Together DVD!
The Acting Together project invites all who receive this announcement to read our anthology, explore the resources of our toolkit, and screen the documentary in your organizations, schools, theatres and communities. To order copies, please visit New Village Press. In honor of the 50th Annual World Theatre Day, we are making fifty copies of the documentary, (single DVD without the toolkit) available for free to individuals and organizations that find the purchase price prohibitive. This single DVD comes with one-ti
me only public screening rights, and we offer it to the first 50 people who send us an email by the end of March, committing to a screening by the end of June.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: World Theatre Day Offer, with your name and mailing address.