Building Trust and Community Through Theatrical Programs

Festival-poster-230x300“Colombia: Imagining a Culture of Peace” is a fascinating article written by Diane Lefer. It appears online on the New. Clear. Vision. blog website. Read how a theatre festival can be a catalyst for peacebuilding:

“Building Trust and Community Through Theatrical Programs” by Diane Lefer

“Theatre Festival!” said the taxi driver. “Spending money on theatre when people don’t have food to eat! What for?” That’s what I hoped to find out from May 20-30 in Barrancabermeja, Colombia where I would offer a series of writing workshops and seek to answer questions of my own: How could theatre contribute to peace in a country where the armed conflict has gone on for six decades? How did the violence come to an end in this particular city — center of the country’s oil industry, once the site of battles pitting guerrilla forces against the Colombian army, and paramilitary death squads against civilians? What did it mean to hold an International Theatre Festival for Peace when till 2010, during the eight years of the Uribe administration, anyone who talked about peace or a political solution to the country’s woes risked being called a terrorist — a label that could target you for assassination?

When I visited Colombia in 2008, the human rights community in Bogotá seemed demoralized and diminished. The only people I saw protesting openly in the capital were those whose patriotism could not be questioned: family members of soldiers and police held captive by the FARC guerrillas. What I did not realize at the time was that in the most profound sense, peace is more than the cessation of war. Though dissent was silenced in many ways, people were coming together in nonviolent social movements to create and sustain a culture of peace, one that would start at society’s roots, in the community and in the home.

In Barrancabermeja I would see how theatre and the arts are reweaving the torn social fabric in communities traumatized by terror, violence, and social disruption.

read the rest of the article at:

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