July 2017 – Issue no.2
- Theatre of the Oppressed – A methodological force in the struggle for a New Common Sense – Hjalmar Jorge Joffre-Eichhorn, Bolivia
- “Journey Mercies”: Forum Theatre Outreach in East Africa – Mecca Antonia Burns, Uganda
- Act for Change – Collins Seymah Smith, Ghana
- 5th international Non-festival of Theatre of Oppressed in Slovenia – Barbara Polajnar, Slovenia
- AUGUSTUS – Training for facilitators: Forum Theatre for Community Development – Hungary
Dear community of the Theatre of the Oppressed and all those interested in the JSIRRI project,
The function of JSIRRI is to place in context, geographically and methodologically, the significance of Jana Sanskriti’s work; and to suggest paths by which it can interact with, shed light on, inspire and be inspired by, and open up questions about its relationship to other kinds of similar work in many places. In the last few weeks, Jana Sanskriti core team members have themselves, as so often in the past, been furthering these kinds of connections in practice, both beyond India (in Uganda) and in states beyond West Bengal in India (in Maharashtra). Other activities have brought practitioners to Badu for workshops and in order to strengthen links. (We hope to have accounts of much of this in subsequent Newsletters.)
This is the kind of sharing that signals the ethos of connection which underpins JS’s work and was the motivation for JSIRRI. Sanjoy might call it a form of spirituality. It is a practice of love; not as sentiment, but as an activity of exchange. JS do it because they know it works.
It’s very appropriate then that the contributions we’ve received for this Newsletter reflect many of these dimensions, in particular with reference to the African continent. “Journey Mercies”: Forum Theatre Outreach in East Africa’ gives a glimpse of the context of work which Jana Sanskriti’s visit supported and makes it clear that there a large number of similar concerns which the work of both groups addresses. We are very pleased to welcome Mecca, who contributed this piece, to our Editorial team and look forward to exploring these further in future.
Act for Change from Accra, Ghana uses interactive, popular theatre and other participatory methods and are looking for links with others doing similar work. Their participatory structure and the issues they address also suggest strong parallels with aspects of JS’s work, though their methodologies show some difference; there’s lots of room here for interaction and discussion.
In the African context, there are also established and very active TO groups in Senegal (Kaddu Yaraax) and Mozambique (CTO Maputo – though beware, the acronym is also used by several other organisations including the telephone provider!); in South Africa the Drama for Life programme at Wits University trains practitioners to work in Southern Africa Development Consortium countries, and runs a variety of programmes at all levels on TO, Playback and other forms of community and applied theatre.
Susan Quick of Enabling Theatre will report in the next Newsletter on her workshop for disabled people at this year’s Kaddu Yaraax festival; space permitting, we will also include an account of an earlier visit by Mecca Burns.
Hjalmar Joffre-Eichhorn’s short definition of key aspects of TO (Theatre of the Oppressed: A methodological force in the struggle for a New Common Sense) sets out six theses which exemplify its advantages as a method of responding to the critical situations – political, social, economic, interpersonal – which most people in the world face. Although written for publication in Latin America, the points it makes are universally applicable. They very usefully identify influences, principles and methodologies and signal important ways in which the ‘arsenal’ of TO is well-placed to respond to the enormous challenges facing humanity. A more extensive treatment of all these areas, plus their embedding in Boal’s work in Latin America and his links with Freire, can be found in Birgit Fritz’s book:
Birgit Fritz, The Courage to Become: Augusto Boal’s Revolutionary Politics of the Body.
Translated by Lara Sendzimir and Ralph Yarrow
danzig & unfried, 2017
EUR 39,–/US$ 42,–/BP 33,–
Hjalmar’s contribution is available in four languages: Español, Deutsch, English and Japanese: links to the non-English versions are provided. This is most welcome since we would like the Newsletter to be accessible to as many people as possible. Please send future contributions not only in English but also in any other language you feel comfortable with.
Barbara Polajnar has contributed a short account of the 5th ‘Non-Festival of TO’ in Slovenia– another inspiring event. We also include a notification of a forthcoming workshop in Italy.
Many thanks to all our contributors; we invite everyone to think about how this range of approaches to the practice of TO can be extended and supported. Are there collaborative ventures and projects which you would like to see building on this? We would very much welcome ideas and debates. And please contribute further material about methodology, goals, forms of practice and their effects for the next issue!
The next newsletter is planned to come out early October 2017. Send contributions (of all kinds, s.a.) by 15 September 2017 to firstname.lastname@example.org.
With our warmest greetings
The Editorial Team
Mecca, Kelly, Pratyusha, Ralph and Joschka