Kàddu Yaraax presents
The Twelfth Senegalese Forum Theater Festival
July 20-25, 2016 in Yarakh / Dakar
The Senegalese Forum Theater Festival (SFTF), currently in its twelfth year, is a unique international theater festival, both in its objectives and its principles. It aims to respond to a need to promote the arts for individual and social development.
Forum Theater is a technique of the Theater of the Oppressed, first created in the early 1970s by Brazilian director and Workers’ Party (PT) activist Augusto Boal (1931-2009). In Senegal, Forum Theater actors are, above all, agents of local development and cooperative initiatives. Their work promotes and maintains non-conflictual relationships among populations in all types of social interactions.
In the spirit of Forum Theater—as we practice it—we also value the importance of creating and establishing avenues of dialogue as a means to examine realistic alternatives to social problems. We have therefore chosen to organize this Festival around the theme of “Beneen yoon” (“Another World Is Possible”), in order to explore alternatives to the current social and political situation facing our populations.
For certain situations, Forum Theater will be practiced as an approach to mediation, thereby focusing on its power as a tool for creating dialogue and building social harmony. “Beneen yoon” would, in this case, refer to an alternative way of confronting ideas and would exclude open conflict. Mediation occurs when a third party intervenes in order to facilitate a given relationship or broaden an understanding of a particular situation. Along with arbitration and conciliation, mediation is one of the alternative means of conflict resolution. However, where arbitration and conciliation require the intervention of a third party—who either imposes a solution or suggests one by appealing to morality or law—mediation requires a neutral third party whose sole aim is to help the protagonists reach a win-win agreement that they themselves create. Mediation can, therefore, be reasonably viewed as the best mode for achieving and maintaining relational and contractual freedom, through minimizing conflict itself. At a time when the manipulation of information influences our interpretation of reality, we are committed to developing a “relational intelligence” that promotes dialogue, hospitality, and economic and social justice.
These are the values that our twelfth Forum Theater Festival aims to encompass and promote.
Kàddu Yaraax, Festival Organizer and Coordinator
Created in November 1994, the Kàddu Yaraax (Voice of Yarakh) Association is an arts-based community organization located in the traditional neighborhood of Yarakh (in the Hann Bay area, currently known as the Hann Commune).
Its traditional mission is to organize community responses to all types of social oppression both through researching the root causes and through social interventions, such as the use of Forum Theater. In collaboration with community organizations, Kàddu Yaraax is dedicated to the inclusion of all populations in these dialogues around sociopolitical issues, such as land and sea occupation; the manipulation of public opinion; corruption; education; migration; overcoming poverty; and promoting the arts.
The Association is a member of the Alliance of Initiatives for Peace and Stability in West Africa, and the Senegalese Federation of Theater of the Oppressed.
Forum Theater Festival Objectives
The Senegalese Forum Theater Festival is open to artists from all over the world, professional as well as community-based, whose work is based on Theater of the Oppressed techniques, and/or who practice Forum Theater on a regular basis as a tool for developing critical consciousness, dialogue skills, acting and facilitation competency, or conflict resolution.
The aim of the Festival is to contribute to collective human development as well as to the promotion of Forum Theater as a problem-solving method.
A long-term commitment to Forum Theater, coupled with the high quality of the performance presentations, are the basic criteria for selecting the performing groups.
This Festival is designed to provide a framework for expression, training, exchange of techniques, experiences and ideas, and strategic planning for a widespread promotion of Forum Theater.
Forum Theater in Action
Forum Theater involves both theater as a form of artistic expression and an interactive forum on specific social issues performed on stage by a group of actors. It is designed to include both well-crafted performances depicting problem-posing scenes based on everyday life, and to allow and encourage direct audience intervention. Spectators see the play more than once; during the process, they are transformed into spect-actors, who are invited to stop the on-stage action and come on stage to replace the actor playing the protagonist, or main character, in an attempt to resolve an unresolved situation by offering possible alternative endings and exploring them together with the actors and the audience.
During the performance, an oppressive, negative or simply problematic situation is presented, with the acting style pushing towards irony; the situation is illogical and a distorted view of reality is shown. The performance aims to provoke the audience into engaging in dialogue.
As Augusto Boal points out, Forum Theater is a maieutic technique, that is, an aspect of the Socratic method which induces members of an audience—through a dialectic, or logical sequence of questions—to demonstrate their grasp and understanding of a situation.
The scene is presented a first time; then the Joker, or actor who facilitates the activity by connecting actors and audience, invites the audience to intervene. The facilitator does not judge the content or quality of the interventions, but rather moves the debate along in such a way that the spect-actors can deepen their understanding of the issue.
In addition to the use of local languages, a primary feature of Forum Theater is that it can be practiced in any type of space or venue, free therefore of the technical and theatrical conventions which are typically characteristic of institutional and/or professional theater.
Forum Theater Festival Activities
The Festival has an educational function, and will therefore include the following scheduled activities:
- Forum Theater performances;
- participatory discussions of themes related to human development;
- reflection sessions in the form of theatricalized talks, training, analyses of practices, and group discussions;
- discussions of community-based work experiences;
- exercises in group dynamics;
- technique-development workshops for artistic directors of performing groups; and
- open participatory programs designed to explore new approaches to Forum Theater and new directions for the Theater of the Oppressed in West Africa.
- film screenings about the creative process, and documentaries on Theater of the Oppressed practices (participants are invited to share their own filmed experiences);
- on-site performances of works collectively created by participants; and
- other proposals for discussion sessions or workshops by invited groups.
As in past years, the Festival will continue to offer training workshops to actors and artistic directors of invited Forum Theater performing groups in Theater of the Oppressed techniques designed to develop acting, directing and performance skills. These support workshops are based on an interactive pedagogy. Parallel workshops for beginners and participants not affiliated with invited performing groups might also be offered.
This Festival’s workshops will also be innovative: a pre-Festival workshop will be designed for journalists. For example, community radio journalists, both men and women, will be trained in the techniques of social intervention specific to the Theater of the Oppressed, and in other forms of arts activism in Senegal.
In Senegal, activist arts, and Forum Theater in particular, are rarely featured in radio programs about culture and in the print media. This situation clearly suggests that not only do the media rarely discuss the popular arts, but also that media journalists are poorly informed about popular culture.
In response to this situation, the pre-Festival training workshop will include both actors and artistic directors of invited theater groups, and cultural journalists working in print media, radio, television and community radio. Workshop participants will create and perform a play during the Festival.
FOR FURTHER DETAILS CONTACT
The Kàddu Yaraax Center / Authorized Association / 00023 /GRD/ AA/ ASO
BP: 22919 Dakar/ Tel: +22177 561 78 29 / +22177 326 86 31