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Acting out (of) Conflict

August 31, 2011

We’re bringing you another story of conflict transformation through participatory theater from our international intern, Elise Webb:

(Photo: Elise Webb)

“We have heard these (SFCG) programs on the radio before, but to be able to see them and to participate as well has made me truly understand the issues.”
– Audience Participant from Ngororero

Deep in the Rwandan hills it is sometimes difficult to bring people together.  As one local woman put it, “We are not accustomed to working with our leaders.”

Search for Common Ground has been using Participatory Theatre to engage both local leaders and citizens in a dialogue about how to solve local problems. In April 2011, a team of actors began traveling the countryside with a production entitled, “The Citizen and the Officials, Working Together for Development.”  The aim was to give both groups a space to solve hypothetical problems to be then used as a tool to solve real-life problems in the future.

The production had actors portray four common conflicts and then allowed the audience members to come on stage, replace an actor, and solve the problem themselves. Audience members enthusiastically offered ideas on how local officials could solve problems between neighbors and corruption and officials demonstrated their skills.

One local official in Kirehe District stated, while trying to get his electorate enthused about a local program similar to a scene in the performance, “Public administration is like a car. If you are trailing behind it you get dust in your face. If you are speeding ahead you might get hurt. So you need to get on board and work with us to bring you the best services and programs.”

The production also highlights what bad leaders might do. This section was also very informative. One audience member said, “I had not realized what corruption looked like until this performance.”  Follow-up evaluations will see if this dialogue in a fictional setting was able to create lasting collaboration in the community.


Read other articles in this series:

Acting Out

Family Drama

Inheriting Conflict

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