FRATT – Fighting racism through theatre
Handbook of the european project
INTRODUCTION by Alvim Cossa
Chapter 1 – FRATT PROJECT by Giolli
Chapter 2 – SUBTLE RACISM by Jordi Forcadas – Forn de teatre Pa’tothom
Chapter 3 – CREATING A THEATRICAL DEBATE MADE BY AND FOR YOUNG PEOPLE – in the framework of the fight against discriminations by Pascal Guyot – Entr’act
Chapter 4 – Right-wing Extremism and Everyday Life – A FRATT Project at Forum-Theatre in Saxony-Anhaltby by Miteinander team.
Chapter 5 THE ITALIAN EXPERIENCE OF GIOLLI COOPERATIVE AMONG THE MANY INSECURITIES by Massimiliano Filoni, Roberto Mazzini, Maria Monteleone Dumas, Giovanni Badalotti and Rosanna Pippa – Giolli
Chapter 6: Strategies and needs. Write by all partners
Racism, Discrimination and Prejudice
Everything seems so “natural” that it does not bother us to see a black-skinned human being or a golden-skinned Latin occupy only subordinate and humble positions. It has become common to see people belonging to lower castes, in particular blacks, individually achieve success almost always in the same fields: music, football, … This deeply-rooted form of veiled and disguised racism, which always manifests itself in a violent way, happens in our hearts. The myth of racial equality leads us to ignore what is happening within ourselves!
Speaking of racism, discrimination and prejudice in an increasingly globalized world, where human relationships apparently extend far beyond the boundaries of race and colour, is very difficult, but urgent at the same time. The decisive element in the launch of this debate is the courage of every citizen, living in this global village, to admit that he has a feeling of discrimination and prejudice deeply rooted in him, even though he fails to admit it publicly.
Many of us say it loud and clear: I am not racist and I have no preconceptions. But, in the end, we realize that we are not free to put it into practice in our daily lives and sometimes we clearly and manifestly make some discrimination in an unconscious manner. We unwittingly recognize and practice a kind of tolerant racism: we, blacks and whites, can live well together only as long as each party recognizes its place and does not take the place that belongs to the other. When this situation occurs, do not be shaken. Remember that this is a deep-rooted feeling, which is part of the inadequate collective imagination cohabiting beside us day after day, without us realizing it. Unfortunately, we are the product of a society that classifies people by the colour of their skin since the days of slavery, and having a lighter complexion means more expertise, beauty and superiority.
I believe – as it is also evident – that, for most people, racism, discrimination and prejudice are merely a social construction, built by man throughout history with many shameful objectives, but the need to subjugate and enslave the others is obvious. Since they have been built, they can also be demolished.
In the framework of FRATT project, believing in this possibility of deconstruction and using the tools of the Theatre of the Oppressed, we developed a strategy to fight against this evil. We should identify the times when we are victims, but also – and equally important – the moments when we decide to do evil. They are subjugated based on preconceptions, they are attributed acts and odours that cannot even be perceived, simply because they are emigrants or profess a belief in God, which we do not identify ourselves with, or because their colour does not shine as we would like it to!
The principle of the Theatre of the Oppressed is illustrated by the famous words of Augusto Boal: “Citizen is not the one who lives in a society, but the one who transforms it”.
The work done to construct the scenes and structure of the performances created moments of introspective reflection deep within each of us. At each rehearsal, improvisation, encounter with the reality staged and lit by floodlights oozing with neurons, the members of the group turn the act of construction into an opportunity of redeeming exorcism, which upsets the ancestral ghosts of our culture and the practices that rooted in history.
The games and exercises – substantiated by rehearsal techniques – help to liquefy the solid pieces of bitterness, making them flow to the recesses of the mind, where they can be identified and addressed. The Theatre of the Oppressed triggers deep within the people who participate, either the protagonist of the scene or a mere spectator – since there are no acts in the Theatre of the Oppressed – an urgent need to leave the battlefield for the wellbeing of everyone.
In order that the member of the audience achieves the desired climax and initiates the process of deconstructing the dominant model, we essentially try to make each participant engage in an introspection exercise and have an adequate preparation so as to properly understand the whole theatrical message and make a correct interpretation of presented facts. To achieve this goal, we pay great attention to the language to be used, which must be identified by the community as easily as possible. We communicate ideas in a manner accessible to all strata of society and we pay also special attention to the interpretation of the facts of real life, for better identification of persons.
Our mission is to encourage the members of the audience to look within themselves and then find a way to solve the problems experienced in the performance, which, in fact, coincide with those that occur locally, thereby making the presented oppressions more concrete. We contribute to this challenge of building an increasingly better world with the tools that the Theatre of the Oppressed provides us, so that the citizen may find in his daily activities, oppressions, worries, hopes and own life, a reason and urge for ideological liberation, thus starting an exercise of awareness of his situation both as an individual and as part of a community.
The different forms of manifestation of racism and intolerance, which undergo metamorphoses and wear different masks in each country or city, become evident in the theatre workshop. The stories and images brought from Germany, France, Portugal, South Africa and Mozambique accurately mirror a heinous practice that persists in the middle of the twenty-first century. The spaces for exchange and debate showed the narrow-mindedness of those who truly believe that racism is an involuntary act and that it is something natural.
It has been proven that racial prejudice is an insidious disease that affects peoples and populations throughout the world. It is easy to diagnose because its symptoms and manifestations are known to all: fear, intolerance, segregation, discrimination and hatred. In this sea of signs that highlights the evils of the practice, the cause that stands out is the ignorance and belief in dogmas of dubious origin affecting the mental health of their supporters.
Theatre is a tool endowed with unavoidable powers if we seek a change in thinking and practices for a healthy coexistence among peoples, irrespective of their colour, religion, country of origin, setting aside their sexual orientation.
Thank you very much,
Founder and General Coordinator of the GTO-Maputo
President of RETEC (Mozambican Network of Community Theatre)
Degree in Theology
* Alvim Cossa is the Founder and General Coordinator of the GTO-Maputo, Mozambique, President of RETEC (Mozambican Network of Community Theatre) and graduated in Theology. Alvim has contributed to the “Clash of Colours” workshop on the occasion of the VII International Meeting of Theatre and Education organized by Forn de Teatre Pa’thotom (26th to 30th October 2011).
The project idea was first put forward during a European meeting organised by Giolli in the framework of Grundtvig training programme. From 19th to 25th March 2010, about twenty European entities met in Casaltone (Parma) to self-train on some key concepts of Boal’s method. The future partners had then the idea to bid for the tender that had just been released under the European programme “Fundamental Rights and Citizenship”.
After many changes and reflections, the initial draft project was eventually finalized. The key idea of the project is to test in 4 Countries (Italy, France, Germany and Spain) how racism can be addressed by theatre, especially Boal’s Theatre, which all four partners are experts and practitioners of.
The Theatre of the Oppressed (T.O.) is a method acting on the border between the artistic, social, political, educational and therapeutic fields. It was created in vivo from the challenges that Augusto Boal, the Brazilian theatre producer, had to take up starting from the 50ies, in Brazil first and then throughout the world. This approach finds a parallel in the pedagogical field, in the theory and practice of Paulo Freire; a method, which is thus maieutic and problem-posing.
The project revolves around the central idea of experimentation, yet allowing broad autonomy to the partners to deploy different strategies, tailored to each specific context.
Thus, in Germany, Miteinander thought about a strategy to break the “Culture of Silence”, namely how to invite the many German citizens to take a stand against the almost daily Nazi aggressions, of which they are indifferent and silent witnesses in the area of intervention.
In France, the Entr’act Company preferred the stereotype breaking and empowerment strategy, working with second-generation young people at risk of committing crimes and often expelled from school. The company tried to start a theatrical path with these young people, so as to strengthen their self-esteem and make them think about the discriminations suffered. The crowning achievement will be going back to the schools, from which they were expelled, to present themselves as promoters of a theatrical debate.
In Spain, in the Barcelona region, the phenomenon of rumours and stereotypes is particularly insidious. The Pa’tothom Company therefore decided to work on a strategy of citizens’ conscientization, trying to disprove rumours, in combination with a local campaign promoted by several anti-racist associations.
In Italy, Giolli chose to focus on the topic of insecurity, since it is the scene of extensive mass-media and political party activities, and since it seems to be the dominant feeling among Italians, affecting both their political choices and social relationships. Giolli chose the strategy of examining real insecurities and respond to them, so as to avoid venting concerns and anxieties on false targets, such as the foreigners.
Definitely, the above-described four axes are not sufficient to exhaust all possible strategies for the prevention and fight of racism, but they are 4 interesting differences that can build up together a richer and more varied approach.
One objective is also to find indications for an integrated model permitting to choose, from time to time, the best strategy based on the reading of the context, or a synergy between different strategies to enhance the effect of transformation.
Another key element of the project consists in the 4 meetings of the partners, planned in each of the four Countries, and that should enable not only to get a better agreement in terms of organization and administration, but also to investigate the above strategies and exchange experiences.
The final products planned mainly consist of videos and this text. Videos include one national video for each Country, plus a fifth video summarizing the entire project, so as to allow a wider use, essentially aimed at the dissemination of results.
The architecture of the project also envisages the use of the Internet, both to disseminate the actions and keep the progress of activities always up to date.
Our project started in early January 2011 and it will run until the end of 2012.
Here follows a brief summary of what emerged in each Country and, then, a final reflection chapter on the project for those wishing to use some ideas, activities, strategies and pathways.
For further details, please consult the websites of partners, or directly contact us, hoping that this work may help to successfully fight and prevent racism.
The times, in which we live in, urgently need it.
FRATT Project – Subtle racism – Spanish experience
Forn de teatre Pa’tothom
WHAT? – The ideological Setting of FRATT Project
The local project of Barcelona focuses on subtle racism, i.e. the kind of racism that generally reveals itself in daily life, but that is not identified and classified as such. The project is addressed to the persons, who say: “I’m not a racist, but…”. Nowadays, the racist is stereotyped as a morally rejected person, going around dressed as an SS soldier or skinhead. These patterns have socially rooted – through mass media and films – in the collective unconscious; therefore, all those who do not fall within this stereotype, describe themselves as “non-racist”. We believe that racism is part of the discriminatory attitudes disguised under other forms. Discrimination changed and its manifestations and expressions are still varied and dangerous. For a long time in our company, we have wanted to work on this kind of discrimination, since we believe that it encourages and strengthens the most explicit manifestations of this phenomenon, such as racism, xenophobia, islamophobia, etc.
Prejudice, stereotype and discrimination are words that may be sources of confusion. Prejudice is “a hostile or biased attitude towards a person, who belongs to a group, simply because he/she is part of it, thus assuming that he/she has the objectionable characteristics attributed to that group” (Allport, 1977:22). Everybody has prejudices that serve to decode the reality surrounding us, but a stereotype is a social construct, which – as such – reflects interests that often appeal to the feelings of people. Some characteristics of a few members of a group are thus generically attributed to the whole group. A person is attributed some characteristics as part of a group instead of being judged in his/her own individuality (Myers, 1995). The negative ideas that we have about one group lead us to express negative opinions with no prior verification and that are not always based on direct experience. A stereotyped prejudice leads to (positive or negative) discrimination and has many ways of manifesting itself, from legislation to television. However, in daily life, the main weapon is rumour, which becomes very aggressive and affects many people in the form of subtle racism1. Several studies on rumours and their effectiveness were carried out. Rumour is simplified information and, consequently, it is easy to transmit. It attained the status of truth and the personal experiences opposite to rumour are an exception to the rule. Discrimination perpetuates in time injustice and social marginalisation situations. It also allows rationalizing and reassuring people about the situation faced by their peers. In other words, many persons would not accept certain situations without a rational explanation such as, for example, that they have no documents or they take the jobs of our countrymen. This allows systematically abusing and trampling on the rights of several groups. Discrimination promotes power relationships that protect the economic and political environment, structuring coercive methods without using explicit violence. Capitalism works in a pyramid and, only with a broad impoverished social base, it can achieve its goal of monetary benefit to obtain more resources. However, how can we justify such an injustice within systems that describe themselves as democratic? Through discrimination. That is, through a daily exercise of subtle racism, nationality, diversity of gender, religion, bureaucratization of the identity, etc. For example, a non-Spanish person residing in Spain is called a “foreigner” if rich and coming from a rich country and “immigrant” if poor and coming from a poor country. Discrimination is thus a placebo that serves to fill the structural gaps of the system, since the victims of these phenomena are used as the “scapegoat” for the problems that beset us. In today’s democratic systems, which are immersed in a capitalist economic system (and, therefore, not very democratic since they are governed by no law), the economic factor implies a strong political weight of discrimination.
The political dimension of the phenomenon is exacerbated by the contribution provided by mass media and other shadow powers, thus extending social inequality. So, the work proposed by Pa’tothom for FRATT project consisted in establishing a means to fight against discriminations, especially subtle racism, as a practice that maintains a social inequality situation, thus favouring the political and economic class.
The Theatre of the Oppressed
The Theatre of the Oppressed is an artistic and political tool that allows those who have been socially marginalized to emancipate. Pa’tothom works on the whole range of nuances between the one who is oppressed and the one who is not oppressed. The latter is a person, who lives without feeling at ease and fights against the power relationship that a social group exerts on him, as representative of another social group. We are not interested in individual oppressions. The oppressed speaks and represents the specificity of a group, since he/she realizes his/her situation and wants to change it. If he/she does not fight, we call him/her alienated or victim2. In Europe, oppression strategies are disguised and more sophisticated. Depending on the group, with which we work, it will be more or less easy to make a critical reflection on the context. In line with the philosophy of our company, we tried – through Forum-Theatre – to induce a social transformation in the attending audience, later impacting on other media. For example, the persons, who are the victims of discrimination in the exercise of their rights since they live in an excluding society, must acquire the tools required to defend themselves against their aggressors. For FRATT project, we decided to work using Forum-Theatre, because it allows a dialogue between the audience and the stage, thus favouring the process, since subtle racism needs a lot of debate and analysis. Moreover, it does not allow that the message, launched from the stage, as if it were a chair (professor), falls on deaf ears and the member of the audience can show his/her concerns and discuss about them, thus breaking his/her passivity, getting on the stage and attempting a suggestion for a change. In the very moment in which he/she comes onto the stage, he/she becomes a “Spect-actor”.
HOW? – FRATT Process
In the framework of FRATT project in Barcelona, we held workshops, conferences, participations in congresses (VII International Meeting of Theatre and Education and 4th International Conference of Community Psychology), exchanges between professionals and sharing of knowledge, invisible actions, creation and/or participation in networks3.
Obviously, it all revolved around an axis: the Theatre of the Oppressed. So the project began with the performance of several debates in the different groups of the company (young people, drug addicts, mothers, wives, etc.), which allowed making a more accurate diagnosis of what worried them most about this topic. We conducted two workshops, and then we made a selection and invited several persons to participate in assembling a Forum-Theatre play, whose aim was to find some strategies to dismantle subtle racism and fight against the stereotypes on certain groups. These strategies pass through the search for valid, institutional and scientific, arguments to demonstrate that stereotypes and rumours are false.
Establishment of a group of 12 persons, who have been working for 4 months to analyze the phenomenon and create the scenes and drama of a play entitled “Mustafà está en el rellano (Mustafa is on the landing”.
“Mustafà está en el rellano”
Synopsis: In a block of flats, there is a problem affecting everyone. Despite a normal coexistence until then, due to certain interests and dissatisfactions, conflicts arise leading to attitudes full of prejudices and stereotypes towards the other. This creates a communication barrier and a distance that makes it impossible to find a common solution to the problems of the block of flats.
Characters: 5 co-owners in a block of flats.
Themes: rumours, stereotypes, subtle and daily racism.
Directed by: Jordi Forcadas
Performed by: Alí Hamidou, Mohamed Nory, Luz Marina Gil, Holga Pallejà, Eva Castillo, Marina Getino, Lluís Cases and Eduard Benito.
Forum-Theatre play, which is aimed at raising the awareness on the discrimination exercised daily through subtle racism. This is achieved through the performance of a Forum-Theatre play, where the audience is invited to find solutions through debate – and also getting on the stage – to the conflict raised. The story is about a young stranger, who comes to live in a block of flats, where everyone spends the time blaming him for anything that happens, even problems that have been dragging for a long time. We tried to include all points of view to show the most recurrent social profiles within the block of flats4.
The characters of the play are an oppressed, an explicit or overt racist, a subtle racist, an ally of the overt racist (which, in turn, is a long-time immigrant) and an ally of the oppressed (who, if she is guilty of an excess of something, it is of positive discrimination). We performed 12 performances in the framework of FRATT project, which mobilized the audience that, through the recognizance of rumours, their study and questioning, stopped using them in a banal and daily manner, since it realized the social implications associated to the fact of accepting them as absolute truths.
Theatre allows breaking the apparent normality of events and speeches in presenting them from a different perspective. The nature of gossip that rumour has, takes a different dimension when it is extrapolated from backstairs gossips. In some sessions, we realized that these rumours, though recognized, were not expressed aloud, thus we decided, depending on the audience, to introduce some actors among the attendees spreading rumours so as to stir the debate up.
Staging of the Forum-Theatre Play
The first step made by the group was studying the problems, while trying to be as impartial as possible. We avoided talking in terms of “good” and “bad” and we tried to get to the bottom of the phenomenon of subtle racism so as to stage it. We also asked the group to make a diagnosis and a sociological analysis on the topic of subtle racism. As the actor explores the theme, he/she becomes a social actor, adding quality and solidity to the presented drama. In this sense, there was much eclecticism and we clearly cited all the voices involved in the conflict. When you work with oppressed people, it is easier, since they know exactly what they want to change. But, in other cases, you must go through an awareness of the extent to which this subtle racism is unconsciously exercised.
The joker of this process was Jordi Forcadas, considering this task as something that goes beyond the simple “animator of the show”. The joker accompanied the entire process, from the workshops, the selection of social actors, the formation of a group, the support in the analysis of the phenomenon of subtle racism, the creation of the drama, the staging of the play and its subsequent performance and debate. Conceived in this manner, the joker becomes responsible of the process, though it is collective. The joker has therefore the key to everything, the art of asking the audience and provoking dialogue.
The mission of the show was not to make people be moved, but to make people think. It may touch inner chords, but basically there is no attempt to redeem the audience through the tears shed during the show, but to rationally remove some ideological assumptions.
Once we staged “Mustafà está en el rellano”, we performed it in front of groups having different degrees of identification with the problem. Through Forum-Theatre, people distanced themselves from value judgments on certain groups and thus succeeded in making an analysis. Very often people did not identify with the play, but with the situation, although they thought they were different. If people like a topic, the analysis may be extended to the oppression mechanisms existing within society and transforming it into a fertile ground for discrimination.
The different audiences enriched the debate, because the variety of points of view was a challenge to think about how to best develop strategies to fight against this phenomenon. Also the process itself was enriched, because when you perform a play against racism in an environment where everybody is anti-racist, benefits will be limited. But it was not the case in Barcelona: it did not remain an endogamous process, it rather reached different types of persons, most of whom were subtle racists. It must also be highlighted that the work done cannot take all the credit, because mass media and political and financial powers have contributed a great deal in making society become composed of a high percentage of subtle racists.
The audience of “Mustafà está en el rellano” opposed the drama. The character of the explicit and overt racist was the most widely attacked at the start of the spect-actors’ intervention, but a feeling of powerlessness seized the audience because he was unalterable and remained on his position. His inflexibility and intransigence serve to focus on the indecisive – subtle – characters, who, at a given moment, may be drawn to extremist positions and/or support them under certain circumstances, such as the one that we are currently living in Europe with the crisis. This means that we must work with most of the population, so as to avoid their transformation from subtle to explicit racists.
It proved appropriate, therefore, to strengthen the other characters and their actions to drive the debate on subtle racism, so that Forum Theatre can initiate a structural change, working on the position of the characters and their alliances. The reading of subtle racism is much more complex, but richer, because it is more nuanced. We obtained that, during Forums, the work was centred on subtle racism, rather than on explicit racism.
Aim – The Question
The question asked by Forum-Theatre: what do we believe, what don’t we believe5? How we inadvertently discriminate sometimes? This was the key to see if Forum-Theatre worked properly. Otherwise, we cannot say that the targets of the play have been achieved. But, in “Mustafà está en el rellano”, people felt involved and saw it as a real situation. Afterwards, interventions have generally been rash and contributed to the debate.
Nevertheless, we had the opportunity to verify that the theme of racism and discrimination requires much debate, because it is not dealt with, it is not put on the table and, when faced with discriminatory statements, people tend to evasion rather than to confrontation. Whereas, in the Forum-Theatre play, we have given the possibility to confront, opening a space of dialogue, which is the most important.
The aim of the play is to break the power structure supporting the most direct oppressor, who has poisoned one by one all the minds of the neighbours and has reinforced prejudices and stereotypes through rumour. The most plausible idea of how to confront him was to isolate the overt racist, so that his speech would no longer be supported and would lose its power.
The Points Dealt with in the Play
The interesting thing about the play is that the subtle racist, despite being alienated, never ceases to be an ambiguous character. He is an oppressor since he oppresses his partner through statements that she does not like – because she is a conciliatory, non-racist character – and he is an oppressor with the oppressed. Although he claims that he is not racist, he is not able to argue against the overt racist and let himself be oppressed. He is not the actual oppressor, but the situation leads him to be his tentacle. Though he is a loudspeaker of the oppressor, he remains a potential ally of the oppressed and the people went so far as to work with him and even to replace him to protect themselves against the explicit speeches of the overt racist. He is an alienated, who lives a situation that he is not able to handle and, just to make a good impression, he accepts everything that is being said to him. He adapts to a situation as he feels that there are many things oppressing him, but, unwittingly, through his attitude he is supporting an oppressive structure, when he launches a series of messages, when he falls silent if faced with certain topics, when he does not argue against the rumours. All this is detrimental to coexistence.
The oppressed has not been put in the condition of victim and he is equal to any other citizen, because he knows the country, the language, he has a job, some resources, etc. This enlarges the debate, since there is nothing explicit that shows a “defect” or justifies how he is treated, as it happens in real life when, the lack of documents, for example, is used to justify many abuses committed. However, he has a profile that gives grounds to several stereotypes: he is an immigrant, from Senegal, he works in a coffee bar, he lives alone and his family remained in his home country. His religious beliefs have never been specified, so as not to further complicate the debate.
The Topics addressed by Forum-Theatre
The play deals with several rumours and the counter-arguments have been selected by Pa’tothom’s analysis group, constantly consulting the material published by Xarxa Antirumours6.
Rumour: Immigrants are invading us. The most widespread rumour. The verb to invade has a negative connotation that stimulates fear. It tacitly implies that there is something to fear and that we must avoid. What happens if they invade us? How many are they? These are unanswered questions, but this rumour has neither flaws nor objections, and thus this feeling is generalized. With the crisis, it worsened, even if now not only they are not “invading us”, but they are also leaving Spain and a fewer are coming. For example, 50% fewer persons coming in migrant boats have been attended. In the play, the issue is dealt with when it is said that Mustafa is going to make his family coming, namely his wife and two daughters. This aspect was developed by the audience very passionately, from the feeling of seeing him separated from his children, paternalism and charity.
Rumour: They take our jobs. Immigrants do different jobs, but it is not surprising that they are occupying most badly paid, unhealthy jobs in poor conditions, with very long working days, low wages, etc. However, if immigrants were not doing these jobs, we could not assure an improvement in the guarantees, rights and wages offered for these jobs. It is like saying that, if there were no immigrants, the employers would be better people. But it is logical to think that if immigrants were not doing these jobs, people would seek other means to discriminate and continue under the same conditions to maximize profits. So, for instance, according to a report drawn up by the NGO Intermón Oxfam in 2010, 859,000 Spanish families had a domestic help, although only 295,000 persons in total were enrolled in social security. In other words, more than half a million employing families did not meet their legal obligations.
Moreover, with the crisis, the number of immigrants losing their jobs is higher than the number of Spanish people. In our case, Mustafa is not looking for a job, but in the play it is said “they are invading us” and “they take our jobs”. The audience reacts, admitting that they would not be willing to accept such poorly paid jobs and, sometimes, they also blame the immigrants for taking very badly paid jobs, but without delving into the entrepreneurial interests behind.
Rumour: They do not pay social security contributions. 12.7% of the persons enrolled in social security in Barcelona are foreigners. This figure exceeds the Spanish average (10.6%). In the play, Mustafa is a worker, who runs a coffee bar. As a consequence, since he pays social security contributions, he pays his taxes, etc. The topic of job has not been delved into during any performance, which denotes the degree of satisfaction of the audience about the fact that the immigrant “is a decent person, who works and he is not a thief”. But the topic has been put on the table, because for each immigrant that is not paying social security contributions, there is an employer who benefits from this situation.
Rumour: Immigrants receive all the aids from social services. There are no specific aids for foreigners from any public administration in Spain. This service is based on the parameters of economic situation, age, number of dependant relatives, period of residence in the town or the fact of being in severe living conditions. So, if the immigrant population is much more impoverished than the Spanish average and only 5.3% of the residents in Barcelona has benefited from social services, not only it is not a collapse, but it is also unfair. The proportions are the same for housing, scholarships, etc. In the play, Mustafa receives a letter from the local administration and his neighbours take for granted that it is an “aid”, when it could be anything else. In all the performances, the audience assumed it was true and the joker had to inform them of the actual situation. In the play, this rumour comes out twice: one time it is worded by the overt racist and the other by the subtle racist. Nobody has ever come onto the stage to refute it. We think that there are two aspects: the first is that there is a great ignorance of what is really going on and everyone simply thinks the same, but, from a charitable point of view, we must accept that someone gets aids; the second is that people see the aids as an acquired right, so the fact that they are given to persons outside the territory means a dispossession and, therefore, they do not see it as a discriminatory argument.
Rumour: They abuse the health system and make it collapse. This is not true, because immigrants are younger than the Spanish population and use 40% less health resources7. This is another aspect dealt with in the Forum-Theatre play, because the oppressed is a young man. This rumour is associated to the previous one and the reaction of the public was similar.
Rumour: They do not know the rules of civility. The Ordinance of Civility in Barcelona is more than questionable, as it consists of absolutely disparate laws, such as: spitting in the street, doing sports, prostituting, street vending, drinking alcoholic drinks in the street, going shirtless, defecating, spraying graffiti, sleeping in the street, cleaning windshields, begging, distributing leaflets, etc. Currently, you can see children playing football in the street, while others stand guard to warn if the police are coming. In Barcelona, the fact that kids play football on the streets is an uncivil act. Many of these penalties are used to condemn poor people and do not solve poverty, such as washing in a fountain. However, the proportion of penalties for foreigners is the same as for natives. But, if a Spaniard infringes a regulation, he is likely to do so despite knowing the rules, whereas we can instead envisage the possibility that a percentage of the foreigners infringe them due to ignorance or poverty. On the other hand, when imposing a penalty, it is likely to be tougher towards immigrants or they are likely to be the perfect targets of fines, as they perform activities, such as street vending. Knowledge of the rules or not is addressed during the play several times and from different viewpoints. From contempt “he does not know what a litterbin is”, to annoyance “He needs first talk with the manager of the block, who will then call me”, to settlement “Now that you know the rules, you have to pay”. Knowledge of the rules passes through a painful process for the oppressed, which must not only know the rule, but also demonstrate socially that he knows it. The others are not satisfied simply of what he does or does not, but he has to pay for it all to let everyone calm and atone for the fault of living in society.
Rumour: We are losing our identity. It is a very ethnocentric view that fails to recognize that every culture evolves and renews. Identity is an aspect to be carefully worked out because it involves emotional elements of group membership. In Western Countries, the process of identity construction is divided into they and we, as a mechanism defining the attributes of our culture compared to what is supposed to be the culture of the others, and denying the heterogeneous composition of every culture and the diversity among cultures. It must also be highlighted that many of the values that Spaniards consider as their own, actually come from other sources, such as the Arabs. In the play, Mustafa expresses his sympathy for certain values of the country and, although this rumour is not addressed directly, it is associated to the next one.
Rumour: They do not want to integrate. By integration we mean an acculturation process, through which a person acquires the values of a culture at the expense of his/her own culture. Integration is the assimilation of the host culture, i.e. – so conceived – it is a sort of colonialism. Therefore, we must not refute the rumour, but the very concept of “integration”, since, in our view, the capacity of coexistence offered by the host society is at stake. However, we knew the counter-arguments of the rumour, but avoided touching the subject. Integration of an immigrant is measured by the level of mastery of the host language, which is a very delicate topic in Catalonia as it is linked to a strong sense of nationalism. So we decided to present an immigrant, who understands Catalan and wants to learn it better for business reasons because he runs a bar, which avoids creating a conflict between the play and nationalist feelings, and also allows us to freely talk about him without accusing him to be poorly integrated in Catalan society. Another measure of integration is the links that foreigners maintain with their country of origin or the fact of marrying a Spanish woman or man. Not even this measure seems to be a reliable measure, on which to work.
Other Issues addressed in the Play
Besides the theme of rumours, the play touches several other interesting aspects, on which to work.
The vast ignorance of everyone about the country of origin of the oppressed. Even the character of the girl, who appreciates him for the same reason for which the others despise him: because he is an immigrant.
It is latent that the problem in the block of flats is gradually worsening outside Mustafa’s participation, taking disproportionate dimensions. Only when it explodes, he will be informed, but only to accuse him. There is no prior dialogue or communication attempt from the neighbours about the doubts – or certainties – pervading them.
There are Spanish values that are universal and the fact of being a foreigner does not necessarily imply that he cannot share the same values.
No mistakes are allowed to an immigrant.
In a community, when there is a person, who stirs up the hostility against another, he can poison the minds of the whole group, thus being detrimental to coexistence. Fascism knows it and works on it.
Although the percentage of foreigners in Spain is mostly composed of young men, in the play, everybody has no doubts in suspecting him because he lives alone. His activities are monitored, the others fear him and wonder whether is a terrorist or not.
We also worked on the immigrant, who has assimilated the host culture that leads him to discriminate another immigrant, Mustafa, who has lived there for a shorter time. This means that an integration process may lead to acquire many values, including discrimination.
With regard to space, we chose the landing of a block of flats as meeting point for all the characters, either wittingly or unwittingly. When, during creation, we wondered which are the public spaces for the meeting of all the citizens, our reply was: workplaces or official institutions (hospitals, administration, etc.), which are all must-visit sites. There are no real spaces for an intentional meeting of the citizens, especially in large cities, which encourages the emergence of ghettos with consequent estrangement among social groups. The block of flats seemed to us the ideal place in order to draw a parallel with social coexistence. Here, in theory, everyone has the same interests that the block of flats is kept well and coexistence, too. This point allows us to work on social and personal aspects. Both aspects concern us, because when we see the characters in their intimacy, we see them without many social masks. Likewise, the door has a strong symbolic value, the outside and the inside, which somehow raises a question about the extent to which society lets Mustafa in. What is evident is that, through rumour, a whole theory is postulated on the inner life of Mustafa and we hope to see the possibility of going back home in order not to fall into unfounded prejudices and misconceptions.
Besides the landing, another spatial element having a social parallelism is the terrace of the block of flats. Simply because of their seniority of residence, a few co-owners make private use of the terrace and think that the newly arrived tenant (Mustafa) should not be authorized to access it. They defend a privilege, which is not specified in any regulations, and refuse to share it for fear of losing it and to feel that their status is higher.
Entities, which have supported the entire process in a timely or extended manner: SOS Racismo, Lola López, Xarxa BCN Antirumors, “Andruxai” Foundation, Language School of Granollers, “Drassanes” Civic Centre, “Ton i Guida” Cultural Centre, Municipality of Sant Boi de Llobregat and “Tot Raval” Foundation.
1 For these definitions, we base ourselves on the “Guía pràctica per l’agents antirumors (Practical Manual for the Anti-rumours Agent)”, even if the words are not exactly the same. However, we recommend this reading.
Barcelona, June 2011.
2 “Praxis del teatro del oprimido en Barcelona (Practice of the Theatre of the Oppressed in Barcelona)” by J. Forcadas. Barcelona, June 2012.
3 All these actions are described in detail in the Progress Report – FRATT drawn up by Forn de Teatre Pa’tothom, 2012.
4 The scenario and characters of the play are described in the book “Praxis del teatro del oprimido en Barcelona” by Jordi Forcadas. Barcelona, June 2012.
5 Lola López, coordinator of CEA – Centros de Estudios Africanos (Centre for African Studies).
6 Website of Xarxa BCN Antirumors (BCN Anti-rumours Network): http://www.bcnantirumours.cat.
7 Extract from “Xarxa antirumours”: XXX Jornadas de la Asociación de Economía de la Salud (XXX Days of the Health Economic Association) 2010, Juan Oliva.
CREATING A THEATRICAL DEBATE MADE BY AND FOR YOUNG PEOPLE
in the framework of the fight against discriminations
by Pascal Guyot
For a few decades, in Europe, economic troubles and political circumstances have been encouraging a new surge of racism, mainly towards immigrants. In France, a political party, the Front National, supports this movement. It also fuels it with campaigns, in which the hatred of foreigners serves as a programme.
According to Fanon: “Today’s racism progresses wearing a mask, it presents itself as a sort of objective, harassed and criticized, common sense claiming to oppose the racism of the past, the one that made it a matter of biological difference. We are no longer speaking of inferiority of the races, but rather of inferiority of civilizations or, more ambiguously, of inferiority of the practices, which are presented as vestiges of backwardness. Thus, the republican ideal of progress is disclosed, stigmatizing peoples that, unfortunately, have not access to education or health as they simply lack the will to integrate”.
The Entr’act Company is based in Saint-Raphaël, a town of 50,000 inhabitants in the department of Var. During various elections, the voting results in the PACA region (Provence, Alps, Côte d’Azur) and, especially in the department of Var, showed a high percentage – among the largest in France – for extreme right wing candidates (25% at the last presidential elections in Saint-Raphaël).
In our professional practice, we hear more and more racist remarks; the other is considered as an enemy, someone who scares us. Nowadays, the failure to appreciate one another, the views reported by mass media, the worsening of inequalities create a climate of growing suspicion and insecurity.
Racism is a topic, which is often dealt with in the various courses and workshops that we hold throughout the year. Our social and educational partners often seem helpless when faced with the discriminating speeches and acts of violence observed within their institutions.
Schools continuously ask us if our company has created a theatrical debate on the topic of discriminations.
Alain Serres said: “… Between the words uttered – sometimes also in a schoolyard in a funny tone – and crime, there is a whole range, the ominous range of racist attitudes and crimes. Gratuitous, offensive insults. The entry denied to a club. A ‘two-colour’ love story opposed by the parents. The difficulty in finding an internship because of a too dark skin. A job denied, a hundred times, because the candidate does not match the European profile or a flat refused because the residents in the building would not like to see persons of all ‘shades’…”.
We deem it important to create places of exchange, listening, debate, conviviality to fight against racism. Transform the fear of the other into an embrace, combat prejudices and stigmas. Establish sincere and constructive interactions to accept the difference and turn it into a fortune. Therefore, it seemed appropriate to create several interactive performances, with young people, designed to be played in junior and senior secondary schools, social structures, professional traineeships, universities, theatres, promoting reflection and debate on issues associated with racism.
2. PRESENTATION OF THE ENTR’ACT COMPANY
Entr’Act is a Theatre Company, which uses the method of the Theatre of the Oppressed as a tool for communication, debate and training through active expression techniques and Forum-Theatre. For several years, the company has been holding courses and workshops in collaboration with associations and institutions.
According to Augusto Boal: “The Forum-Theatre is a form of participation within a target environment that allows highlighting the issues and conflicts specific to that environment”.
In collaboration with various institutions, we chose to use the Forum-Theatre as a research tool on the topic of racism. The establishment of Forum-Theatre workshops allows promoting awareness of the self and of others. The theatrical games and exercises proposed during the workshops are aimed at developing self-confidence, confidence in the others, listening, expression, imagination, concentration and memory.
This work allows creating scenes from real life situations (experienced by the persons attending Forum-Theatre workshops), and then narrating, playing and dramatizing them. This space of collective creativity, channelled as dramatic activity, promotes the emergence of a learning-to-be, onto which the learning-to-do is naturally grafted, carried away by the energy of the group.
The Forum-Theatre allows raising the awareness of the members of the public, giving them the floor on more or less hot topics, unrolling the red carpet in front of them so that imagination, reflection, engagement may take the power. The Forum-Theatre enables – with the participation of everyone – to collectively speak and imagine alternative solutions to the problems of this world. Here, more specifically, to the problems related to racism and discriminations at school, in the family, in the workplace or in public spaces.
By organizing the participation of the audience in the performance, its passage from the auditorium to the stage, enabling it to enter the creative space of improvisation, debating, the member of the audience becomes an actor: it is the concept of “Spect-actor”.
We play the theatrical model (scenes), which presents difficult and conflicting situations – there is always one (or more) character(s) who play(s) the oppressor(s) and one (or more) who play(s) the oppressed – before the audience. Then, we repeat the same scenes a second time; the game master invites the spect-actors to stop the scene when they want to, step into the theatrical space, replace the character(s) in trouble, play their own solution to try to transform the initial situation.
This is to promote awareness, awaken the spirit of protest, practice enthusiasm and emotions so that spect-actors invited on stage show their alternative suggestions to the proposed action.
Thus, the members of the audience may collectively reflect on the suggestions and become the drivers of social action. In a so-defined context, the young people in MGI and ETAPS programmes performed various sketches illustrating situations of inequality.
The operational nature of Forum-Theatre allows searching together and identifying solutions and strategies for change.
Everyone feels concerned, everybody can identify with the character he/she is playing.
This is to prepare future through a dynamization, a self-activation.
Our overall objective is to strengthen the ability of everyone to be an Actor, promoter of messages and reflections, and to find in oneself, with the help of others, the resources required to be more than a simple spectator, but rather the protagonist of one’s own life, through the theatrical language; everybody can use it, since theatre, like our life, is made of movements, words, thoughts, emotions and sensations.
This tool meets the need to express and optimize one’s own thoughts, wishes, skills, motivations, values, thoughts, questions… in a dynamic and playful space.
3. FRATT PROJECT
3.1. OUR FRENCH PARTNERS
The Regional Council of PACA Region (Provence, Alps, Côte d’Azur)
HALDE (High Authority for the Fight against Discrimination)
The Education Superintendence of Nice, SAIO (University orientation centre), MGI (Overall mission for job placement) programme
The Senior Secondary School “Langevin”, La Seyne sur Mer
The University of Toulon – “Straight to the Heart” operation
The Municipality of La Seyne sur Mer
The Municipality of Saint-Raphaël
The Municipality of Le Muy
INFA, Educational establishment
IESTS, School of Social Service
IFTS, School of Social Service of the Red Cross
3.2. PARTICIPATING TRAINEES
– Young people in the MGI programme, La Seyne sur Mer
– Young people attending an ETAPS training course at INFA in Saint-Raphaël
– Students of a School of Social Service: IESTS or IFTS
March and April 2011: planning of the project with the partners of Toulon and La Seyne sur Mer.
March 2011: course of awareness through Forum-Theatre at IESTS School of Social Service.
May 2011: Forum-Theatre creation course with the young people in the MGI programme, Senior Secondary School Langevin, La Seyne sur Mer.
June 2011: eight performances (4 sessions at the Senior Secondary School Langevin, 2 sessions at the Junior Secondary School Wallon, 1 session in the auditorium Tisot of La Seyne sur Mer and 1 session at the University of Toulon).
September 2011: course with the young people in the MGI programme, Senior Secondary School Langevin of La Seyne sur Mer.
October and November 2011: Forum-Theatre introductory course with the students of the School of Social Service.
November and December 2011: planning of the project in Saint-Raphaël with the partners.
January 2012: Forum-Theatre creation course with the young people attending INFA in Saint-Raphaël (ETAPS programme).
February 2012: six performances (1 session at INFA, 1 session at the Holiday Centre Villa Soleil in Saint-Raphaël, 2 sessions in the auditorium Félix Martin in Saint-Raphaël, 1 session at the Youth Centre in Le Muy, 1 session at the Sports Centre CREPS in Boulouris).
3.4. SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES
– Preventing discriminatory behaviours, enabling young people to identify them at the earliest possible moment;
– Discovering the theatrical expression;
– Identifying one’s own talents and areas of learning;
– Gaining confidence, self-assurance and adaptability;
– Optimizing one’s own resources;
– Promoting cohesion, exchanges, team spirit;
– Developing the art of effective and ethical communication;
– Developing one’s own abilities of expression and connection;
– Sharing in a space of play and creativity;
– Identifying ritualized behaviours;
– Searching for alternatives, through play, to affect inertia or resistance mechanisms.
3.5. WORKING METHOD
Theatrical games and exercises to develop listening, confidence, expression, imagination, memory and concentration. Exercises of return to one’s roots. Image-Theatre technique. Improvisation technique. Creating scenes from real life situations, narrating, playing and then dramatizing them.
Theatrical debate, during which the “spect-actor” can, at any time, stop the scene, replace the character in trouble and suggest a solution – through play – to the issues raised.
4. THE PROJECT WITH ETAPS PROGRAMME
The Regional Service for Lifelong Learning and Training offers a series of programmes called “Espaces (spaces)”, which the Territorial Spaces of Access to First Knowledge (ETAPS, Espaces Territoriaux d’Accès aux Premiers Savoirs) belong to.
ETAPS are aimed at the acquisition of general knowledge, but also of French as a second language, according to the needs of the persons concerned, as well as the acceptance of the differences due to the diversity among members of the same group. As far as the acquisition of knowledge is concerned, ETAPS are addressed to young people below 26, unskilled and unemployed. Young people are admitted to ETAPS training, mainly because of their school disengagement and/or desocialization.
They all suffer from lack of self-esteem and self-confidence and, consequently, self-devaluation, resulting from chaotic life paths, personal problems, integration problems, non-acceptance of one another’s differences, school failures, poor initial training or bad guidance. Nationalities are multiple and the trainees often are FLE (French is their second language); therefore, they must learn French as a priority, as well as citizenship rules to be able to integrate in our society.
The team of trainers completed its pedagogical experience and guides it accordingly, depending on the different situations encountered during the paths of these young people. For this reason, the priority work stream for group cohesion throughout their training is the acceptance of differences (of any kind) and, therefore, the fight against discriminations.
The peculiarity of this ETAPS public is to be completely heteroclite and the aim is to teach them to treasure these differences so as to be able to strive – together – for the same success.
The ages of admitted trainees range between 16 and 26 years old, they come from different Countries, different social backgrounds, have different religion beliefs, different sexual orientation, …
This public reflects the young people attending junior and senior secondary schools, training and learning centres, universities, and so on, but, at the training centre, all trainees must work together, help each other, accept themselves and, especially, accept the others in all their differences. And they must all face the same problems related to their differences, according to their age, origin, religion, sex, wealth, disability.
Some of these young people are victims and they can also be torturers. But what is worst is that they are not even aware of it.
It is essential to raise their awareness, particularly by informing them, making them think, work on the different forms that any discrimination may take in order to eventually change their minds. They are unable to distinguish the level of severity between the acts they suffer and the acts they commit and, very often, the victims yield or deny such acts.
When the trainers explain them that discriminations may range from simple mockery to the most serious crimes, they find it difficult to understand.
5. THE PROJECT WITH MGI PROGRAMME
National Education’s overall mission for job placement
La Seyne sur Mer
MGI welcomes students with a twofold objective:
— Motivation, regulation of behaviours, acquisition of reference points and restoration of the social bond, need to reconcile these students with the school and its teaching programmes, to give them self-confidence again and instil in them the desire to engage in learning; reflection on the concepts of respect, racism, discrimination, etc.;
— The definition of the project: it consists in offering these young people the possibility to build and/or validate a professional project and then follow a qualifying educational path.
Student care involves an upgrading of knowledge; these actions lead to the adoption of differentiated and innovative teaching methods and a real teamwork. They prepare to social and professional integration through the discovery of life within a company. They are aimed at the creation of a training and job placement project.
Teaching methods that are often original and experimental are used to prevent school dropout: they are a lever for innovation in the education system. Nearly three quarters of the students, who benefited from these specific actions, were able to engage again at school and in the community and find once more the path to success: customized student care, and support and follow-up methods explain these results.
6. RESULTS OF THE ACTION
This method intends to fight against racism and the fear of foreigners, and favours the development and flourishing of individuals. Both the future adult and the adult are involved in this process of transmission and evolution.
This evolution is definitely based on the transmission of knowledge, of practical know-how and rules, but the transmission rests upon beliefs and values. Thus we need to transmit a meaning, a “WHY?”.
The values are the foundations, on which attitudes and behaviours are based.
Sixty young adults attended the workshops on Forum-Theatre and participated in the creation of theatrical debates.
This work is the result of an overall reflection and human adventure, rooted in the daily lives of each of us from the moment, in which we begin thinking about how we behave towards the others and what we transmit.
Everyone was recognized in his/her legitimacy and specificity. Respect and recognition established moments for exchange, sharing, creativity, and play.
Moments that create a mutual trust in each other, times allowing a real exchange beyond prejudices, instants when the values of the ones respect the values of the others.
Two productions entitled:
“Différents (Different individuals)” in La Seyne sur Mer and “Melting Pot” in Saint-Raphaël were staged through 14 Forum-Theatre performances in different places: junior and senior secondary schools, districts, cultural centres, theatres. More than 1200 “spect-actors” attended the performances of theatrical debates.
The two specific projects with the young people of ETAPS and MGI programmes were filmed and resulted in the creation of two DVDs.
At the same time as the workshops with young people, we held some training courses in the schools of social service in order to introduce future teachers to Forum-Theatre techniques and the questioning related to discriminations.
The Forum-Theatre tool allowed raising the awareness of the public about this founding dimension. Theatre is a privileged means to question the awareness and responsibility of each single person.
This awareness allows:
– Distancing from inherited prejudices and automatisms;
– Questioning one’s own values;
– Identifying, in daily life situations, the satisfactions and dissatisfactions connected with one’s own personal beliefs;
– Realizing that we are, as teenagers or adults, the agents of transmission of these values;
– Sharing this questioning with others in order to create areas of exchange and reflection to promote this awareness at a broader scale and, thus, generate the enlightened transmission channels that are feasible in our society.
Because of its specificity, the Forum-Theatre tool allowed highlighting the importance of this transmission, involving situations in which values, such as respect, solidarity, friendship, sharing and so on are infringed. In the contexts that we chose to deal with, it invites to question situations linked to the theme of recognition and, vice-versa, of non-recognition.
For this reason, the reactions of the public prove the actual and tangible interest in pointing out the humiliating, discriminatory, racist behaviours, the oppressions suffered and “this everyday racism”. The possible constructive orientation resulting from on-stage interventions, reactions, exchanges and debates proves that concrete actions may be taken in our society every day.
Some examples of scenes:
“MGI ASSURANCE” (discrimination at employment)
A girl of African origin is not admitted to a traineeship, the boss advances the excuse that the position had already been taken…
Entry to a club is denied to “certain persons”…
“CONTROL AT THE SUPERMARKET”
Control of the haversacks in a supermarket by a security guard, who suspects three teenagers of theft. They are presumed guilty and humiliated in front of everybody…
“IDENTITY CHECK” (racial profiling)
In one district, some policemen check the identity of young blacks and Arabs. The other teenagers try to intervene…
Love will be impossible between two young people, who love each other. The boy’s parents do not want to see their son with a “black” girl. At the same time, the parents of the girl do not want their daughter to have a relationship with a “white” boy…
7. OUR SUCCESSES
The different workshops created promoted a collective awareness of the battles to fight to curb racism.
If, at the beginning of the action, the young people in the programmes seemed somewhat passive, as time went by, they increasingly became the “Actors” of the training course. The trainees were more and more motivated. Today, they are a proposing force and project developers.
Moments of intense emotion punctuated the days of the course.
Currently, partners are determined to become much more involved in the fight against discriminations. The Municipality of Saint-Raphaël, for instance, wants to develop a specific prevention programme.
The young trainees are interested in pursuing the action and, today, new collaboration projects are springing up between young people and social-educational partners (social centres, educational establishments, junior and senior secondary schools, etc.).
New partners would like to engage in new projects dealing with racism, respect, recognition, meeting among cultures.
The reactions and feedbacks of the public demonstrated the strong interest raised by the issues related to racist attitudes and the notion of discrimination. Our method helped this awareness and proved to be positive, insofar as the staging of our topic through Forum-Theatre performances in front of a large audience has clearly attracted the interest of the public.
Passionate debates, key issues raised, evidence of personal experiences related to the retained topic, exchanges suggesting possible solutions and directions… all this generated constructive ideas and enlightened initiative and change options that are likely to improve the transmission of important values in the future, in the respect of everybody.
The European Dimension
Sharing with other European companies has, on the one hand, allowed confronting each other’s experiences and learning from each other and, on the other, has added weight and credibility to the actions implemented locally.
On an individual level, we observed that some trainees, who had been victims of racism, used to escape into a denial characterized by the acceptance of the oppressive system. A form of alienation, in which it is impossible to challenge the established doctrine: “Racism doesn’t exist, I don’t feel concerned, all is well…”.
Some topics have only been touched on; for instance, the questioning about the self-isolation of ethnic communities. We would need more time to work out these basic issues fuelling misunderstandings and risks of violence in the districts.
As mentioned above, we met young people, who were the victims of racism and, at the same time, the oppressors in other situations involving issues of sexism or homophobia, for example.
Some of our partners have not always been up to the initially undertaken engagement, especially as regards the dissemination of information and communication about the project. It seems that the issues dealing with racism are doomed to somewhat confidential events. The politicians in our region and department are too often extremely cautious about the issues dealing with immigration.
Actually, despite our desire to largely disseminate information to announce the performances, we have often been confronted with this lack of initiative of our institutional partners.
To continue the actions already in place,
To fight against the phenomenon of isolation and exclusion of the actions against racism,
To educate a very large audience,
To transform the fear of the others into an embrace,
To enhance the different cultures,
To promote the meeting between cultures,
our aim is to develop an experimental project on the urban area community of Fréjus / Saint-Raphaël.
We would like to combine multiple art forms and communication tools (Forum-Theatre, performances, showing of films, exhibitions, conferences, radio broadcasts, radio plays, and so on).
The crowning achievement of the project will be the organization of “One Week against Racism”, in order to “leave a lasting impression” and have a very wide media dissemination.
This week, during which all art forms will be mixed together, will include the results of the workshops set up throughout the year with our different partners (junior and senior secondary schools, educational establishments, job placement traineeships, social structures, theatre, cinema, radio, etc.).
To strive for greater equality, it is essential that each generation rethinks its own imaginary and fights against injustice. For a better life together in a more fraternal world, each country must be able to overcome fear and distrust in favour of an empathetic debate. Debating, exchanging, looking, sharing, playing with the other implies to know the other to recognize him/her.
According to Marie Rose Moro: “…The children of today and tomorrow… are human beings to bring up in a changing and mixed race world and, as a consequence, they are plural and mixed heritage beings. This is the proper time to recognize them for what they are, in their complexity, and change the way we look at them and their parents. We would need very little. A fresh and unbiased look, a recognition of diversity, a fierce desire to get rid of minor and major scorns linked to differences and false hierarchies.
A society that works properly must find the means to see the children as they are, in their diversity and uniqueness, to love them, make them grow, educate them and enable them to build tomorrow’s world…”.
Caroline, 15 years old, says “… I have long thought. I have travelled in space and time, I have meditated upon injustice, the good, the bad, the weaknesses and strengths of a human being. It occurred to me that the world besides being what you make of it, it’s also what you don’t make of it. Let me explain myself better: the world is a seed that, thank to our care or, vice-versa, the lack of care by us, can germinate, flower, bear fruit and ripen or rot in the ground and remain barren: it only depends on us…”
Right-wing Extremism and Everyday Life
FRATT Project at Forum-Theatre in Saxony-Anhalt
Saxony-Anhalt is one of the eastern German federal states which were created after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the GDR. Its total area, rural and provincial, covers 20,445 km² (5.7 percent of the land mass of Germany). Approximately 2.52 million inhabitants (3.5 percent of the total German population) live here, less than 1.9 percent of the resident population are foreigners. Most of these people live within the three large urban areas of Halle/Saale, Magdeburg and Dessau-Roßlau. As a consequence of the collapse of the GDR – and the related change from a state-directed into a free-market economy – large areas of eastern Germany have been characterised by profound upheaval. Former industrial and agricultural production areas have become landscapes of closed factories and high unemployment. As the established infrastructure eroded, both social discrepancies and political and social processes of disintegration intensified. Today many regions within the federal state, especially rural and provincial areas, are marked by emigration and unemployment. Particularly as young, well skilled and motivated people migrate to the western German federal states in search of better prospects, rural and provincial areas are threatened by desolation and a lack of social, economic and cultural infrastructure (the provision of grocery stores, doctors, as well as local action groups and organisations suffer). Functioning democratic civil society exists only in a very rudimentary form.
“The baker left the town a long time ago, you can only get to the supermarket by car, the bus takes half an hour to get to the nearest school, community centre or youth centre; far away!”1
It is still a challenge to shape a democratic society in Saxony-Anhalt. Even 22 years after the Wall fell it has to be recognized how long authoritarian imprints continue to have an influence and how few democratic and social traditions are present in the eastern part of Germany. At the same time, racist, authoritarian and xenophobic attitudes can be observed among large numbers of the general public.
According to the 2009 Sachsen-Anhalt Monitor, 15 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds even think that dictatorship is a better form of government in times of need. Democratic ties have been weakened over the course of time, particularly among younger people.2
This is due to the rather insulated population, especially in rural and provincial areas. Here the population is more homogeneous than in big cities. Social interaction is structured mainly in a familial and neighbourly way. Living together is characterized by tight social control and pressure to conform to a social behaviour considered as “normal”. This leads to stigmatisation and resistance to lifestyles considered “strange”: including those of immigrants; people presumed to be of higher social classes; and groups of people (like punks and homeless people) who don’t fit within these categories. There are also heterogeneous influences from outside.
Right-wing extremists take advantage at this point. What they have to offer is seen as particularly attractive where other opportunities are lacking. Teenagers, in particular, are taken in by the youth culture right-wing extremism and its world of music, clothing, sports, parties and action. The demonstration of power and intimidation also becomes important because through these means it is much easier for a right-wing clique of youths or a neo-Nazi group to dominate the streets in a village than in a bigger city. Adults avoid these groups and other young people keep out of their way. The police presence tends to be marginal. There is often a lack of resistance by civil society at large. All of this leads frequently to a constant menacing situation, especially for non-right wing young people, migrants and civil society proponents.
Parties, Democracy and Right-wing Extremism
A democratic community needs protagonists who are committed and capable, and who are not only concerned with their own affairs, but feel a sense of collective responsibility and take a bottom-up approach. However, in Saxony-Anhalt one can almost talk of a “democratic recession”, embodied in a low voter turnout and a decreasing satisfaction with democracy. Democracy is not considered an essential part in the design of one’s own life.
“All in all, among the citizens of Saxony-Anhalt there prevails the distinct feeling that individual’s personal concerns get virtually no attention from political leaders.”3
The slow-down of democracy can become the strength of frankly anti-democratically aligned parties like the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD)4. The NPD barely failed to reach the election threshold of five percent (missing only 4,500 votes) to obtain a seat in the state parliament of Saxony-Anhalt in 2011, but it is represented in county councils and municipal councils. The NPD refuses to accept parliamentary democracy and argues for a dictatorial political system with parties, representatives and social organisations of weak political clout. Through its parliamentary work and its local activities, the neo-Nazi party affirms a normalisation of right-wing extremist views, as they impact on daily life.
Prima facie the situation in Saxony-Anhalt seems to be bizarre: despite a very small number of migrants, the federal state still takes a leading position concerning racial and right-wing motivated criminal offences (hate crimes). Statistically, every two or three days a politically right-wing motivated act of violence takes place; it can even be assumed that based on high concealed crime figures the extent of right-wing violence in reality may even be significantly higher. Besides racially motivated acts of violence, other crimes include right-wing motivated acts of violence against politically alternative adolescents and adults and – more and more – against politically dissenting people.
“So neo-Nazis have again and again taken oppressive action against so-called “political adversaries” in relation with deployments . For example, an arson attack on the autonomic centre in Salzleben was committed in the eve of a Neo-Nazi demonstration in May 20115.
Eisleben, Oschersleben, Mücheln or Halberstadt – these are names of places in Saxony-Anhalt that in 2012 have become, in the German media and consequently the public’s perception, allegories for everyday racism, for intolerance and an ideology of unequal value, examined by the sociologist Wilhelm Heitmeyer from Bielefeld under the term “group focused enmity”6.
Xenophobia, anti-semitism, homophobia, sexism, islamophobia7, racism, discrimination of the homeless, those who are unemployable and others are different aspects of this ideology. Heitmeyer’s analyses not only focus on the level at which they operate but also on the element of attitude.
A wall of silence is often to be found, especially in rural areas: maybe because of fear, maybe because of uncertainty and shame, maybe because of a tacit approval, ignorance, lack of awareness or because of a preoccupation with “the good reputation of the town”. The wall of silence shows itself through apathy or an absent solidarity during racist and hatred fuelled attacks.
In addition to right-wing dominance in the streets, the lack of commitment to democracy in rural areas aids a normalisation of this extremist behaviour. Where people can hardly be found, where they are no longer organized in local associations, offerings for extreme right-wing people appear. These people also get involved, on a voluntary basis, with the local football club or the voluntary fire brigade. Here they are welcomed as “quite normal” active members. Ignorance of right-wing manifestations and an absent consciousness lead to an underestimation of the risks of such people’s involvement on everyday democratic life. In this way, the plan of right-wing extremist strategists becomes successful: appearing on-site, demonstrating at the grass-roots political level and actively looking among the people for acceptance and support for their own concerns. So, for example in rural regions, the NPD has offered advice on social concerns, help completing applications for social benefits and provided assistance to children and teenagers with their homework. In spring 2006 members of the right-wing extremist “Free Comradeships”8 took advantage of the disastrous flooding of the Elbe and attracted public interest by supporting the building and strengthening of dams.
“Struggle for the Parliaments”
Contesting elections at local and regional levels plays a key role. Through its representatives, the NPD has the opportunity to show its face. For many years the party has put into practice a plan of silent and local politics-based promotion to the state parliaments of the federal states. This strategy includes election campaigns with a great number of posters pasted up around the place, especially in the state’s rural and provincial areas.
“The choice of the content of election campaigns by the extreme right wing focuses on highly emotional and polarising topics which draw reactions from the public. In doing so neo-Nazi proponents seek affirmative feedback, for example by taking child maltreatment as a discussion topic or giving a social form to local politics.9”
On 7 November 2010 the citizens of the small town of Laucha an der Unstrut had to elect a new mayor. Among the three candidates was Lutz Battke, who has been actively involved in the NPD for years. Receiving 24% of the votes, he took second place. The success of the NPD in spite of its neo-Nazi objectives is primarily based on the local entrenchment of its candidates. For example: Lutz Battke, born in 1958, has been the chimney sweep in the Laucha district since 1987. For years he worked voluntarily for the football club BSC 99 and was a trainer for children and young people until August 2010. Locally he is appreciated as an active citizen. Many people showed their support for Battke when his extreme right-wing attitudes were publicly discussed after a club player attacked an adolescent and insulted him in an anti semitic way. It was only after strong pressure was applied – in particular by the German Olympic Sports Confederation and the State Sports Confederation of Saxony-Anhalt – that the BSC 99 removed Battke from his position as trainer.
Civil Society Initiatives
But not everywhere is the situation as described above. We can’t keep quiet about the countless activities of all those who get involved with democracy and human dignity, who courageously take action and raise their voices against contempt for mankind and neo-Nazism. In the federal state, small and greater plantlets of civil society are prospering: there are democratic networks, activity groups, single persons, trade unions, church congregations, confederations and associations who actively take action in favour of a democratic society. For years, anti-Fascist groups have been reading up on neo-Nazism and organizing various events. Groups have been formed to grant relief to fugitives. In self-organized youth centres young people meet with sub-cultural, not right-wing, alternatives to Nazi music and association, especially in urban areas. When neo-Nazis organize demonstrations in many places forces of civil society disturb or block them peacefully: whether during protests and resistance to neo-Nazi demonstrations, or organizing street festivals in favour of democracy and against right-wing approaches; whether working in associations and confederations or actively shaping society; within many different forms of action people within the federal state assert their democratic rights with moral courage. Meanwhile, the government of Saxony-Anhalt has also acknowledged the discussion on right-wing extremism as an essential challenge and has approved a federal state program for democracy.
“Where – as shown by the experiences coming from consultation and education activities in the last years –democracy is strong and where responsible citizens actively shape and animate a democratic community the scope of right-wing extremist political offers is limited10.”
The association “Miteinander” (“Together – network in favour of democracy and a cosmopolitan approach in Saxony-Anhalt”)11 is a private agency that offers involved, competent and networked education and consultation in favour of democracy and a cosmopolitan approach in Saxony-Anhalt, and that realizes ground-breaking educational projects with a prototype function.
As a network the association has been trying for many years to contribute to a dynamic democracy in Saxony-Anhalt and beyond. Miteinander e.V. is committed to: youth and adult education; to supporting communities; to the investigation and analysis of neo-Nazi activities; providing advice to civil society and local representatives; and to supporting victims of right-wing violence. Within these activities TheaterDialog12 has for years been an important partner in terms of cooperation and networking, especially on behalf of artistic and theatre pedagogy related projects. TheaterDialog was founded in 2004 following the project “DOMINO – moral courage in the spotlight”13. In October 2002, DOMINO invited Augusto Boal to come to the region and generated initial interest in the spread of the Theatre of the Oppressed in Saxony-Anhalt. Today, Miteinander e.V. and TheaterDialog work together on projects in various areas, e.g. in schools, youth and adult criminal justice and by providing further education for other interested parties.
“The public discussion on right-wing extremism usually fluctuates between belittlement and hysteria: phases with serious and violent right-wing criminal acts, or obvious political provocations of the extreme right wing producing only passing mention switch to phases with emotional and personalized public debates on the forms of right-wing extremism, leaving the impression that it is an omnipresent danger. Neither of them is the case. In fact, the activities of “Miteinander – (“Together – network in favour of democracy and a cosmopolitan approach in Saxony-Anhalt e.V.”) show that above and beyond spectacular events, the everyday occurrence and normality of right-wing extremism pose the real challenge for democracy.14
Thanks to the European Union support programme and in line with the project “FRATT – Fighting Racism Through Theatre” both partners have the opportunity to work further together, strengthening democracy and human dignity by building networks to strengthen the forces of civil society in Saxony-Anhalt. We have, therefore, decided to focus in particular on the issue of everyday right-wing extremism using, as an example, the fictitious small town of X-leben.
X-leben shall become prettier
Aschersleben, Oschersleben, Haldensleben
Ottersleben, Barleben, Bitterfeld
Wolmirstedt, Schönebeck, Sandersleben
Eisleben, Hadmersleben, Alsleben15
X-leben – a small town in Saxony-Anhalt. Laura, Kathi and Paul want to make a difference and open a cultural centre. It’s called “Calypso” and films will be shown here, readings will take place as well as Capoeira, dance – and other workshops – organized by young people for young people. Its neighbours, Achim Fritsche and his wife Gabi, don’t like it at all. They are members of a neo-Nazi party that is trying to organize young people in a “free comradeship” set-up, and have other plans for X-leben. To most of the citizens of X-leben the couple appear friendly and polite; in contrast, the young people on the adjoining property have to endure menacing behaviour. Via flyers, and through personal conversations, Achim Fritsche invites the inhabitants of the small town to a “day of action for a clean X-leben”. And most of them come along: Hilde Winter, an old woman accompanied by her friend Marianne Thomalla; Bernadette Zeist, a shopowner; Sybille and Thomas Meyer, a couple in the neighbourhood; Jacky, an apprentice in the bakery, who brings bread. They all get a broom and a special T-shirt produced just for the occasion, and clean up the marketplace of the small town together. Maik, one of the young men from Fritsche`s comradeship group, arranges for the distribution of the brooms and supervises the task. Even the press, represented by the local reporter Schmitz and a photographer, take part: proudly Achim Fritsche gives them an interview and, together with his wife, is photographed in front of the sweeping citizens of X-leben. The very next day a large article with photos appears in the newspaper and causes quite a stir in the small town. At the same time, the morning following the day of action, Laura, Kathi und Paul discover that their cultural centre has been set on fire: the Calypso signboard is burnt and the garden is devastated. Then Achim Fritsche has his big coming-out: Maik hangs black, white and red 16election posters with Fritsche`s portrait and big-lettered slogans “We are cleaning up” and “NVU – National people`s Union”17. Fritsche announces that he will run for mayor at the upcoming local elections as a representative of the NVU. Again he invites the press and is photographed in front of the election posters together with his wife and some citizens of X-leben. The citizens of X-leben are quite surprised.
Paul (breaking the silence): I can`t believe it!
Kathi/Laura (reading aloud what is written on the posters): Achim Fritsche? We are
cleaning up? National People`s Union?
Achim Fritsche: Yes, I am running for office. I want to become mayor of X-leben.
Gabi Fritsche lays her hand on his back and smiles
Sybille Meyer applauds.
Thomas Meyer: Achim, I will cast my vote in your favour!
Marianne Thomalla: Mr Fritsche, that is stretching it too far!
Sybille Meyer: Why? We are living in a democracy. It is a legal party.
Marianne Thomalla: Sybille – this is a Nazi party.
Bernadette Zeist: I really don’t know what I should think about it.
Hilde Winter: I really don’t understand any more what’s going on here.
Laura ( speaking to Jacky): Don’t you understand what’s happening here? Say something!
Jacky: What should I say? Shit…
Paul (appalled, looks at Fritsche, then at the people from X-leben): You really want to vote for him? He organized the attack on our cultural centre.
Fritsche is smiling, he beckons to Maik
Tearing at his jacket, Maik pulls Paul out of the scene and so silences him
How the play was generated
On the road in Saxony-Anhalt – country roads, fields, meadows, mining wastelands, ,villages, small towns. Just behind the city limits sign, election posters of a Nazi party hang on lamp posts. The church clock is about to strike twelve times. Two streets away children are playing in the school yard. A pizzeria has opened. The former cinema has been closed for years. The community centre glitters with its new façade. The first warm shafts of sunlight are again enticing the people to come out of their houses. An elderly lady is waiting at the bus stop. Two young men enter a car and drive to the next supermarket. Behind the apartment buildings is a former factory site whose gates have been closed for years. Most of the people in the small town know each other more or less. They can tell stories if they are asked to. They do not talk about some things. They look at each other and keep quiet.18
X-leben is a small town that could be anywhere in Saxony-Anhalt (and not only there). In March 2011, a few days before the elections of the state parliament, we started a several day tour of investigation and visited small towns in Saxony-Anhalt: Weißenfels, Hohenmölsen, Freyburg, Laucha, Halberstadt, Quedlinburg. We got further into the question what impact the activities of neo-Nazi parties like the NPD or other right-wing extremist groups have on everyday life in the towns. We filmed and took photos of landscapes, everyday situations and the massive NPD election campaign. We had conversations and held interviews in front of the bakery or in the pub, in people’s living-rooms or in youth centres. Some of the stories left a deep and lasting impression on us: the alternative youth centre that has been attacked several times, and that a right-wing neighbour let campaign commercials be filmed in favour of neo-Nazi parties on his property. The master baker who, representing the NPD, recently became counsellor of the town, whose citizens now have to choose where to buy their bread. The chimney sweep of the district and football trainer who everybody knows; who is now to be seen on campaign posters of the NPD as a candidate for the state parliament. The mayor of a village, originally elected as a social-democratic candidate; he became an NPD candidate for the state parliament elections after an NPD party convention was held in the region. The investigative trip helped in reviewing and determining the detail of the project’s content; its results in the form of video and audio footage later on gave us ideas for the design of the play.
At the same time the search began for actors who were at least 18 years old, with or without stage experience, who were interested in the topic and who wanted, through theatre, to deal with the problem of neo-Nazism and the widespread silence on the topic. The search was not conducted publicly but took place using personal acquaintances, friends of friends and networks. In August 2011 rehearsals were able to begin with a group of 14 benevolent and highly motivated actors. After an initial workshop lasting several days, up until the premiere at the beginning of October, the group met once a week and twice for rehearsal weekends at the “Theatrale” in Halle/Saale.
Results from the research trip and the actors’ own experiences were used in the development of the play “X-leben shall become prettier”. Texts on the topic of neo-Nazism in everyday life were read and discussed within the group19. The actors had got to know each other through various exercises and games taken from the Theatre of the Oppressed by Augusto Boal, which were also to be used later in the course of rehearsals. After the first rehearsals, pictures and improvisations lead to the first scene fragments that were introduced step by step into a “golden thread” by the artistic director. This lead to first versions of a storyline, which were developed more and more as new ideas arose during the process of rehearsals. The actors developed the characters: the inhabitants of the small town of X-leben. At the same time, the music was composed, the costumes arranged and the stage setting designed and built. The film team made a production video that could be seen on stage during the play.
On 6 October 2011 the time had finally come: after rehearsals lasting three months the premiere of “X-leben shall become prettier place” took place in the Theatrale. An audience of more than three hundred saw the play in Halle during three performances. It was still a “home-grown affair”, an animated Forum with lots of ideas from the audience provided a test-run for the tour in the small cities. With about 230,000 inhabitants, Halle/Saale is the greatest town in Saxony-Anhalt. The following tour with seven more performances took the group and its play to the rural and provincial milieu of the federal state – a journey to the world where most of the people from Saxony-Anhat live.20
What should we do? Experiences in the Forum
Wanzleben, Quedlinburg, Halberstadt, Kalbe/Milbe, Salzwedel, these are the names of the townships, where “X-leben shall become prettier” was performed in October and November 2011 – all of them small towns in rural areas of Saxony-Anhalt. The seven performances outside of Halle took place in the morning in schools or in the evening in cultural and youth centres. As usual with the Forum-Theatre, the end of the 45-minute play (here the candidature of Achim Fritsche representing the Nazi party “NVU”) couldn’t remain this way. The ending needed to be upbeat, encouraging dialogue and exchange – a thrilling challenge, especially concerning a topic which is often covered by a veil of silence. Problems with neo-Nazism and racism in one’s own town are all too frequently hushed up. He who breaks the silence runs the risk of being considered a whistle-blower. Especially in tourist regions (due to nice landscapes and/or interesting architecture, of which there are many in Saxony-Anhalt), where the fear of damaging their reputations and losing tourists is great.
Forum-Theatre, however, provides quite the opposite of silence. A Forum-Theatre play is like a question that provokes dialogue and communication. Forum-Theatre means not just accepting a situation as it was portrayed. After the performance of the first version of the play the forum starts: the moderator called “Joker” or “Curinga” turns to the audience and invites them to bring new ideas. These ideas are not only talked about, but actively tried out: people from the audience come on stage, take on a role and show, by acting the scene, how it could work another way.21
Halberstadt, in a youth centre, one of the evening performances of “X-leben shall become prettier”. The play has been performed, the discussion with the audience has started. Soon it becomes clear that there is a particularly high interest in the scene when Achim Fritsche personally invites the inhabitants of X-leben to participate in his “Day of action to clean-up X-leben”. Paul, one of the young people from Calypso comes along and hears a conversation about the day of action. For him it is clear: he has better things to do and doesn`t want to get involved. The day of action will take place without him but with many of the other citizens of X-leben. “I am interested in the moment when the people get the news of Fritsche`s day of action,” comments one of the audience members during the discussion after the play, “In my opinion surely three people wouldn`t have participated if the three teenagers had given the information that the purpose wasn`t cleanliness but political agitation”. Soon afterwards he stays on the stage, the scene is replayed – this time with him in the role of Paul.
Paul: Where is it coming from?
Thomas Meyer: From Achim!
Paul: Well, but the purpose is not that the pavements get swept. The question is cleanliness…
Sybille Meyer: Exactly!
Paul: …pureness. Everybody should attach importance to sweeping the pavements here and not take notice of what’s happening inside the houses.
Very soon, these and other critical remarks coming from Paul about Fritsche`s day of action passionate debates among the citizens of X-leben. Meanwhile Fritsche`s “day of action to clean-up X-leben” loses somehow part of its supposed normality and naturalness in the small town.
The Forum following the play “X-leben shall become prettier” is about various possibilities to question attitudes taken for normal by people and to try out behaviour strategies that can break the silence. Within this frame ideas and behaviour approaches that are important in real life can arise. A member of the audience – just after he had replaced Paul during the forum in Halberstadt and had stridently warned the citizens of X-leben that the culture centre “Calypso” was being threatened by Fritsche – said as well in an interview at end of the performance:
If you take a play on stage and give people the opportunity to really change something on the stage – and it is actually changed on the stage – you give them, in my opinion, a good impulse so that they can maybe assume this in their everyday life.22
A teacher of a vocational school from Quedlinburg who had come with her pupils to the performance of “X-leben shall become prettier” said at the end of the forum:
It seemed to me that the attention was very high and that impulses were given, that one can intervene, that one should intervene and that’s what I really wish for my pupils that they get acquainted with behaviour approaches.23
Kalbe/Milde at the cultural building. The play was shown, the forum started. The discussion deals about the moment at the end of the play, when Fritsche announces he is running for office for the “NVU”. Some of the citizens of X-leben are enthusiastic, some shocked, some show indiference. What should we do? “The other ones could also run for the post”, says a teenager from the audience. But who out of them? “The grandma”. He comes on the stage, puts the hat of Hilde Winter on and plays her role – the pensioner Mrs. Winter becomes Mr. Winter.
Paul: Mr. Winter, Could you have imagined it? Achim, a member of a Nazi party?
Mr. Winter: No, definitely not. I`ll run against Mr. Fritsche.
Paul: What? You want to run for the post?
Mr. Winter: Yes, I`ll contest.
Paul: But Mr. Winter, at your age!
Mr. Winter: I`ll do everything to stop this Nazi party!
Journalist Schmitz: Mr. Winter, I find this idea very exciting. Schmitz is my name. May I ask you two or three questions? Why do you want to run for office?
Mr Winter: Because this Nazi party hast to be stopped, because it shouldn`t exist any longer.
Schmitz: And what party are you representing?
Mr. Winter: Well, I`m going to found my own party.
Schmitz: Okay. Well this could be something worth. And you are all supporting that?
Paul, Marianne Thomalla, Laura, Jacky ( all together?): Yes!
During one of the performances at the Theatrale in Halle the journalist is replaced. A young member of the audience comesto the stage and replaces Mr. Schmitz the very day after the day of action, just when the attack at the youth centre was public and Fritsche announces he is running for mayor:
Journalist Schmitz: But that is a real foul play – there has been an arson attack! In this case we have to investigate, we have to go to the bottom of things!
Sybille Meyer: Yes, but … our day of action has been nice too!
Schmitz: But imagine: First the culture centre here is burned down and someday – who knows what else will be burned down?
Salzwedel, a morning in the gym of a vocational school. Bernadette Zeist is a shop owner at X-leben who sells couture. She has recently moved to town and is very popular because of her fashionable appearance and the attractive offers of her shop. When the others ask her about her opinion on the “day of action to clean/up X-leben”, she replies: “Yes, I had these flyers from the Fritsches, but I wasn`t really sure whether I would go there”. She is uncertain and quite sceptical. A vocational pupil comes on the stage and plays the role of a shop owner:
Sybille Meyer: Did you actually hear about the day of action, about Fritsche?
Mr. Zeist: Well, I`m totally against this. I won`t take part in this.
Hilde Winter: Do you have something against Achim or you just don`t want to clean-up?
Mr. Zeist: I don`t have anything against Achim but against his project, I don`t approve it.
Hilde Winter: Oh, do you think there is something else in it than meets the eye?
Mr. Zeist: Yes, I think so.
The vocational pupil receives a lot of applause for his intervention. In the following discussion about the new version of this scene a teacher raises her hand:
I think that the owner of a boutique in such a small town risks a lot when he is positioning himself politically. It should’nt be underestimated. If he openly tells what he minds, he risks, of course, to lose a great part of the customers who have a different opinion. Who can afford this nowadays?
The vocational pupil who has just been on the stage replies:
Well, now f I know my clients – and we can see here ( in the play ), they were absolutely confident of my outfit – I think they would have agreed to a hundred percent with me.
During the Forum-Theatre performances of “X-leben shall become prettier” in Halle, Wanzleben, Quedlinburg, Halberstadt, Kalbe/Milde and Salzwedel members of the audience repeatedly came on stage and played their ideas to change the situation – a special experience also for the members of the drama group. The resulting play was like a question to the audience which was answered in different ways at the different locations.
It was all about behaviour and pragmatic actions. An actor in the drama group says in the interview:
It is fascinating for me to use theatre not only for enactment but also for intervention – to use it as a possibility to try out situations.24
In the best case, ascertained behaviour approaches arise which can be taken along in real life. Another actor in “X-leben shall become prettier” is optimistic:
I have learned here that an art form like the theatre can indeed also change realities. When the audience becomes active and co-creates on the stage and co-rehearses for the reality, then it will also work out – in real life.25
The relation to the concrete reality on site is always a challenge to Forum-Theatre. It was an important fact for us, – whenever possible – not to have ephemeral performances on site.They should instead be able to give fresh impetus to further processes. Therefore, most of the performances of “X-leben shall become prettier” were held on purpose in towns where network partners of “Miteinander e.V.” were already involved.
How it went on
Thanks to the long standing network prepared by Miteinander e.V. in order to strengthen civil society structures and to the established cooperation partners on site, we succeeded in setting in those impulses coming from the play and the Forum of “X-leben shall become prettier” weeks and months after the performance. In some of the towns they were even exemplary enlarged. In fact, the requirements and the necessities to proceed after the project were as different as the suggestions out of the forum: in terms of post-processing workshops, expositions, readings, further trainings, political discussion groups, and performances of the project documentary film “Forum-Theatre – from watching to acting”26 which was also sent to the respective towns and cooperating partners on site for further use. One of our aims in this sense was to strengthen our partners on site in their committed work for democracy and beyond the performances of Forum-Theatre: on the one hand within theatre educational and reflective post-processing workshops with the people who had attended to the performance. On the other hand, we wanted to reach further interested people on site by means of additional activities and to encourage them in reflecting and acting.
So few months after the performances of “X-leben shall become prettier” we came for example back to the two vocational schools in Quedlinburg and Salzwedel and worked with the pupils within four-day lasting post-processing workshops. Therefore we also used footage from the project documentation “Forum-Theatre – from watching to acting” that opened in the first part of the workshop a re-encounter with essential moments of the play and showing ideas which the members of the audience at totally different locations had used to change the storyline during the Forum. The presentation of the film and a dialogue with the pupils on neo-Nazism and everyday life was followed by the second part: a short practical workshop in the classroom dealing with real experiences of the pupils with the topic neo-Nazism. After a warm-up stadium with practices and games of Augusto Boal`s Theatre of the Oppressed, the participants worked in two groups, exchanged on real situations they had experienced and illustrated them in freeze frames. These were analysed during rehearsals and developed into short scenes that were also changed within a “Mini-Forum” (in class). We were astonished to see that the pupils could directly tie on the storyline of “X-leben shall become prettier” and link it with their own reality. It was interesting to notice that the situations brought in by the pupils were, almost without exception, about physical violence27 against people who are stigmatised for not being considered normal or for being different (for instance, migrants, alternative teenagers, sprayers), an aspect which was rather suggested in the play. Most of the pupils seemed to be familiar with such situations of violence in their everyday life.
It was impressing to see how the pupils even months after the performance of “X-leben shall become prettier” remembered the play and its complex of themes and that this experience could be the basis of a short but intensive theatre workshop. We could even work further on with a class of the vocational school in Salzwedel: The class participated in a four-day lasting workshop of Forum-Theatre. The last day this class acted on the stage, presented its scenes to another class and looked together for changes in the Forum.28
Another example of the theatre educational post processing is the advanced education meeting “Try out changes – an approach to the theatre educational work concerning right –wing extremism”, that we organized after our performances in the Altmark. We were helped by professionals from the organisation “Social network for open-minded and democratic social work in the district Altmark Salzwedel” which is supported by Miteinander e.V..
But we also seized on the impulses of Forum-Theatre performances in other forms not involved with theatre: In the context of FRATT, for example different events to face up to neo-Nazism and racism took place in Halle. In the Foyer of the Thalia theatre, for example, an exposition by Ralf Jesse “Black box deportation” was shown during three weeks. In the framework programme different information and discussion groups on the topics racism, migration and neo-Nazism were held, for example the lecture “Europe`s greatest minority –problematic nature of the Roma’s and Sinti’s deportations”, the reading “Coldland – a collection”29 and a discussion group on “Practical experiences in Saxony-Anhalt – Reality and resistance”.
Attempt of a conclusion
Looking back, we noticed that the rehearsals, the tour and the performances demanded a great commitment of all involved parties. The actors, working voluntarily, participated extraordinarily with great ideas and creativity. They gave the play heart, soul and body. All involved parties had to bring in a lot of energy, time and resources – but we think: It was worth doing! During the almost two years of continuous work we succeeded in setting impulses for a discussion about everyday right-wing extremism and racism at different locations in Saxony-Anhalt. In the project`s framework, at the beginning we called it “Breaking the culture of silence” we indeed succeded at different contexts and for at least some time in breaking the silence and iniciating a political discussion. Throughout the theatre medium the performances of the play “X-leben shall become prettier” and the following forum could in a particular way point out the creeping normalisation of extreme right-wing and neo-Nazi activities.
The provincial reality of X-leben was focused in the play as under a burning glass and put to discussion on stage. The audience is invited to look upon the proceedings critically from outside and get moved somehow in a partly fictional and partly real level: on the one hand, X-leben, is not their own small town. On the other hand, the play allows to see parallels to the own life and experiences which are real and tangible. Obviously a lot of people at the different locations indeed did so. But the main idea is that Forum-Theatre doesn`t stop with the description of the situation: With the help of the audience the reality in X-leben was changed manifoldly with more and more innovative ideas. Children, youths and adults cut in on the storyline, came on stage with their ideas of changes, played a role and gave the previously shown story a new direction. With newer and newer ideas the scopes of action of the inhabitants of X-leben were enlarged, wonderfully documented in the film of Anke Tornow and Hannes Bessler. In most places, during the forum, we succeeded in moving the audience to an exciting dialogue about possible changes whose results could be tried out immediately on stage. Lots of people even after the end of the event continued discussing about the performance, the forum and their own everyday life. We know from our own experiences that ideas created and tried out in the “protected area” of a Forum-Theatre performance can, in fact, trigger reaction in real life. We really hope that some people were encouraged during the performance and the forum not to stay apparently powerless in front of extreme right-wing activities in real life.
We considered important to start post-processing workshops and follow-up events with the performance and the forum of “X-leben shall become prettier”. Indeed, there is some more potential, but due to capacity problems, only post-processing activities were exemplary held. Thanks to the events, we organized and witnessed in different places, we have strengthened our opinion: Forum-Theatre can exist single-handed and show effects within a performance or a workshop. But Forum-Theatre has also a huge potential, which has not been exploited yet, to initiate processes and to give impulses on very different activities and a long lasting continuous discussion on the particular topic. Therefore reliable structures, committed people, established cooperation partners on site, persuasion work and long-term planning certainty are necessary.
Working on the project was particularly enriching thanks to its integration within the European frame. We could use Forum-Theatre of Augusto Boal together with the cooperation partners Giolli Cooperativa Sociale (Italy), Pa’tothom (Spain) and En’tract (France) to face racism and other forms of group xenophobia. Every single partner enlightened in his work different aspects of racism, discrimination and right-wing extremism in his own context. The exchange of experiences and the possibility to have a continuous contact to European partners working in other places, on similar topics was existential and more than fruitful for our work. The possibility of interactive learning was shown in a most impressive way at the “VII Encuentro Internacional de Teatro y Educación” organized by Pa’tothom in Barcelona in October 2011, where we could witness the activities of each other in workshops.
The shocking actuality of right-wing extremism, neo-Nazism and racism is quite shown by the disclosures about the right-wing terrorist “National socialist Underground” (NSU), whose existence was discovered at the end of 201130 after our play had already been completed.
The series of at least ten murders committed by the NSU shows only the tip of the iceberg concerning extremist right-wing violence in Germany31. The systematic underestimation of right-wing extremism in Germany is demonstrated by the fact that the terror group could act in the underground without any trouble and supported by extreme right-wing circles during almost 13 years, that police and intelligence service failed in their investigations in such a scandalous way and that social indignation about the murders started only when a right-wing terrorist background could not be denied anymore.32 The long-standing belittlement and trivialisation of right-wing extremism is also established, where the action of the play “X-leben shall become prettier” takes place: in everyday life. There is still a lot to be done…
Ricarda Milke, Katrin Wolf, Till Baumann
Halle (Saale), August 2012
Bibliography: * Amadeu Antonio Stiftung: Das Kartell der Verharmloser. Wie deutsche Behörden systematisch rechtextremen Alltagsterror bagatellisieren, Berlin 2012. * apabiz – Antifaschistisches Pressearchiv und Bildungszentrum Berlin e.V.: monitor, Ausgaben 53-55, Berlin 2011/2012. * Baumann, Till/Lammers, Katharina/Wolf, Katrin: Theater im Kontext antirassistischer Pädagogik, in: Stender, Wolfram/Rohde, Georg/Weber, Thomas (Hrsg.): Interkulturelle und antirassistische Bildungsarbeit, Franfurt (Main) 2003, S. 199-217. * Baumann, Till: Von der Politisierung des Theaters zur Theatralisierung der Politik, Stuttgart 2001. * Boal, Augusto: Theater der Unterdrückten, Frankfurt (Main) 1989. * Boal, Augusto: Games for Actors and Non-Actors, London 2002. * Geisler, Astrid/Schultheis, Christoph: Heile Welten. Rechter Alltag in Deutschland, München 2011. * Heitmeyer, Wilhelm (Hrsg.): Deutsche Zustände, Folgen 1-10, Frankfurt (Main) 2002-2011. * Holtmann, Everhard/Jaeck, Tobias/Völkl, Kerstin: Sachsen-Anhalt-Monitor 2009. Werte und politisches Bewußtsein 20 Jahre nach dem Systemumbruch, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, im Auftrag der Landeszentrale für Politische Bildung, Halle (Saale) 2009. * Krampitz, Karsten/Liske, Markus/Präkels, Manja (Hrsg.): Kaltland. Eine Sammlung, Berlin 2011. * Miteinander e.V./Arbeitsstelle Rechtsextremismus: HINTERGRÜNDE. Neonazismus und Demokratiefeindlichkeit in Sachsen-Anhalt, Magdeburg/Halle (Saale) 2011. * Miteinander e.V.: NEWSLETTER – Impulse für eine lebendige Demokratie, Nr. 31/32, Frühjahr/Sommer 2011. * Miteinander e.V.: Informationen der mobilen Beratung für Opfer rechter Gewalt, Nr. 37, Frühjahr 2012. * Miteinander e.V.: Impulse für eine lebendige Demokratie, ein Film von Anke Tornow, Halle (Salle) 2009 (DVD). * Miteinander e.V./TheaterDialog: FORUMTHEATER – vom zuschauen zum handeln, ein Film von Anke Tornow und Hannes Beßler, Halle (Saale) 2012 (DVD). * Odierna, Simone/Letsch, Fritz (Hrsg.): Theater macht Politik. Forumtheater nach Augusto Boal, Neu-Ulm 2006.
1 Citation from our recordings during the investigation tour in Saxony-Anhalt March 2011
2 Miteinander 2011, see Holtmann/Jaeck/Völkl 2009, p.53f.
3Holtmann/Jaeck/Völkl 2009, S.43
4 The NPD was founded in 1964 in order to bring together right-wing extremist groups. Today, with about 7,500 members, it is the most significant right-wing extremist organisation in Germany. The party advances an anti-pluralistic concept of society and rejects parliamentary democracy in favour of a dictatorial, ethnically uniform racial political system. It argues aggressive racial and anti-Semitic points of view and takes a complacent position towards National Socialism. Since the beginning of the 90s the NPD has been a proponent of a “concept of three pillars”: “struggle for the streets, struggle for the heads, struggle for the parliaments” and affirms its position as a rightful activist-orientated party. In doing so the NPD opened itself up to the militant neo-Nazi spectrum.
5 Miteinander e.V., information on mobile consultancy of victims of right-wing violence, No.37, spring 2012
6 see also Heitmeyer 2002 -2011
7 Unlike Heitmeyer we normally do not use terms ending with “-phobia” (“Islamophobia”, “homophobia”) because we don`t want to use terminology that mixes up ideologies and political approaches with illnesses.
8 Neo-Nazi groups (“freie Nationalisten“) call themselves “Kameradschaft“ for lack of a legally defined form of organisation (party, association) – trying on the one hand to avoid a possible prohibition by party or corporate law and on the other hand to operate in a flexible and quick way. These groups are self-governed but very well connected with each other and very dynamic. They are the link between youth culture and party politics, for example of the NPD.
9 Miteinander e.V./ section right-wing extremism 2011, p.29
10 Interview with Anke Tornow in Miteinander e.V. 2009. Hans-Jochen Tschiche is chairman of the association Miteinander e.V., civil rights activist, member of the order of merit Federal Cross of Merit First Class and was from 1994 up to 1998 chairman by seniority of the parliament of Saxony-Anhalt
13 www.domino-x.de/domino, compare Baumann/Lammers/Wolf 2003.
14 Hans-Jochen Tschiche, chairman of Miteinander e.V. , in: Miteinander e.V./section right-wing extremism 2011, p. 8
15 citation from the introit of the play “X-leben shall become prettier?”. “Aschersleben, Oschersleben etc.”, are existing names of small towns in Saxony-Anhalt, X-leben is the name of the small town where the play is set. Citations from the text of the play and from transcriptions of performances by Forum-Theatre are not separately indicated hereafter.
16 Black-white-red were the coulours of the swastika flag of the NSDAP in the 30s and 40s. Until today this combination of colours is used by neo-Nazi groups and parties, for example the NPD.
17 NVU – National People`s Union” is the invented name of Achim Fritsche`s party in the play. Resemblances with the names of existing neo-Nazi parties exist and are not unintended. But surprising, and at the time of the development and appearance of the play not foreseeable, was the similarity to the neo-Nazi terror organization “NSU” (National socialist Underground”), whose existence was to become known in 2011.
18 Citation from our recordings during the research tour in Saxony-Anhalt, March 2011
19 e.g. Geisler/Schultheis 2011
20 And that also many of the actors know from their own lives
21 Comp. Boal 1989, Boal 2002, Odierna/Letsch 2006 und Baumann 2001
22 Interview with Anke Tornow/Hannes Beßler in Miteinander e.V./TheaterDialog 2012
23 Interview with Anke Tornow/Hannes Beßler in Miteinander e.V./TheaterDialog 2012
24 Interview with Anke Tornow/Hannes Beßler in Miteinander e.V./TheaterDialog 2012
25 Interview with Anke Tornow/Hannes Beßler in Miteinander e.V./TheaterDialog 2012
26 Miteinander e.V./TheaterDialog 2012
27 The attack at the youth centre „Calypso“ plays an important role in the play but is not performed on stage.
28 We undertook the workshop Forum-Theatre together with our colleague Mirella Galbiatti.
29 Krampitz/Liske/Präkels 2011.
30 Comp. apabiz – Antifaschistisches Pressearchiv und Bildungszentrum e.V. 2011/2012.
31 As announced by Amadeu Antonio foundation and the editors of MUT between 1990 and 2011 182 people died as a result of extremistic right-wing violence, comp. www.mut-gegen-rechte-gewalt.de
32 Comp. Amadeu Antonio Stiftung 2012.
THE ITALIAN EXPERIENCE OF GIOLLI COOPERATIVE AMONG THE MANY INSECURITIES
by Massimiliano Filoni, Roberto Mazzini, Maria Monteleone Dumas, Giovanni Badalotti and Rosanna Pippa
5.1 The Context: a few Data on Immigration in Italy
According to the data released by the Italian Institute of Statistics (ISTAT) (http://www.istat.it/it/archivio/39726), updated as at 1st January 2011, the foreigners living in Italy are 4,570,317 and the rate of foreign nationals compared to all the (Italian and foreign) residents is 7.5%. 86.5% of foreigners live in North and Central Italy, 13.5% in the South.
In Emilia-Romagna, the total of foreign residents is 500,597.
In the different provinces concerned by the project, the situation is as follows: Reggio Emilia 69,060 or 13% of total residents, Parma 55,069 or 12.5%, Mantua 53,262 or 12.8%, Milan 382,490 or 12.1%, and Lucca 28,405 or 7.2%.
5.2 Why this Project? The Phenomenon of Insecurity
When we presented the project in 2010, the theme of insecurity in Italy was a hot topic, associated – especially from a mass media perspective – with the equation between the presence of foreigners, the criminality and citizens’ insecurity. Therefore, we decided to examine the topic of insecurity, or rather of perceived insecurities, in order to understand how to disrupt this mechanism, which easily leads to the emergence of racism and discrimination phenomena.
The fifth report on security in Italy and Europe, drawn up by Unipolis Foundation and published in March 2012, uses a dual perspective: the social perception of security and the mass media representation of the same topic.
Employment, the general market situation and price trends: these are the top priorities for almost seven persons out of ten in Europe. The Italian figure accounts for 68%. In Italy, 36% of respondents stated that the lack of work is their biggest insecurity.
Almost three Italians out of four are worried about economy: 73%, i.e. an increase of 10 percentage points compared to 2010. 34% expressed an “absolute” insecurity: economy, criminality and global phenomena. 85% of respondents think that criminality has increased, but the perception is brought back to a more reasonable scale when it is associated with a closer and more familiar milieu.
A mere 18% of the sample thinks that the economic crisis will end in one year and a slightly higher percentage that it will end in two years (19%). 39% of respondents reported having reduced their purchases. Barely 14% succeeded in putting money aside.
In recent years, 77% of Italians felt an ever widening gap in wealth distribution. Now, 80% feel this dualism of a society split in two: the Italy of those who have little and the Italy of those who have much.
85% of Italians think that today’s young people will have a worse social position than that of the preceding generations. Almost 50% believe that young people should not feel confident that they will be entitled to pension contributions in the future.
If, on one hand, television news programmes portray an Italy that is “aware” of the economic crisis – which accounts for 39% of the news on insecurity –, on the other, they continue to be packed with news on criminality. The two main TV news channels in terms of audience, TG1 and TG5, broadcast more than one piece of crime news a day every day of the year, thus reaching a rate of 55%.
European television news programmes have been speaking of the crisis since January, whereas, for the main public service news channel in Italy, the crisis started in July 2011 and it is reported according to the “official” version of the Government.
For Italian TV news programmes, the responsibilities of the crisis should be attributed to the financial system, in accordance with the theory that “the real culprits are elsewhere”: a vague and distant, economic and financial speculation.
5.3 History of the Project in Italy: Phases, Places, Methods, Subjects
1st PHASE: Incubation, or gathering Forces (January through April 2011)
The meeting with the local institutions and non-profit organizations, which would support the project, was crucial. About 50 meetings were held in the provinces of Reggio Emilia and Parma, leading to about thirty formal commitments and some sponsorship.
Particularly, our supporters include: the Region Emilia-Romagna, the Anti-Discrimination Centre, the Provinces of Parma and Reggio Emilia, the Municipalities of Parma, Montechiarugolo, Langhirano, Gattatico, Montecchio Emilia, Bibbiano, Correggio, Cavriago, the Union of Municipalities of Tresinaro-Secchia, the Consortium of Communes in the mountain area of Reggio Apennines, CGIL Trade Union, the Chamber of Labour of Reggio Emilia, the Association of Social Cooperatives of Emilia-Romagna, the “A. Cervi” Institute, the “Sante Vincenzi” Infoshop, the “La Cremeria” Study Centre, the Social Cooperatives “Coopselios”, “La Quercia”, “Ravinala”, “Coop Nordest”, the School of Peace Studies of Reggio Emilia, the Associations “Kwa Dunia”, “Guy-Gi”, “Perché no?”, “Malaki Ma Kongo”, “Passaparola”, “CIAC” of Parma, “Mondattivo”, the Group of Lay Missionaries and “Giolli” Association.
These commitments resulted in the first meeting of the so-called Organizing Group, which would support the project, on 29th June in Parma and 5th July 2011 in Reggio Emilia.
In January 2011, in Reggio Emilia, the Local T.O. Group or Permanent Workshop was created; it has constantly supported the project fuelling it with new ideas and actors during the two years of its life.
There were about twenty people available of different age and geographical origin, both Italians and foreigners. The Permanent Workshop met regularly and fully participated in FRATT project actions.
This choice led to an ongoing support from people, thus allowing to dramatize actions and meetings, and to process selected materials.
At the beginning, in the province of Parma, when we first gathered the organizing group, which was made up of representatives from associations, cooperatives, public and private bodies involved in the field of social inclusion and the fight against racism, we started with the question “How can we use theatre to cope with the insecurities and fears associated with the presence of foreigners in Italy?”.
Parma is a medium-sized province of Emilia-Romagna. It is a town that prides itself on a tradition of social solidarity, thanks to the large number of cooperatives and associations operating on the territory. In Parma, there are several foreign communities in search of a better life and future for their children. Also in this town, conflicts, misunderstandings, fears and suspicions arise.
We created a theatrical image of the town to find out what citizens can do. There is a strong correlation between space and power, where power performs most of its functions in the organization of space. The position of the citizens is isolated, inappropriate for an effective transformation of society, which is why, very often, we feel a heavy and painful sense of powerlessness.
Awareness gives rise to three different attitudes: it can cause us to throw in the towel, it can guide our choices to personally make the most of this conscientization, but it could also spur us to action.
The Theatre of the Oppressed starts right from the analysis of reality and its underlying mechanisms to produce a transformation.
In the same period, we developed some tools for the diffusion, promotion and dissemination of the project (leaflets, mailing lists, Web pages, television and radio interviews, press office) and the internal organization of our team.
The phase ended with our participation, on 29th April 2011 in Reggio Emilia, to “Cittadini del Mondo (Citizens of the World)”, International Exhibition & Conference on Migration, with a piece of Forum-Theatre entitled “Migrations, Borders, Identity”.
2nd PHASE: First Interviews and Actions on the Territory (May through June 2011)
In this phase, we began to make the project known through a first leaflet and we mainly conducted street interviews in Reggio Emilia with, young and aged, Italian and foreign people. In total, we conducted 80 interviews, which show that the largest uncertainties are the employment, the future, the planet…
Then, these elements were integrated into the work of the Permanent Workshop that selected the following topics: precarious employment, nutrition and female insecurities, particularly stalking.
Two other important events in Reggio Emilia were:
– Meeting on 30th June 2011 with Odile Sankara from the “Talents de femmes” Association in La Gabella, entitled “Teatro e cambiamento sociale (Theatre and Social Change)” with representatives of the “Cittadini del Burkina Faso” Association;
– Travelling theatre performances on the occasion of “Tutta un’altra cosa 2011 (Quite another Thing 2011)”, XVII National Fair Trade Fair.
The phase of the interviews in the province of Parma.
“THEY ARE WOMEN”
Someone calls them foreigners, migrants or immigrants, extra-communitarian women. Other times, they are called illegal immigrants. They were the women we met at a School of Italian for foreigners.
They welcomed us with a smile, while different languages were mixing in the background. Sounds from all over the world made up a delicate and pleasant music. It was the song inside each of us that was flowing out and melting into music. We seemed an orchestra. It looked like a concert.
“This world is like running on the water”.
Women telling their wishes: “Having a job. Having human and social relationships; having the possibility to enjoy the town life. Not being discriminated. Having the possibility to freely move from one country to another, to freely cross borders. Not being excluded because of the colour of your skin. If you are black, nobody will sit next to you. If you are black, nobody is going to shake your hand”.
Women telling their wishes: “Not being discriminated, not losing your job. Having places, spots, spaces for everyone in the community. Accomplishing a project of life, having a future for my children, completing studies. Being considered as human persons”.
Women talking about their journey, their hopes: “I came here to fulfil my ideal of freedom. I came here to join my husband, to ensure the stability of my family”.
Women telling their fears: “The fear of a future for my children; the fear of being unable to go back to my home country: my children studied here, they speak Italian, their life is here, my life is here. The fear of falling ill. The fear of not being able to freely move. It’s like running on the water”.
Women telling: “This world is like running on the water. It’s a dead world in its social, political, economic structures, since it is unable to sow the future”.
Women hoping: “A change in world government; a redistribution of wealth. An individual change; a change within every woman, every man. A change to sow the future. We share a common destiny that binds us to the whole world. Enough with running on the water!!!”.
Women wanting: “Italians should learn several languages. Let’s stop running on the water. The Italian government should issue laws to protect the migrants, who are the weakest”.
Women saying: “We are all in the same boat, Italians and foreigners. Let’s stop running on the water!!!”.
“LISTENING TO THE ELDERLY”
Every week at the Social Centre “Il Tulipano”, we met men and women spending together their retirement age. They liked talking about the past, of how Parma has changed and the world has changed, with great energy for the present and the years to come.
“Insecurity derives from a lack of work, the loss of rights and the unravelling of human relationships. The privatization of healthcare worries us”. The problem is not the foreigners. They had been once emigrants, too. And they felt foreigners twice. Abroad, of course. And in Italy, once they came back home. The risk is that you no longer know who you are. When you add poverty and social exclusion to emigration, dangerous situations may occur.
“The problem is the loss of workers’ power. With individual contracts, they all become weaker. Today, there is isolation, loneliness. Human relationships are fictitious. Young people should fight for their rights and their future, but they seem discouraged and aimless”.
“Foreign people come here because they have no future in their Country. Our young people migrate not to come back, because here there is no future. Once when our parents emigrated, then we went abroad to come back and contribute to the rebirth of Italy”.
3rd PHASE: “Workshops on Insecurities” and “Open Rehearsals” (September through December 2011 and beyond)
In addition to the TO Group’s Permanent Workshop in Reggio Emilia that collected the material, a workshop of women was created. Only women were allowed. This workshop’s aim was to analyze feminine insecurities and check whether there is a specificity.
Several insecurities were identified here: stalking, mid-aged woman with grown-up and independent sons that feels lonely and aimless, gender discrimination in the workplace.
Also a workshop of migrants was set up to collect all types of insecurities of this segment of the population. We opted for a travelling workshop, with the help of different teams.
We met a group of “Passaparola” Association, another group of “Città Migrante” Association, as well as a group of refugees from Libya.
Always in Reggio Emilia, two other important events were:
– Presentation of the book “Parole sporche (Rude Words)” by Lorenzo Guadagnucci at the Infoshop Mag6, on 25th November 2011;
– Open rehearsals of the theatre group of Reggio Emilia, on 15th December 2011, entitled “Risposte femminili alle insicurezze (Women’s Answers to Insecurities)” and on 20th December 2011 “Gustose incertezze (Tasty insecurities)”.
In Parma, we started a workshop, by attempts and tests, in order to share personal experiences, suggestions and wishes.
We were received in the Social Centre for the Elderly “Il Tulipano”. Through improvisations, pieces of Image-Theatre and Forum-Theatre, we explored the topics in depth. We looked for different perspectives.
Through Newspaper-Theatre, we looked up and analyzed the existing gap between the real world and its mass media representation. We looked for the real news, hidden within the articles.
The insecurity, which is most felt, is loneliness. A new, social loneliness. We perceive insecurity and fear since we feel alone before the loss of job or home, and the erosion of rights.
The petty crime problem due to the presence of foreigners is only a cloak to induce feelings of mistrust.
“Be careful”, said one participant. “Racism has nothing more to do with ethnic groups or geographical origins. We are racists with poor people. If a man comes from Africa and is dark-skinned, but he is a millionaire football player, nobody will say that he is extra-communitarian or has a natural propensity to theft, robbery, exploitation of prostitution or drug peddling. He would rather be considered as a model to emulate. Success and money, here is the real dividing line of racism today”.
Under a very thick snowstorm, on Sunday 11th February in Parma, with the accompaniment of Vanja Buzzini, we held the workshop “Oi Barbaroi, the Barbarians”.
Mass media report the arrival of foreigners, assimilating it – through the images and words used – to the invasion of the Barbarians at the end of the Roman Empire. But, who are the Barbarians today, at our age? It follows that the Barbarian is the one who is not able to recognize and accept the full humanity of the other. Those who regard themselves as superior, as better, who believe that others are less human than them because the colour of their skin, their culture, their customs and traditions are different. Our society is barbaric since it is based on the exploitation of the planet and of other persons, it is founded on inequality and injustice, it is dominated by the need for control and standardization. The fundamental problem is that our society is barbaric because it is doomed to self-destruction. What other result may you expect if everything depends on money and the future is represented as a threat? Our society is a barbaric society that denies the future of young generations. What should we do to evolve from barbarism to a civilized society? Here are some proven ideas: we need empathy; we need to get informed; we need a widespread indignation; we must not accept violence; we need solidarity; we must look for points of contact and dialogue; we need time and patience.
4th PHASE: Expanding Research (January through April 2012)
On the Internet and through our Website and the mailing list, we launched a campaign on insecurities, asking citizens to write their experiences, do interviews, and organize local forums for debate.
During these months, we focused on the municipalities that joined, we strengthened our contacts, and verified the existence of already formed groups to meet. We met the group of the “Donne del mondo” Association of Correggio, coordinated by Gianna Radeghieri, and the group of women from Gattatico with Angela Bussei. Migrant women spoke of the insecurity associated with the loss of job or the reduction of the hours worked by their husbands. We also interviewed a group of elderly from the Popular University of Gattatico.
During the same period, in Scandiano, at the Gobetti Institute, the workshop of young people was realized with the students of two lower sixth classes. Students were especially worried here for the uncertainty of their professional future.
On 3rd April 2012, we met Mandaye N’Diaye, author, actor and theatre producer of the “Takku Ligey” Association and Takku Ligey Theatre (Senegal) on “Teatro, cultura e cambiamento sociale (Theatre, Culture et Social Change)”, with some representatives of the Senegalese Association from the province of Reggio Emilia.
On 25th April 2012, we met the Pakistani community of Correggio to deal with the topics of discrimination and stereotypes on Muslims (at school, at the workplace).
We began a workshop with the working women of Coopselios to analyze the insecurities affecting the persons, who work in a large cooperative structure, and associated with economic, role, relational and internal organization problems.
In Parma, we wanted to share the results of the workshop with the town; therefore, we prepared a few sequences of Image-Theatre. We entitled this meeting: “Prove aperte contro il Razzismo (Open Rehearsals against Racism)” and, to further increase the depth of content to offer to the public, we organized some interviews. We established a simple agenda.
The online edition of the daily newspaper “La Repubblica” for the town of Parma devoted a report with photos to the event.
The audience was active, it participated speaking and acting on the stage, looking for the spark that may trigger the change: a social transformation. The insecurity, which is felt as the worst, is the insecurity of employment. Employment precariousness means precarious identities and social roles. And it also leads to the insecurity associated with the fact of having a house or being able to keep it. And the recurrent fear of private healthcare.
There are barriers and limitations arising from a widespread distrust induced by the media: a dangerous world, where other people, the foreigners, are the opponents, the competitors to fight.
Then we saw the theatrical images, the audience intervened and tried to change the basic mechanisms. How? Looking into the other’s eyes, turning the eyes towards the other person, trying to be confident, making one’s voice heard; while recalling the institutions to their basic function: to be at the service of citizens.
The first expansion of FRATT project occurred in Milan, in mid-March, through a cycle of workshops and a final event: “When fear turns into isolation”.
After an intensive cycle of theatrical workshops addressed to individuals and structured groups, the purpose of the concluding moment was to collectively find the ways to create a safer and fairer society.
The resulting insecurity reveals the structural violence of society which, because of unclear rules, produces marginalization and isolation. A precarious society leads to precarious affections and impalpable relationships.
Racism reveals itself through the discrimination of the most vulnerable persons: precarious, atypical, young and, especially, foreign people. All the segments of society that society tends to treat as belonging to an inferior humanity and, consequently, reducible to objects.
“That’s why the choice of Theatre!” explains Vanja Buzzini, who took care of the musical part of the project. “Because theatre allows looking into each other’s eyes, having a physical contact, regaining the sense of time, a more human and natural rhythm, far from the productivity frenzy of the real world. Theatre is the place where to experience life and start to dream again and to rebuild ties and relationships, in order to be able to face the world”.
Among the concrete actions proposed, there is the search for strategies aimed at lifting the eyes of the persons, who pretend not to see. “Perhaps many people only wait for a sign that change is possible to start acting”, explained a participant.
The FRATT project arrived to Tuscany: Sant’Anna di Stazzema is a village in the province of Lucca, which was the scene of a dreadful Nazi slaughter at the end of Second World War. Today, there is a Historical Museum of Resistance, which organizes a forum for young people. We were invited to entertain an audience of young students, 500 approximately, coming from all over Italy, to present F.RA.T.T. project.
A survivor of the massacre and some representatives of the Tuscan Senegalese community, which was the victim of a bloody and despicable racist attack, were invited to speak.
During the meeting, Hitler’s mad racism and its practical consequences in the life of European citizens are compared to the rampant racism of our time. For young people, racial prejudices are the fruit of ignorance and laziness. Knowing someone else implies a journey towards the other, with the desire to discover.
The world they desire, the future they dream of is populated by people that know how to take the needs of others upon themselves, where individuals realize their wishes because of the power of the group. Italians and foreigners? But, since the nursery school, we have always been all together, without distinction.
5th PHASE: Collection and Formulation of Proposals to fight against Insecurities
(March through November 2012)
The performances of Forum-Theatre and the “Camere in Piazza (Legislative-Theatre sessions)” began, so as to collect proposals and submit them to the Institutions.
Legislative-Theatre sessions were held in Correggio on 18th March on the topic of safe nutrition, on 27th March at the Herberia Theatre in Rubiera on stalking, as well as the “Primo Maggio in Piazza (May 1st in Public)” in Reggio Emilia, before about fifty people, on the topic of precarious employment, and in Gattatico, on 10th May, before 100 persons approximately. The topics proposed were related to the insecurities arising from job loss and, consequently, the loss of the residence permit for the whole family for migrants, loneliness and fears for the elderly.
Among the several performances of Forum-Theatre, we mention: in Correggio on 24th May, before about fifteen foreign women, in Reggio Emilia on 23rd June, at the Youth Hostel, before about thirty varied people on the topic of precarious employment and the difficulties of an Arab family in Italy.
The proposals collected on nutrition, stalking, precarious and flexible employment, uncertainties for the future of the sons (related to the possibility to have the papers to remain in Italy) were revised during the final seminar for submission to the concerned bodies.
In Mantua, another expansion of the project was realized; the idea was to meet about ten groups, collect their types of insecurities and inform them about what were the insecurities of the other groups so as to provide them with a comprehensive picture, which could be processed and further investigated by the Permanent Workshop in the meanwhile. The earthquake, which hit the region on the same day of the meeting, made it difficult to meet all the groups, which were then reduced to 5: Group of Libyan refugees, Association against Discriminations, “Articolo 3”, “Porta aperta”, Group of Social Mediators. The main insecurities retained were the discrimination suffered by the refugees in Mantua, isolation and loneliness.
In Parma, the interviews continued. We met Italian and foreign young people and shopkeepers. They were men and women, who were telling their experiences. They were frightened by a world without rules, without justice, without ethics.
Many people have the feeling of being on the Titanic: they understand that the ship is sinking, while the onboard orchestra goes on playing. The prevailing feelings are resignation and powerlessness. Thus, we organised a series of meetings with prominent celebrity endorsers, who are used to implement good practices.
“The Caravan of Legality”
On Sunday 5th February, the theatre was filled up despite the heavy snow, when Modena City Ramblers arrived in Monticelli Terme.
It is an internationally renowned and active musical group, engaged in social projects. Their endorsement is important. In addition to their direct engagement, the fame and popularity they enjoy provide greater visibility to the concrete actions and projects that individuals and associations are setting up to fight against the mafias.
We talked of the Anti-Mafia Social Forum, which was created to allow citizens to regain their freedom, in order to discuss the deep links existing between environment protection and speculation, between economic degeneration and the erosion of rights and safety at the workplace.
The Mayor and some councillors of the town hosting us, Montechiarugolo, where our cooperative is based, were present. The administrators were actively involved, they were roused by the meeting.
We reflected on the ability of art and music to generate critical awareness, in order to encourage citizens to make their voices heard and assert their rights.
The public was uncontrollable. The first thing to do was to talk not to feel alone. Linking facts, events, persons, politics, economy; linking what happens in our small towns to the macrostructures ruling the evolution of the world: since he who knows, looks and he who looks, can choose what to do.
“Parole sporche (Rude Words)” is the title of a book by Lorenzo Guadagnucci. Journalist and writer, he has long been active within an association called “Giornalisti contro il razzismo (Journalists against Racism)”. The book wants to reveal the mechanisms hidden behind the machine of information, so as to make us aware of the interests determining the creation of a media fear factory.
Lorenzo told us about the initiative of “Giornalisti contro il razzismo” aimed at prohibiting some rude words: drifters, gypsies, vù cumprà [African hawkers], illegal or extra-communitarian immigrants. These words are toxic since they can distort reality and clog our conscience with prejudices and commonplaces.
He explained what journalists can do to properly do their job and citizens to get correct information.
In recent years in Italy, mass media have created the Foreigner Problem, which is associated with petty crime, also through the ethnicization of crimes: Albanians are the perpetrators of acts of violence, Romanians are rapists, all North-Africans are drug dealers, and the women from Eastern Europe are relentlessly seeking to marry the old men they assist so as to settle down.
We were in March and, with Lorenzo, we repeated the event in July at the Multicultural Festival of Collecchio, which was largely attended by a very interested public.
All the material collected formed the canvas for the Forum-Theatre performances in the province of Parma. The first performance was on 31st March at the theatre of Monticelli Terme, the second on 1st July in Collecchio in the framework of the Multicultural Festival. The audience was lively and helped find solutions to the issues that we were putting forth theatrically: social loneliness and media bombardment.
Union, solidarity, collaboration and the ability of each one to take the problems of others upon oneself are the antidotes to fear and the dissemination of racist and discriminatory ideas and practices, and to social injustice.
We must not trust the media drum and must not submit to the image of the mainstream world, but we should rather directly seek first-hand information.
The important thing is to act together to achieve common goals, without waiting for – like the characters in our performance – the draws of the lottery or to hit the jackpot.
5.4 What were the Results? Evaluation Criteria and Impact.
Our main results, as regards project objectives in Italy, are:
— 1st Objective) Fighting racism.
In this sense, we deem it important to have introduced – to different audiences – the worries, anxieties and fears of groups, whom we have no lasting relationships with and sometimes we are prejudiced about. The event in Gattatico, for instance, was interesting; the auditorium was filled with 100 persons, about 80 aged Italian women and 20 foreign women. The two stories performed were symmetrical in that they highlighted both the loneliness and fear of the other of aged women and the challenge to make both ends meet by themselves of immigrated women coming from different Countries. Should the project continue, we wonder whether it will be possible to consider a sort of collaboration: fill the empty time of aged Italian women with Arab women’s child care so as to enable them to go to work.
— 2nd Objective) Transforming social insecurity into the starting point for change.
1- In all, we collected several types of insecurities, in Parma and Reggio Emilia, Mantua, Milan and Sant’Anna di Stazzema; we met groups and individuals for a total of about 1,500 people, of which 600 approximately in the province of Reggio Emilia, 300 in the province of Parma, about fifty in Milan, about thirty in Mantua and 500 approximately in Sant’Anna di Stazzema.
The groups were different by age, origin, social status and they have substantially validated the hypotheses of Unipolis research.
2- We have developed relationships with several entities of the provinces of Reggio Emilia and Parma, which will be useful to work further.
3- We proved that this pathway is possible; the citizens we met like to talk about their insecurities, while the answers may also come from a greater sensitivity of the institutions and bodies of the social private sector.
In addition to insecurities, particularly in the case of precarious employment, some very interesting proposals, which need to be further discussed and revived beyond the end of the project, were formulated.
4- We received specific requests for intervention in the framework of the project by some participating entities (e.g. Coopselios Social Cooperative).
5- The Permanent Workshop strengthened during the work on the field, developing an expertise that can be further exploited.
— 3th Objective) Unifying different social groups on common goals, overcoming prejudices.
The performance on Arab women, which was later staged also in Reggio Emilia, showed this cross-section of life to Italian workers and has led, for instance, to the proposal of unifying the forces of Italian and foreign workers facing the same precarious situations, so as to create a work cooperative.
The direction taken is the right one and we can expect an evolution of the project towards greater involvement.
— 4th Objective) Exploring the Legislative-Theatre process.
We explored this possibility. The process requires energies, continuity and a lot of confidence – on the part of those who govern – in participatory processes. The idea is to continue in this direction, while strengthening the relationship with the institutions that can welcome a process of this kind.
5.5 What were the Difficulties and how have they been addressed?
The main difficulties that we encountered during the course of the project may be substantially attributed, on one side, to the need of reconciling the different personal and professional schedules of the different participating entities and, on the other, to the – unexpected and unpredictable – natural and weather events that occurred concomitantly with several project activities.
As regards the obstacles of the persons concerned to participate in the various activities because of the difficulty in reconciling personal and professional schedules, we proposed activities targeted to individual groups, segmenting the activities by time slots so as to allow a wider participation. The only knotty problem to unravel remained the meeting of the organizing group, which was composed, on one hand, of public bodies and cooperatives bound to specific working hours and, on the other, by associations and groups of citizens, who could only meet outside working hours.
Natural events have affected the activities in different periods of the year. Exceptional snowfalls and a persistent frost affected the activities that we have done during the month of February.
The earthquake, which struck Emilia-Romagna and the southern part of Lombardy at the end of the month of May and continued with more or less strong tremors for almost one month, has strained not only the populations that were directly affected, but also our work team: most public activities on schedule have been suspended and/or performed in a reduced scale compared to what had originally been planned.
Strategies and needs
At the end of this experience we’d like to make some general reflection and point out some crucial element in the structure of the project for future developments and applications.
It seems to us that we four partners have used different strategies facing racism that can be important to empathise:
“DISCOVER YOUR RACISM”: Pa’tothom strategy was based on the function that the “subtle racism” is the most important “daily life racism”, so the idea has been to create a performance that shows it to audience not of activists but more heterogeneous, trying to affect ordinary people as much as possible because they could become aware about their own subtle racist behaviour.
“BREAKING DOWN STEREOTYPES – empowering the oppressed”: Entr’act strategy was based on a group of youngsters in situation of exclusion (socially, in family, scholar, and/or professional or at risk). The attempt was to empower them and transform this labelled group in a resource, like “prevention actors”. For example they came to schools to show their experience of marginalisation to a broader audience, breaking down the stereotype that they were good for nothing. Parallely the group developed personal and social skills and got the chance to transform its violent behaviour in constructive communication.
“EMPOWERING ACTIVISTS”: Miteinander chose to work with a group of activists, creating a Forum-Theatre play about racism and trying to sensitize a large audience about the threat of Neo-nazi groups. Doing that the idea is that combating racism and Neo-nazim means to create a safer public space where citizens can become more active and break down the “culture of silence and indifference” by entering in dialogue about transformation.
“TRANSFORMING UNSAFETIES”: Giolli focused on the several unsafeties people live, trying to take them seriously and investigating the roots. The idea was to create awareness and find solutions for these unsafeties to prevent the search of a scapegoat in foreigners.
Of course other strategies could be applied or invented, for instance to work with a mixed group of people with mutual stereotypes, in order to create more understanding, but the set experimented shows how different can be the approach to fight racism through theatre. It doesn’t mean in our experience that one is always better then others, but mainly that when we plan a project we should take in account carefully this decision, analysing the local context, the resources, the main realistic objective we can have.
THEATRE OF THE OPPRESSED AND RACISM CONNECTION
In some synthetic points we try now to describe why we chose to use Theatre of the Oppressed as a main tool to face racism.
Racism for us is not simply the “fear of the Other” but also is related to power and social structures of domination. T.O. is essentially a research about power structure(s) and how they dominate concretely relationship in society. So using T.O. means just to enter in the core of racism with powerful tools.
In other words T.O. puts in question social structure that seem to be normal (educational system, justice system, etc.). Finally, through Legislative-Theatre people can intervene against power structures at law level, by proposing new more favourable laws.
T.O. is a good way to activate civil responsibility, because is not a “classic theatre with a message to be sent”, but on the contrary, you return the problem to the audience, in order to have a dialogue about it. “Society” doesn’t stay passive against/about the problem, but stands and takes a position. The main question curried on by the Joker is <what can you do personally to transform a specific situation?>.
Therefore T.O. opens a dialogue, maybe a confrontation, and this helps to proceed in the investigation about racist realities.
T.O. works also as a mirror where people can recognise their behaviour or increasing the awareness about themselves; but a mirror where you don’t feel attacked. T.O. creates a safe space thanks to the dialogue facilitated by the Joker’s role and the metaphorical character/form of theatre.
T.O. (especially Forum-Theatre) is democratic and creates a space where every person, not only activists, can debate freely and where it is possible to interact with also “racist opinions”. In this way you can try to develop these opinions, to problematize them, to generate an exchange within the audience.
Forum-Theatre asks questions that you can’t do directly to a person or sometimes are difficult to debate in public.
With people concerned by racism T.O can give strength to them and to activists, not only inform people about racism.
The process of T.O. with a marginalised group can help to increase skills, to transform violent behaviour in other types of communication, to increase the self-esteem, etc.
T.O. has to do with body expression and action, not mainly with talking, so people not used to talk a lot can however take advantage of this process, both in workshop and in performance and become active.
Groups that experience racism, by using T.O., can gain visibility and communicate their problems through theatre, sensitizing a larger audience.
WHAT T.O. NEEDS TO BE MORE EFFECTIVE?
Finally some other points to be taken in account in planning:
Alliances with other organisations that are doing anti-racist campaign is useful to enlarge our impact, to create a strong dynamics and mutual exchange, to enrich opportunity to get people, to strength communication about the project and so on.
We discussed and reflected a lot on how to communicate contents like racism when we invite people or make dissemination/publicity: to declare explicitly anti-racist objectives or to talk about unsafeties, or about discrimination. We think there is not a rule but case by case you should choose the way more effective for your objectives and appropriate to the social context.
Collaborating with other artistic or social methods can strength the project. We think theatre and T.O. especially is a powerful tool under many aspects listed above, but sometimes people are scared with theatre or other activities touch more part of the population, so it’s important to reflect about it. In Italy we used a famous music group to attract people to debate about unsafeties and law. In Germany follow up project was based on video, exhibition or other activities.
Networking is important: to create links with other organizations and Institutions allow the project to enter in different social segments that are important to give visibility but also to expand the project avoiding the risk to be encapsulated as a special event far from daily life. We created (or tried to) pilot group with different organisms in Italy, Germany, Spain, France to sustain the project in different ways (publicity, space, reflection…).
Mass-media: to be present on radio, TV and newspaper is important but is difficult, more with this subject. Despite of this we are happy because some mass-media gave us space for Fratt, mainly but not only local media. So in a project is important to think about a strategy and resources for this. The International Meeting in Barcelona helped the visibility of Fratt.
Continuity: Fratt generated some interesting effects. In Spain other organisations are asking to re-play the Forum “Mustafà”, also after the end of Fratt. In Italy we created connections with small groups of migrants, local associations and individuals that are interested to continue. In one case the idea of Legislative-Theatre was accepted but the possible time is after the end of the project, so Giolli will continue with other resources. Moreover a stable mixed group of volunteers was created and they want to continue to work around migration and racism. In Germany we conducted several follow up activities, continuing the work with young people that attended the Forum-Theatre performances and produced a DVD that will be shown in different places. In France certain partners continue to work with the same youngsters with theatre of other tools and the film made still is presented to different groups and Entr’act is asked to make the same activity with other groups of youngsters.
EUROPEAN ADDED VALUE
How important was for our work to collaborate with other countries?
We underline four aspects:
1) We have got impulses from other’s work both as strategies facing racism and methodologically. We exchange idea and learnt from each other. We now realize how rich can be an anti-racist work through theatre, thanks to the common reflections and practices.
2) We have got a larger overview about the racism struggle thanks to other partners, because we were questioned by the partners and our practice was deepen a lot.
3) We learnt a lot from the process itself about racism: how to face it, the problems we found, etc.; we started with a knowledge and then we increase our awareness of the issue.
4) Partner oblige to make an international overview of the same issue, so make you to enlarge your vision and to understand differences and similarities in countries.
We hope other organisations would take these reflections and our experiences as an impulse to create their own project on strong methodological and theoretical basis in order to face racism in an effective way. Europe needs to have lot of anti-racist projects to combat this increasing phenomenon.
FRATT – Fighting racism through theatre
SOCIOS / PARTNERS