Drama! Our innovative new partnership on Community Theater with the Justice and Reconciliation Project, GRG Blog, 31 May 2012
by Christopher Maclay
This May, GRG established an exciting partnership with the Justice and Reconciliation Project (JRP) which will see two groups piloting an innovative reconciliation-through-theater project.
In response to groups’ requests for support in dance and drama activities, GRG looked out at how we could best use these recreational interests – which are very popular in Acholi culture – to support reconciliation and reintegration of ex-combatants on the ground.
Picture: The group Anga Konya in Labigiriang are encouraged to ‘let their creative energy flow’!
Then GRG found JRP. JRP has been working in Northern Uganda since 2005 on the promotion of transitional justice and reconciliation through documentation, community mobilisation (particularly of victims’ groups), gender justice, and policy guidance. In the last couple of years, JRP has also piloted a methodology which seeks to support communities to examine events of the war through theater.
When GRG proposed applying this methodology with its groups which combine both ‘victims’ and ‘perpetrators’, JRP jumped at the idea, and we will be piloting the scheme together with two of GRG’s groups in Lamwo district over the next six months. On 22-23 May, GRG and JRP facilitated introductory sessions with the groups, examining the impacts of the conflict in these communities, and presenting how theater can be used to examine these issues. One beneficiary from the group Atoo Pi Iya in Ayuu Alali explained that he wanted to explore the fact that some ex-combatants were abducted and forced to do ‘terrible things’ but others think that they wanted to do it. A lot of these ex-combatants, he explained, wanted to talk about what they did publicly but they fear retribution.
This is where the theater comes in. After training of facilitators in June, the groups will then design their own plays based on issues important to them. These plays will encourage participants to examine why people did what they did, and to understand how it affected others. The groups will then act out the plays to their communities and encourage them to join in the discussion. As one group member from the group Anga Konya in Labigiriang explained, ‘We like doing theater in this community, but we never realized we could use it to confront such issues.’
GRG is very excited to have established this partnership with such an innovative organisation, and we will keep you updated as the theater project evolves!