ALâ Theatre for Change
ALâ, established in 2004, had as its objective, the provide training for our members. The first course in 2006, entitled ‘Community Arts for Community Development’, was a ten-day workshop facilitated by Peter Hussey and introduced ALâ members to Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed (TO). ALâ has continued training sessions up to present day with courses facilitated by top Irish and European TO facilitators. Using these skills, we were funded to run a number of outreach projects in Galway based schools. We also developed a number of TO performances which tour nationally. The Theatre of Change was founded this year and replaced Outreach & Training.
In 2014, the work of ALâ was divided into two projects, each with its own coordinating committee and who report to ALâ Management Committee. The project doing Theatre of the Oppressed capacity building, Outreach & Training was renamed Theatre for Change in 2015.
The aim of Theatre for Change is to use Theatre of the Oppressed (T.O) to examine social issues that are pertinent to communities and societies in order to empower people to bring about personal and social change.
Theatre for Change Activities include:
- Facilitate workshops using Theatre of the Oppressed methodologies.
- Deliver Theatre of the Oppressed training programmes, in communities, schools and third level institutions.
- Build TO capacity within Ireland through hosting workshops with international Theatre of the Oppressed Facilitators.
- Support the development of ALâ Theatre for Change national network of TO practitioners.
- Develop and perform Forum Theatre plays.
- Deals with the governance, sourcing funding, admin, reporting and development of the above.
- Deliver a TO module on BA programme.
- Empower local communities to engage with and dialogue around social and personal issues
- Provide a tool to assist in communities’ enquiry.
- Contribute to communities’ confidence in finding solutions that work for them.
- Provide safe space to examine pertinent issues.
- Develop an understanding of the interconnectedness between local and global issues.
- Introduce Theatre of the Oppressed methodologies in schools and third level institutions.
Feedback from participants is very positive and many express a desire to continue to build their skills with further training opportunities. Yet the constant challenge of sourcing sustainable funding to continue building capacity remains a constant drain on ALâ’s resources.
Feedback from workshop participants, highlight opportunities to use what they have learned in their work, yet, they too are challenged in finding funding to continue their skill development. This is reflected in the national conversations that do not recognise locally devised and created community arts as legitimate art, and therefore not considered for artistic funding.
We fully support this initiative and have proposed a Theatre for Change Festival in Galway that will host many of our international contacts to Galway including those who have previously facilitated courses in Galway and many others who intend to do so in the future. This festival will include workshops, performances, outreach to schools and communities of place and interest and a conference.
ALâ Theatre for Change devised and delivered Forum Theatre plays.
“A Day in The Life of an Asylum Seeker” – about the life of a person in the Direct Provision system. This was performed nationally.
“Divide and Conquer” – on natural resources and how communities get divided when they become privatised. Over three years this was performed all over Ireland, some in communities who were in the middle of fracking proposals for their communities. This provided very good opportunities for community discussions – people felt that forum theatre should be used in the communities when they are first selected as possible sites for development – it might help all sides to express their reservations and have a cross community discussion rather than a divisive and contentious one which splits communities.
“The Other Side of the Mirror” – on attitudes and prejudices build into aid and development policy that views those being aided as of lesser capacity and therefore the funders and charities know best and are the experts.
“The One That Knows Best” – on funding led development and its impact on community self-development and voice. Many of the audiences saw it as their experience. Along with an introduction to TO this was performed as part of the community and arts activist summer camp in Wicklow organized by Claiming Our Future.
‘Life Cycles’ – on the impact of economic equalities of people’s life chances and opportunities.