Innovative projects for refugees, former child soldiers, and host communities in northern Uganda
Blog
Jan 2014 09

Hands-on Reconciliation through Community Theater

Posted in News

By Arianna Watson

A GRG group recently performed their community theater to people from the local village, Laminadera. Their drama showcased three of the most challenging issues in Northern Uganda: Land Conflicts, Gender Based Violence and Trauma.

We look at the results of the community theater project in this blog.

Has there been any change within the group or in the community since the performances? How does community theater help war affected communities to reconcile and to solve disputes? Interviews with the group members highlighted the benefits and discussed how to improve future performances.

The general feeling from the groups is a great sense of pride about using theater to give knowledge to members of the community, especially the youth. The excitement clearly shows as they tell us about their performances.  Not a single bad remark comes up and laughter rings around our shady meeting spot. One satisfied group member adds, “I thought the audience wouldn’t support us, but we received massive support!” Confidence, strength and happiness are amongst the benefits that community theater has brought to the groups.

”we have learned the right steps to solve problems, respecting one another, and joining hands in work”; a group member told us when we asked her to describe the changes brought by the project.

How about changes within the community?

“The community is engaging in peace talks, conflicts are now confronted with peaceful negotiations [and the] general level of conflict is reducing, as members of the community are learning that they are one”. We were also happy to hear that, “within the community, different families are now competing to see who is the most harmonious.” Peace competition is a wonderful thing!

Did group members experience that the objectives had been fulfilled?

Responses as a whole seemed positive. One group member shared his view on unity,

“I wanted the programme [community theater] to unite us because of the land conflict divisions. I’m not sure if there is this benefit yet, but from the audience’s comments, the community theater has taught people to use the resources that they have and taught them to share. I think it has helped to improve unity.”

Another member talked about advocacy towards key stakeholders.

“I wanted it [the community theater] to help us advocate some of those challenges that we were facing and to have them addressed by stakeholders. Community theater has helped us understand our issues and advocate for them. In the performance we advocated but not all stakeholders attended, however, more people have seen the problems now, so there are more people together to advocate for the change that we want.”

Body Map: Have you experienced any personal changes during the process of community theater? “I used to be lonely and I would stay alone, isolated. Now I am united with the members of the committee and the group. I live with them now.” A group member to us.

Lessons learned?

An outburst of laughter follows a funny comment,“on domestic violence issues I would avoid children watching the performance. Some children saw me act out stealing and reported me to the police as a thief.” The group also highlights that GRG should continue to do community theater. “We want to take theater to a higher level and perform so many different issues” the group members told GRG.

 

 

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *