Instead of armed, uniformed officers confronting people of color in poor neighborhoods, Theater for Humanity asks them to meet at the theater.
Personal Narrative Theater
Theater for Humanity demonstrates that formerly incarcerated persons and police officers often have much more in common than they realize yet they often make different decisions when faced with the same situations. Personal Narrative Theater is a form of relationship building that introduces members of these two groups to one another through their personal experiences of powerlessness, isolation, and abandonment.
The Collective Narrative
Personal narratives of powerlessness become communal narratives from which scenes are created. The participants select four stories that best represent the entire groups shared experiences of powerlessness. Then, they begin to shape and tell each other’s stories.
Judith L. Herman author of Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence – From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror writes, “Remembering and telling the truth about terrible events are prerequisites both for the restoration of the social order and for the healing of individual victims.” Conflict Theater begins the process of truth telling with a small population who are invested in one another’s lives. Here, participants share their negative experiences encountering the opposite group.
Devised Theater & Performing Solutions
Participants begin to prepare for a staged reading of an original play that contains the stories that they worked on: personal, collective and conflict. The facilitator brings the script for the staged reading. In the first session, participants are assigned a character and sit for a staged reading of the script. Participants offer feedback to the facilitator on changes to the story. Then, the participants begin to work together to explore the ending.
This final phase will result in a play that will be performed in the community. This phase is the foundation for the post-performance discussion on the issues that are organic to the group and specific to the community.
A Journey of Discovery
From personal narratives to designing policy.