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Youth Theater for Peace

The Youth Theater for Peace program promotes sustainable conflict prevention at the community level through a participatory theater methodology called Drama for Conflict Transformation (DCT).

IREX’s programs introduce DCT to teachers, youth-serving professionals and teenagers (15-16) in rural, conflict-prone areas of Kyrgyzstan (2010 – 2014) and Tajikistan (2010 – 2012). By strengthening youth-serving institutions and equipping youth with the attitudes and skills to become agents of peace, the program creates a group of empowered youth and supportive adults ready to lead community-based conflict resolution activities. Participants share DCT techniques to create dialogue and promote tolerance within their larger communities. The Youth Theater for Peace program is funded by USAID.

Goals

Promote sustainable conflict prevention at the community level by achieving the following objectives:

• Youth-serving professionals develop skills and attitudes to engage youth in Drama for Conflict Transformation.

• A cadre of youth from adversarial groups is mobilized and empowered to share DCT with the larger community.

• Trained program participants institutionalize DCT methodologies in their schools, NGOs, workplaces, and other institutions.

Background

Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have large youth populations that are increasingly removed from economic and educational opportunity, have few positive extracurricular outlets, and are at risk of becoming involved in violence. Conflict issues include resource distribution (land and water), regionalism and ethnic tensions, school racketeering, access to education, early marriage and gender-based violence.

Project Activities

Drama for Conflict Transformation (DCT). DCT incorporates local cultural traditions and starts with simple theater games that break the ice and encourage imagination and play. Once trust is established within the group, the methodology is used to share personal stories about conflict. Participants develop short plays about real-life conflict issues and perform them in their communities, engaging the audience to be part of the performance and contribute to the resolution. A discussion follows the performance, encouraging dialogue on conflict issues and bringing divided groups into contact. Ninety-nine percent of participants reported having better conversations and friendships and increased trust with people of other ethnicities, religions and nationalities as a result of DCT.

DCT Training and Summer Camps: Adults and youth are selected on a competitive basis to receive interactive training in DCT—developing plays about actual conflict issues they face and preparing them to perform and engage audiences in diverse communities.

Community Theater Tours: Troupes of youth from neighboring communities take their performances on the road, sparking dialogue about conflict issues and allowing audience members to suggest and test solutions to real problems.

Sustainability Grants: Trained adults and youth are mentored and supported to share DCT skills with others in the community, expanding the base of schools, NGOs, and other institutions using the methodology.

Youth Leadership for Peace: Through a companion program funded by the United States Institute of Peace, youth and adults will be trained and supported to form peer mediation groups and foster dialogue in their schools among students of different ethnic, religious, and other backgrounds. The program will create toolkits on peer mediation and best practices for supporting students affected by conflict, which will be widely disseminated throughout Kyrgyzstan. An inter-ethnic, inter-regional Youth Theater for Tolerance and Peace Troupe will also perform DCT plays on a special tour to Osh and Bishkek.

Contact

  • Columbian Hypnosis - pushing physical limits
  • Rehearsing a forum theater play
  • Image of oppression: a girl rejected for wearing modern dress

Project Facts

- In a recent evaluation, nearly 98% of participants said they are confident in their ability to positively affect conflict situations in their community, compared to 15% of comparison group in Tajikistan and 31% in Kyrgyzstan.

- In just two years, youth actors performed for more than 47,000 community members across Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan and continue to reach thousands more.

- Sixty-four Drama Clubs established through YTP in schools and organizations in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan continue to foster community dialogue using the DCT methodology.