Youth Engagement: Theatre for Peacebuilding
Bond Street has been working in Myanmar since 2009, partnering with Thukhuma Khayeethe (Art Travelers), one of the only theatre troupes that dares to perform contemporary theatre, to train artists in social theatre methods and their practical applications for community education and social empowerment. The project is designed to address issues of diversity and mutual respect, and introduce interactive theatre as a means to promote community engagement and conflict prevention.
Civic engagement on issues of rule of law, discrimination and sectarian violence is new in Myanmar, a nation emerging from decades of military rule. The theatre arts give youth a platform to examine and discuss issues in a public forum and participate as active agents for social advancement.
Thukhuma Khayeethe and Bond Street collaborated to create an educational performance that illuminates issues of diversity, discrimination, and coexistence, the roots of the issues, and the damage caused to Burmese peace and social development for all citizens. After each performance by Thukhuma Khayeethe the artists hosted participatory activities that allowed the audience to come onto the stage to role-play and offer their solutions to the issues.
"This is something very new and interesting. We need this in Myanmar."
We have also developed a theatre-based curriculum centered on the issue of anti-discrimination and personal responsibility, featuring theatre exercises. This curriculum allows students to role-play, debate, discuss issues, and devise their own solutions. Similar workshops are offered to teachers, NGO staff, and other stakeholders, to encourage inclusion in Burmese school systems.
We are training youth to create their own plays based on issues of their choosing, and present the performances in local schools and community centers with post-performance dialogues. The impact on communities is amplified when presented by youth for youth.