Article by Carmen Gutierrez Olóndriz (APEM)
Remembering the wonderful experience of the Training the Trainers session held in Matera, where we had the opportunity to carry out a workshop using the FakeIt methodology (the basis of the Master the Act project), I relived the feeling of empowerment that theatrical techniques produce in the people who carry them out.
While reviewing some of the experiences that have been carried out outside Europe in recent years, I found some in India and another in Antioquia (Colombia) to be very remarkable, which I will mention below:
Self-esteem, self-confidence, losing stage fright, resilience, among others, are competencies that are developed through theatre and that for some years now, have been positively valued in the jobs offered by the current labour market. But, in addition, theatre has proven to be an excellent resource for the empowerment of people, in general, and of women and girls, in especially, in environments where they are exposed to violence and abuse. In this sense, non-profit organisations such as Manos Unidas, which has been fighting against hunger, poor nutrition, misery, disease, underdevelopment, and lack of education since the 1960s, has collaborated in two programmes to prevent human trafficking and violence against women in India., Using talks, and through training, seminars, workshops and theatre, communities have been empowered and have created migration control networks involving women’s groups, boys and girls, teachers, village leaders and local authorities, in coordination with law enforcement and other organisations. Women and girls have strengthened their position in the community, protecting each other and, understanding the risks of going elsewhere without proper follow-up in the fight against early marriages, violence and inequalities.
Along the same lines, Dr. Alka Jaspal, Spanish teacher at the Cervantes Institute in New Delhi and co-director of the theatre group El Clavileño, confirms that theatre is a safe space where women feel secure and through teaching and theatre, she wants to change the future of girls in India.
Thousands of kilometres away from India, in Antioquia, Colombia, Luisa Quintero, founder and director of the Escuela de Artes ELA carried out a theatrical workshop on female empowerment, the subject of her doctoral thesis, using theatre as a pedagogical tool to investigate and empower the capacities, values, dreams, fears, and passions of each of the teenage girls who participated in the workshop.
“This workshop empowers adolescent women to dare to fight for their dreams, to value and strengthen their physical and mental capacities, to work for economic and emotional independence, to learn to express what they feel and to raise their voices without fear and oppression, to love and admire themselves and above all to be aware of the power and value that each one carries within to continue creating society” says Quintero.
Each of the above initiatives have demonstrated the effectiveness of an art that for more than 26 centuries, not only makes us dream and live other lives, but through its techniques, we can improve our own.
Quintero, L (2020). Taller de Empoderamiento femenino bajo una línea metodológica del teatro posdramático político (Tesis Doctoral Universidad de Antioquía)