The idea of ‘doing theatre’ as a means to support different disadvantaged groups at risk of social exclusion is quite ancient.
Good practices are spread all over Europe, showing the potential, effectiveness and transversal applicability of this methodology, which can be successfully applied to any age group and adapted to several targets affected by different kinds of social disease. In a few words, this educational approach is based upon the idea of developing key competences and skills, increasing an individual’s sense of initiative, self-confidence and self-esteem by practising theatre, thus facilitating social inclusion.
The seven partners in this project are Oltre le Parole, Teatro Civile, Italy (lead); Smashing Times, Ireland; Comunità San Patrignano Società Cooperativa Sociale, Italy; Bielskie Stowarzyszenie Artystyczne Teatr Grodzki, Poland; PELE, Associação Social e Cultural, Portugal; Magenta Consultoria Projects SL, Spain; and ProSoc – Drustvo Za Implementacijo Projektov in Razvoj Socialnega Podjetnistva, Slovenia.
Plenty of examples and success stories demonstrate the usefulness of this approach. Within the Italian context, one of the most relevant best practices belongs to the Community of San Patrignano, one of the partners of this project, using theatre for the rehabilitation of former drug addicts and eventually performing in prestigious theatres such as Piccolo di Milano, Olimpico di Vicenza, and during the Festival Pirandelliano. Other Italian good practices have gained visibility and recognition at international level such as the Taviani’s docu-drama Cesare Deve Morire, winner of the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2012 and interpreted by a group of detainees of the Roman Rebibbia prison. Similarly, the Compagnia della Fortezza by Armando Punzo is another fortunate and well known example of theatre in prison, whereas disabled people were involved by the director Pippo del Bono both in cinema and theatre performances.
A peculiar form, born in Brazil during the 80s which then became quite popular in Europe for its transversal applicability, is the ‘Theatre of the Oppressed’, based on the idea that while practising theatre, the ‘spect-actors’ can transform the relation between themselves and their surroundings.
However, this is just a possible declination of the extensive and powerful methodology of Social and Community Theatre. According to these premises, this project aims to promote cooperation and the exchange of good practices at European level and take advantage of the EU transparency and recognition tools to increase the training opportunities and employability of professionals working in the field of Social Theatre.
In particular, the Specific objectives of the project are:
- To promote the diffusion of Social and Community Theatre as an effective means for the social inclusion of disadvantaged adult learners
- To strengthen cooperation and facilitate the exchange of good practices in the field of non-formal education among partner organisations
- To jointly develop and validate a training course addressed to STO
- To boost a process for the recognition and standardisation at EU level of the SOCIAL THEATRE OPERATOR (STO), a new professional figure defined in terms of knowledge, competences and skills
The main target groups addressed by the project can be identified at three levels:
- Non-profit organisations supporting different groups of disadvantaged adult learners working
- Professional adult educators and volunteers working in the field of Social and Community Theatre
- Groups at high risk of social exclusion and segregation such as migrants, disabled, prisoners, ethnic minorities, former drug addicts, NEETs, etc.