Living Together. Community Dialogue Around the Issues of Internally Displaced People in Kyiv

Wednesday, 1 April, 2015 - 18:00 to Saturday, 31 October, 2015 - 18:00

Dates: April – October 2015

In the end of April 2015 a group of 9 participants (3 male, 6 female; 7 IDPs from the East of Ukraine and two from Crimea) joined the workshop, facilitated by two jokers of the Theatre for Dialogue NGO. The workshop was aimed to: introduce participants to the method of forum-theatre; research and bring up the issues and stories related to lives of IDPs through theatre games and exercises; and develop of a forum-play scenario.

Through research and discussion, the group was able to consolidate and bring out key issues, which reflected the group’s collective experience of displacement.

The play, created at he workshop, was rehearsed throughout May. Key take-aways and results of the play development process:

Through theatre games, improvisation, scenes and creative interpretation of challenging moments, participants processed their emotions, were able to look at their situation “from the distance”, develop a critical attitude towards it and after a week of rehearsal reported that they are ready and willing to come on the big stage and show the play. All participants also reported that they were feeling more optimistic about their lives, better able to come up with creative solutions to daily challenges and plan their life ahead with more confidence.

The first show happened on May 20th in the place of compact residence of IDPs in Pushcha-Vodytsia near Kyiv. The premiere in Kiev took place on May 22nd.

Some of the quotes collected from spectators after the show include:

“I’ve received some psychological relief. I realized that there are many people like me. I saw that they are solving these issues, and how they do it”.

“I have not before seen a theatre where you can replace an actor. But I liked it. When you replace an actor, you can better understand what is going on”.

“More performances like this are needed so that we can start building dialogue in our society”.

In summer and autumn 2015 the production was shown in Odessa, Kharkiv, Ivano-Frankivsk and Lviv. The final performance happened in Kiev in October 2015.

In the middle of the project, in July 2015, the jokers of the play also conducted in-depth interviews with participants about the impact of the project on their lives, changes they see in their situation and their willingness to continue being part of this theatre project. Key comments by participants include:

“After the workshop, I was able to talk to my manager who had offered me a job without pay at all, and negotiate a decent salary for myself. I would not have been able to do this before”. Anna, 24 (Donezk/Kiev)

“I now see that all life is kind of like theatre, meaning that we all play some roles but we can also change them. Now when I am in a conflict, I think to myself “what could I do differently?” Then I imagine a different behavior and I change my actions. And it works”. Dilyaver, 17 (Simferopol/Kiev)

“In my hometown I used to work for an NGO. When separatists came to the city, our organization was closed and I had to move. Now I have a regular job but not in the NGO sector. Theatre for Dialogue helped me find a way of being engaged in a volunteer work that is also meaningful to me. I like creativity, and I like making social impact and I find all of that here.” Anna, 28 (Donetsk/Kiev)

“While there is so much instability in my life, our theatre project helps me find a place of certainty. I know that I can always come here, and I will find people who support me, who can listen to me and who care. This is very important for me. Our performance in Odessa also helped me really reconsider my role as a woman, realizing how much I can do and how much I underestimate myself.” Olga, 51 (Gorlovka/Kiev)

“ I came to this project because I felt that after one year of apathy it was time for me to start changing something. I knew that I would find challenges and opportunities for growth here. And that’s what happened. I feel like I am doing something meaningful through this work, and I also feel that my life is changing as a result of that. I found a new job, which is also related to support of IDPs, I started doing sports again and I feel a lot more confident about myself”. Yulia, 29 (Donetsk/Kiev/Zaporizhzhya)

“I am incredibly impressed with the impact this project has had on society. I see the feedback we’re getting from the audience, I hear dialogues in the forum and I realize that we need more of this work all over Ukraine. It’s fascinating to see how different the feedback in every city is, and you learn so much from the audience and their interventions. In my organization (Crimea SOS) we do work related to social integration of IDPs. Well, I see this as one of the most effective tools for social integration and dialogue.” Svetlana, 35 (Torez/Kiev)

Theatre for Dialog