Monday, 28 March 2011

IPS: Theatre For Development and Peace

Theatre For Development and Peace

A. D. McKenzie

PARIS, Mar 24 (IPS) - Some African playwrights say they want to
 use drama to promote development and peace, and they appealed to
world leaders to listen on World Theatre Day, celebrated

"While nations spend colossal sums of money on peace-keeping
 missions in violent conflict areas of the world, little
attention is given to theatre as a one-on-one alternative for
conflict transformation and management," said Jessica Kaahwa, the
Ugandan playwright known for using theatre to foster community

 Kaahwa presented the world premiere of 'Putting Words Between
 The Eyes', a 20-minute, one-act play that she created especially
for World Theatre Day, celebrated in Paris at the headquarters of
UNESCO, the U.N. cultural agency.

 Set in the fictional republic of Sarkina, which has just gone
 through a protracted violent conflict, the play looks at how
people try to rebuild shattered lives.

 It also shows well-meaning ambassadors trying to overcome their
 despair in the face of failed peace resolutions, as both
civilians and peacekeepers get caught in the "dilemma of hope and
distrust", according to Kaahwa.

 Perhaps intentionally, the play evoked the current conflicts in
 Libya and elsewhere in North Africa and the Middle East, with a
sense of desolation and sound effects that included the screaming
of warplanes and the firing of guns.

 "Theatre subtly permeates the human soul gripped by fear and
 suspicion, by altering the image of self - and opening a world
of alternatives for the individual and hence the community,"
Kaahwa said in her keynote message.

 "Theatre can give meaning to daily realities while forestalling
 an uncertain future. It can engage in the politics of peoples'
situations in simple straightforward ways," she added.

 In Uganda, Kaahwa has used drama to raise awareness of human
 rights as well as gender rights, according to Tobias Biancone,
secretary general of the International Theatre Institute, a
non-governmental organisation associated with UNESCO that
organises the World Theatre Day.

 He said that theatre was effective and "will never die" because
 it was done "live by humans in front of other humans". In
Africa, as in other regions, this directness meant that theatre
could be used to promote development.

 Uganda's deputy head of mission, Philip Odida, said that the
 World Theatre Day focus on Africa showed that the continent's
creative arts were "rich and flourishing" and undergoing renewed
growth as a result of new information technologies for recording,
editing, storing and distribution of sound and images.

 The playwrights and performers showed that theatre "goes beyond
 entertainment, and also serves as an important means of
instruction, information and education," Odida said.

 Many attending the day's events seemed to agree as they
 commended the performances of actors such as Thembi
Mtshali-Jones who used humour, dance and song to convey the
painful experiences of a child growing up under apartheid in
South Africa.

 The 15-minute extract of her one-woman play, 'A Woman in
 Waiting', was also international in scope, as it highlighted the
problems of domestic workers who leave their children behind to
be raised by grandparents, sending home shoes and clothes that no
longer fit.

 "The play was powerful and extraordinary because through the
 performance she managed to get us back to South Africa and to
her childhood where the laws were such that domestic workers had
to be separated from their children, seeing them only once a
year," said Vanessa Mkhize-Albertini, a Paris-based South African

 "The child had to wait for the mother to return home, and even
 when she finally got to live in the city with her parents, she
still had to wait for the mother to come home from working,"
Mkhize-Albertini told IPS. "That's the reason for the title."

 In a different vein, an actor and writer from the Central
 African Republic, Modeste Nzapassara, had the audience laughing
out loud with his portrayal of the immigrant experience in France.

 In an excerpt from 'Black Bazaar', based on the novel by Alain
 Mabanckou, he showed how ignorance about immigrants' origins can
lead to some absurd encounters, as when people in the host
country confuse the Democratic Republic of the Congo with the
Republic of the Congo and lecture immigrants on what needs to be
done "over there".

 One downside to the UNESCO World Theatre Day event, however,
 was that a percussionist troupe invited from the Sudan was
absent because they were unable to get visas to enter France.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

the House Magazine: Professor Welch on the English Baccalaureate

Both our cultural history and our modern economy are a rich blend of
music and art to which the new English Baccalaureate pays scant
attention, argues Graham Welch

read the full article:

Monday, 7 March 2011

ISME 2012: Call for presenters

30th ISME World Conference
15-20 July 2012
Thessaloniki, Greece

The call for presenters is now available! Please visit the ISME website:

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

EMC Strategy - Music and Politics, music education

The Second World Conference on Arts Education

Seoul Agenda: Goals for the Development of Arts Education

The Seoul Agenda: Goals for the Development of Arts Education is a major outcome of UNESCO's Second World Conference on Arts Education held in Seoul, the Republic of Korea, on 25 – 28 May 2010. Convened at the initiative of UNESCO, in close partnership with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Government of the Republic of Korea, the Conference gathered more than 650 officials and experts in arts education from 95 countries. The programme included a Ministerial round table, keynote speeches, panel discussions, parallel workshops, regional group discussions, an encounter with NGOs and foundations, and a special session on Arts Education and the Rapprochement of Cultures.

Work on the Seoul Agenda began a year prior to the Conference during a meeting in July 2009 of the International Advisory Committee (IAC) at UNESCO Headquarters, and culminated in a presentation of the document to the participants during the closing session of the Conference. In preparation for the Conference, the IAC continued to refine the goals via e-mail exchanges in the months following the meeting in 2009.

An amended version, which took into account comments and proposals received from members of the IAC was prepared during a meeting immediately preceding the Conference. This version of the Seoul Agenda was circulated to experts during the Conference. Presentations and debates were monitored throughout the Conference by the General Rapporteur and revisions were made to the document to reflect priorities and insights offered by the Conference participants. Revisions of an editorial nature were subsequently completed by the General Rapporteur to reflect responses received from participants after presentation of the Seoul Agenda at the close of the Conference.