"Stereobreakers": Educational and Artistic Initiative

August 5-8, 2021

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We meet almost every day, but we often don’t see a Humen being behind the labels. Prejudices leave us the opportunity to find common ground and get to know ourselves better through dialogue with the “other”.
In order to initiate a dialogue within the community, we invited young people from different groups and communities to participate in the project – Roma youth of Okhtyrka region, Roma activists from different parts of the country and Okhtyrka active youth. What came out of this – read on.

Theater workshop

This is a play that consists exclusively of the stories of people who live in our time. It raises acute social issues, shows their internal conflict, different points of view.
For what? For the audience to ask themselves questions, to have the opportunity to look at the topic more broadly, to rethink outdated views of the world, of the people around them, of themselves. There is no propaganda or speculation in the doctrine, it does not repeat popular opinions, it does not censor what is kept secret, about things that it is time to be called by their names. The play does not teach, but invites to think. After the performance there is usually a discussion with the audience.
Participants are not actors with education, but witnesses of our time – people who live nearby, and who are not indifferent to the topic and they are ready to work with it, or who have something to say about the topic. They are a bit of journalists, a bit of psychologists, but the main thing is that these people are open-hearted, ready to listen carefully and for a long time to other people, and / or tell their story openly.

These can be personal stories of the performance participants. They need maximum honesty, readiness to speak publicly about topics that are on time, but to say not what everyone is used to hearing, but what is really confusing, annoying, disturbing, painful. The participants in the play may not tell their personal stories: then they interview other people in advance (they are called “story donors”) who are relevant to the topic, and based on these interviews they will create a documentary with the director.

Our trainer, Natalia Vainilovich, practitioner of participatory theatrical directions (playback theater, theater of the oppressed, post / documentary theater), organizer of inclusive projects, head of the NGO “ART-PLAYBACK”

Observing the process...

Performative walk through the city

For three days, our participants explore the stereotypes, prejudices, distortions that exist in our society regarding the Roma, youth and the image of the city of Okhtyrka. They recorded interviews, learned the opinions of citizens – education workers, officials, cultural figures and ordinary passers-by – listened to the voices of the streets.

They noticed where and how stereotyped clichés, prejudices, and after them – the language of hostility appear.

And at the end of the theater workshop they returned to what they heard on the streets of the city …
During the performative procession, they reflected on the findings, quoted the city and invited its residents to public discussions and a new outlook on life, the problems and conflicts of our multiethnic society at both macro and micro levels.

Commemoration

During World War II, the Roma community of Okhtyrka also suffered persecution and losses as a result of the genocide. Among the residents of the city you can still hear stories about a young Roma woman who was shot on the outskirts of the city, as well as about the Roma family Voloshin, who lost a father and son – they were publicly executed in the central square. Their descendants still live here, the memory of them is also alive. But for some reason it still has no place in public space.

Therefore, it was especially important for us to show the readiness of young people to preserve the memory of historical realities and honor the dead. The names of Anton and Ivan Voloshin, as well as many of those whose lives were cut short in different parts of Europe during the genocide, were heard at the site of the last tragedy during our commemorative ceremony.

"Points of contact"

documentary performance-research

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Our partners

The project was implemented in partnership with the NGO “Street Cultures Development Center” in Okhtyrka