Acting Together II: Performance and the Creative Transformation of Conflict

Building Just and Inclusive Communities

Preface by Pauline Ross
Afterword by Tatsushi Arai
Foreword by Salomón Lerner Febres
Edited by Cynthia E. Cohen, Roberto Gutiérrez Varea, Polly O. Walker

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Acting Together: Performance and the Creative Transformation of Conflict is a two-volume work describing peacebuilding performances in regions beset by violence and internal conflicts. Whereas Volume I, Resistance and Reconciliation in Regions of Violence, emphasizes the role theatre and ritual play both in the midst and in the aftermath of direct violence, Volume II, Building Just and Inclusive Communities, focuses on the transformative power of performance in regions fractured by "subtler" forms of structural violence and social exclusion. The case studies in this volume document examples from Afghanistan, Australia, Ghana, the Netherlands, South Africa, and the United States. This volume also offers resources, tools, and recommendations to help educators, artists, students, policymakers, and funders alike to become involved with, and contribute to, the emerging field of peacebuilding performance.

The Acting Together project documents how divided communities in conflict regions across the globe draw on the power of performance to express silenced truths, rebuild severed relationships, and work toward justice. Born in 2005 of a partnership between the International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life at Brandeis University and Theatre Without Borders, the project grew to include the two-volume anthology Acting Together, the feature-length documentary film Acting Together on the World Stage, a website of related materials, and a toolkit, or "Tools for Continuing the Conversation," included with the documentary as a second disc and featuring practical guidelines and templates for further action. Taken together, these resources yield rich case studies, theoretical frameworks, and recommendations to help practitioners, educators, students, and policymakers understand and strengthen the emerging field of peacebuilding performance.

Cynthia E. Cohen is director of the Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts at the International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life at Brandeis University.

Roberto Gutiérrez Varea began his career in theater in his native Argentina. His research and creative work focuses on live performance as means of resistance and peacebuilding, in the context of social conflict and state violence.

Polly O. Walker is assistant professor of peace and conflict studies at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. She is director of Partners in Peacebuilding, a private consulting organization based in Brisbane, Australia, and lectures widely on intercultural conflict resolution.


Title Acting Together II: Performance and the Creative Transformation of Conflict
Subtitle Building Just and Inclusive Communities
Title Part Volume 2
Preface by Pauline Ross
Afterword by Tatsushi Arai
Publisher New Village Press
Audience 06 Professional and scholarly
Audience Students and educators in Performance Studies and Theatre, Conflict Transformation, and Peace and Justice Studies; Theatre artists, cultural workers, arts advocates, and arts administrators; Peacebuilding practitioners, grassroots organizers, diplomats, aid workers and human rights activists
Title First Published 15 November 2011
Subject Scheme Identifier Code      93 Thema subject category: AT      93 Thema subject category: ATD      93 Thema subject category: GTU
Includes Index; Bibliography; Appendices


Foreword: The Rebellion of the Masks
by Dr. Salomón Lerner Febres


Preface: Speak to the Past and It Will Heal Thee
by Pauline Ross



SECTION I: Changing the World as We Know It: Contexts of Structural Violence, Social Exclusion, and Dislocation

Introduction to Section I
by Cynthia E. Cohen, Roberto Gutierrez Varea, and Polly O. Walker

Chapter 1: Performing Cross-Cultural Conversations: Creating New Kinships through Community Theatre
by Eugene van Erven and Kate Gardner

Chapter 2: Youth Leading Youth: Hip Hop and HipLife Theatre in Ghana and South Africa
by Daniel Banks

Chapter 3: Change the World as We Know It: Peace, Youth, and Performance
by Mary Ann Hunter

Chapter 4: Stories in the Moment: Playback Theatre for Building Community and Justice
by Jo Salas

Chapter 5: "Do You Smell Something Stinky?" Notes from Conversations about Making Art while Working for Peace in Racist, Imperial America in the 21st Century
John O'Neal

SECTION II: Reflections and Recommendations

Chapter 6: The Permeable Membrane and Moral Imagination: A Framework for Conceptualizing Peacebuilding Performance
by Cynthia E. Cohen with Roberto Gutierrez Varea and Polly O. Walker

Chapter 7: Lessons from the Acting Together Project
by Cynthia E. Cohen with Roberto Gutierrez Varea and Polly O. Walker

SECTION III: Resources

Introduction to Section III
by Cynthia E. Cohen

Chapter 8: Facilitating Discussion and Exchange
by Cynthia E. Cohen, John O'Neal, and Polly O. Walker

Chapter 9: Designing and Documenting Peacebuilding Performance Initiatives
by Cynthia E. Cohen with Polly O. Walker

Chapter 10: Recommendations and Action Steps for Strengthening the Peacebuilding Performance Field
by Cynthia E. Cohen with Polly O. Walker

Afterword: Reflecting on the Intersection of Art and Peacebuilding
by Tatsushi Arai








"The authors wrestle in one way or another with the reality that peace itself is a loaded and sometimes even oppressive term, harnessed to squelch unrest and struggles for justice.The performances

- Kelly Howe, Comparative Drama Journal

This book gives Shakespeare's "All the world's a stage" new meaning. Experts in foreign policy and diplomacy, conflict resolution and peacemaking, as well as theatre and performance

- Ambassador Cynthia Schneider, PhD, Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy, School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University

Political and social failures begin and end in failures of imagination. Acting Together invites a major renewal of the dramatic imagination—for the sake of social healing and

- James Carroll, columnist and author, Jerusalem, Jerusalem

Humanity [has the] capacity to inflict great suffering and unfathomable misfortune. Yet art and, as we see in this work, theatre in particular, can show us that there is a

- Dr. Salomón Lerner Febres, former President, Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Peru

Nov 20, 2012
In 1996, Back Bone Youth Arts devised a performance, "Sk8 Grrl Space," to be shown only once in a male-dominated skateboarding park in Australia. Thirteen young women played scenes that addressed women's limited access to public space. One audience member became so riled he shattered a bottle on the steep-sided skate bowl where the women performed. The smashed bottle didn't shut the performance down, but instead was incorporated into the action.

- Jean Randich, Truthdig

The recommendations of the Acting Together project are clear, grounded and convincing. The editors have demonstrated that performance can significantly contribute to the transformation of violent conflict, and can reach audiences that are inaccessible by other means. It also has the potential to support communities in mourning, those dealing with trauma and those celebrating resilience. Aesthetic excellence reinforces socio-political effectiveness if the integrity of the artistic process is respected. This comprises a strong argument for more peacebuilders to recognize and incorporate performance into their initiatives and for artists and peace-builders to explore their respective practices together. The recommendation of respecting the integrity of the artistic process will hopefully be a reminder for funders and NGOs to trust that the creative process of the performance will provide a transformative experience without the need for heavy-handed programmatic messages to be incorporated into the end-product.

- Serge Loode, Applied Theatre Research

We Also Suggest

Acting Together I: Performance and the Creative Transformation of Conflict
Resistance and Reconciliation in Regions of Violence
Catherine Filloux, Ruth Margraff, Dijana Miloševic, Charles Mulekwa, Abeer Musleh, Aida Nasrallah, Madhawa Palihapitiya, Lee Perlman