Colombia – Theatre and Reconciliation
ImaginAction has been working in Colombia to introduce Theatre as tool for Reconciliation and Peace work
Hector was interviewed by Cercapaz about Forum Theatre and his work; read the article in Spanish here. Latino LA published Diane’s article (this time in English) about the work in Colombia. Finally, you can read an account of Hector’s return to Medellin here in Colombia Reports.
In 2017 ImaginAction has been increasing it’s presence and activities in Colombia
Palestine – ARTivism and non violence
In October 2008, ImaginAction sponsored The Olive Tree Circus’s visit to the West Bank of occupied Palestine. The Circus–a collective of peace advocates, human rights activists, parents, nurses, farmers, cooks, artists, teachers, land surveyors, performers, Palestinians, Jews and Christians– toured the villages surrounding Bethlehem and Ramallah during the last two weeks in October. They worked with youth in the refugee camps, the YMCA in Bethlehem and a neighborhood theatre group, Alharh, to create puppets out of local recycled items. They taught circus skills and left equipment for ongoing collective projects, ultimately creating a space for Palestinian youth to channel their aspirations, fears, and creative energies using theatre. Hector accompanied the tour, performing and offering Theatre of the Oppressed workshops in the camps around Bethlehem. Upon their return to the U.S. the Circus shared their experiences with more performances and slideshows. Read about this work here.
Since than ImaginAction has continued to engage and create projects in Palestine and abroad on the Palestinian issue
N. Ireland – Community arts in residence
ImaginAction in Northern Ireland:
Since 2010 ImaginAction’s director, Hector Aristizabal has been invited each year by Pauline Ross, director of The Playhouse in Derry, and Elaine Forde, director of the ICAN (International Culture Arts Network) Project, to work with diverse communities in Northern Ireland. ImaginAction has trained local theater practitioners and other professionals in the use of Theater of the Oppressed and other methods to address issues related to post-conflict society and reconciliation. We have worked with groups from both Catholic and Protestant backgrounds including ex-combatants, troubled youth, and children on issues including violence and suicide prevention. More than 25 internationals have benefited from one-month internships with ImaginAction thanks to this collaboration.
An overview of The Playhouse ICAN project (2010-2013) in which ImaginAction has participated developing 5 residencies. ICAN was an innovative venture that drew upon the international connections of The Playhouse with the aim of bringing world-renowned artists to the counties at the interface of Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. The aim of ICAN was to facilitate the exchange of skills and knowledge between international and local community arts practitioners who use The Arts, in all its form, as the neutral vehicle to bridge barriers between current and formerly conflicted areas world-wide.
In the frigid frost of February 2011, Hector Aristizabal and four international apprentices facilitated a one-month Tools of ImaginAction residency project in Derry, Northern Ireland. For five weeks the five artists gave workshops and masterclasses in Derry and the Greater Shantallow area to the north. The project culminated in a night of forum theatre–three new plays created by and for the community about substance abuse, domestic violence and religious sectarianism. This project also forged a new apprenticeship paradigm for ImaginAction as apprentices worked side-by-side with Hector:
The following autumn, we returned to Northern Ireland–not to Derry, but her sister city Belfast in the west.
Following a similar apprenticeship model, Hector mentored three artists–Allegra Fonda-Bonardi, Uri Noy-Meir and Christine Baniewicz–and as a team, the four worked with a variety of groups in Belfast. At 174 Trust, a youth community reconciliation project, we brought bi-weekly workshops and theatre games. Uri introduced the video camera to the group, and spearheaded our editing efforts to produce the video you see below:
We also worked with the Pathways program from at-risk youth. Working with three groups of teens–Protestant, Catholic, and one mixed group–we introduced the basics of forum theatre, image theatre and improvisation. Uri led participatory photography exercises. Christine gave poetry workshops. At the culmination of our time together, we presented a video of their work:
USA – SOA Watch & Anti torture activism
It’s been 30 years since Colombian soldiers kidnapped, beat, tortured, starved and electro-shocked Hector Aristizabal — but it’s a memory he lives with everyday. Aristizabal said the Colombian military held and tortured him for ten days, all for having a “subversive book.” “Few people have survived torture in Colombia, so I am very lucky to tell this story. Most people get tortured for ten days, that’s the standard, and then they get shot and killed,” said Aristizabal. “Many have been disappeared — more than 80,000.” Aristizabal says that the Colombian soldiers who tortured him and later killed his brother were trained right here on American soil, at the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia. Retired Army Major Joseph Blair was an instructor at the School of the Americas, which has since been renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. “I was very much in favor of the School of the Americas during the Cold War era,” Major Blair said. But Major Blair said he was horrified to learn of what his former students did with their anti-communist training in their own countries. “The classified manuals that the Army School of the Americas used had the words interrogate, extortion, assassinate, neutralize — in common layman’s terms, it all equates to torture,” Blair said. Graduates from the School of the Americas have been implicated in massacres and torture throughout the hemisphere — including the murder of six Jesuit priests and four American churchwomen in El Salvador. [taken from Trained for Pain: get your torture degree from School of the Americas, a Russia Today reportage, July 2011]
SOAW vigil at For Benning, Georgia
Several of ImaginAction collaborators have participated in the yearly vigil at the gates of WHINSEC (Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) formerly known as the School of the Americas. We collaborate with puppetistas from all over the country in the creation of a pageant that tells of the many massacres committed by the school’s graduates in South and Central America. We participate in the annual ritual of mourning to remember the dead and disappeared, culminating in a return-to-life celebration and a commitment to closing the school and ending militarism.
Click here to see videos of our work with SOAW and anti-torture activism.
You can only oppress people for so long, article published in SOLIDARITY Magazine about hector’s involvement in Anti-torture activism. Online version.
More about the School of the Americas Watch: http://www.soaw.org/
Senegal – Theatre of the Oppressed and Social change
ImaginAction Artists have collaborated with local practitioners in training and creating forum theatre in Senegal
Ten day residence in Toubab Dialaw:
Learning journeys to Senegal:
Forum Theatre workshop at the Building Resilience and Adaptation to climate Extremes Forum:
Nightwind – 200+ performances in 53 countries across the globe
In a harrowing solo performance, Hector Aristizábal reenacts his arrest and torture by the US-supported military in Colombia and explores possible outcomes–violent rage? Or channeling that energy into the peace movement? Nightwind was created in collaboration with director BJ Dodge, writer Diane Lefer and musician Enzo Fina.
Click here for a selection of photos from the show.
After the thirty-minute performance, Hector leads an interactive workshop with the audience to process the show. Using dynamic mediation and image theatre, he invites those present to explore their own reactions to the existence of torture as well as to create images of its potential transformation.
Click here to see video of the full performance.
Click on the video to see more about the play and the interactive workshop: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2UQOP5yE40w
To invite Héctor and Nightwind to your community, contact us by clicking here!