Interfaith Youth Theatre
The inter-faith theatre/drama project was implemented with the aim that young people from different religious backgrounds:
- Will have opportunities to freely express their views, fears and concerns and be able to challenge any negative attitudes and practices (including stereo type beliefs) which often are the root causes for prejudice, hatred, fear and related negativity
- Will have opportunities to learn about the core values of different religions, which would enable them to appreciate and understand each other and learn to respect, trust and love others
With this in aim, the Mosaic Community Trust with the help of a paid volunteer theatre teacher (Simon Humphreys) and a volunteer theatre director (David Salter) conducted several preliminary informal surveys in the community using focus group discussions and brainstorming exercises.
The preliminary preparatory work was undertaken during the period May – September 2006, when the project design was developed and appropriate relationships were being built with various community based youth organisations including at the places of worship.
The workshop started on Monday 23rd October 2006 at Westbourne Park Baptist Church and finished on Friday 27th October 2006. On an average, there were 10 young people from Muslim, Hindu and Christian faith backgrounds.
The first activity, and this was how we began each day, was to read the daily newspapers, searching for headlines and articles that interested the young people and were connected in some way to their personal beliefs, faith or religion. The findings were then collated on the board.
Topics discussed on the first day were:
- Global Warming and climate Change
- Anti-Muslim feelings in response to the 7/7 bombings
- Personal expression of faith
- Negative aspects of media
- Peer pressure
From these topics, the participants then began devising and rehearsing 15 short sketches, using satirical comedy to get their message across to the audience. They wanted to educate and entertain them. Each sketch had to end with a ‘punch line’ to really punctuate the scene and emphasise the message.
Feedback from Participants:
The response from the students was very positive and one of the best examples was that we were able to get along and integrate with each other regardless of gender, age or ethnicity. We became a powerful unit and rehearsed and socialised together.
We also felt able to articulate our personal beliefs and feelings on a range of topics and were confident about performing in front of an audience, which came through sustained rehearsal and support.
There was a great sense of ownership for the students as most of the ideas and much of the dialogue, themes and structure had come from them.
The facilitator was not so much a director as a facilitator and supporter and the bulk of the work was done by the students themselves. As a result there was an excellent work ethic and a sustained and lively pace of work.
The proof of this was in the final performance on Thursday October 26th at 6.00 p.m. which was very well attended by family, friends, religious leaders and by our guest of honour, Councillor Jan Prendergast.
There were over 70 people in the audience, which was extremely encouraging.