Teatro di Nascosto – Hidden Theatre, under the direction of Annet Henneman, has been making theatre reportage for sixteen years. Theatre reportage uses the stage as a medium of journalism, telling true stories of people and communities without a voice who are living through war and its aftermath, under oppression or in poverty. The work is undertaken principally in and between Europe and the Middle East. Below is an introduction to Theatre Reportage, its motivations, its techniques and its aims, as developed by Teatro di Nascosto.
To tell the stories of the people without voice: those who live war, oppression, big poverty, gender issues, or other problems that isolate them. To create less distance with the rest of the world, in many cases, with the Western world.
The distance makes that people don’t have a connection and/or don’t feel involved in the problems, wars, and so on. This makes that there is often no understanding for what people live in their daily life in these situations and as a consequence no understanding for who are refugees, economic immigrants, so they can easily be looked at as invaders or worse as “terrorists”, or the ones to come to take jobs in the Western world.
Theatre reportage inside the countries and theatre reportage with refugees creates the possibility to tell the true stories of the people themselves, giving a different perspective, sharing a life of war, giving a significance to a traumatized life (like young people in Iraq who lived 3 wars and still the bombs of today)… going through their own history…
It is a peaceful way to see their own situation from different perspective. Also, theatre reportage, for actors, for the audience, creates better understanding between people in conflict, seeing, and living for moments the situation of people who are “enemies”, gives the understanding that we are all similar, mothers, fathers, children, lovers… who suffer from losing our dear ones.
By telling their true stories. Creating performances that tell the daily life. Using storytelling, singing, dancing, images like photos, filmed images, but most it is the actors that immersing themselves in the realities of the lives they tell, can create a level of sharing a faraway reality with the audience on an emotional, intellectual and total level.
Telling these stories in theatre reportages for audiences in theatres, public squares, schools, government chambers (for those who govern, make rules and laws), anywhere possible, sharing the faraway realities, to show what is behind the superficial, behind numbers (20 million refugees is a number that does not provoke a total reaction, one story of a refugee mother can give that 20 million number a huge content)…
Training in Theatre:
Anthropologized physical training, voice training:
The actors need to be able physically, mentally, emotionally to come near to the people whose stories they want to tell (the body language in different countries Iran, Iraq, Rwanda, Congo and so on are very different, as are the ways of using voice, singing, dancing).
Training in neutrality:
To enter into the different culture, one has to be able to step into a person’s life with different opinions, religions, ways of life. To step in that fully, to come as near as possible, one has to leave behind all one’s own habits, ways of thinking, to come to be able to understand, to feel as the person who is being played or whose story is being told. So it required training in self-awareness and awareness/knowledge of the behaviour of others.
Dealing with trauma, hate, aggression:
How to deal with these, within oneself, with others, in a social bigger context.
Training in Journalism:
Living the situation of the people whose stories will be told. To live the difficulties, fear, pain, joy, all of the daily life, of these people. Interviews do not give the experience of daily life so this part is very important in theatre reportage.
One should be updated about the actual history and the past of a country, a people, a situation one wants to tell about. So it requires a research, following news and information from different points of view to get a large overview that can help to understand the situation. For the journalistic theatre, one should, like e.g. Amnesty International, remain with the facts and keep out of being part of any political party or movement… Independence is the base for having communication channels with everyone.
Training in Interview:
One should learn how to make questions, how to leave the superficial to reach a deeper level.