APPLIED DOCUMENTARY THEATRE
It is imperative that this project retells actual lived experiences and verbatim accounts of how the mine is affecting people, and how they feel it may effect them in the future. To do this, we cannot rely on the traditional theatre process in which stories are imagined or interpreted by a few separate people outside of the situation, and then merely dramatized on stage.
Instead Applied Documentary Theatre allows for real personal encounters and stories to be staged, as they were heard; and arranged in a way to create a coherent and engaged narrative that is objective and accessible. The ethos of this project is to listen, and empathize with different individuals and groups who are involved in this issue, and retell their story as honestly and directly as possible, helping to clarify, simplify and embody the various different perceptions, agendas and impulses that different people carry in this complex story.
Yet this creative social practice work does not end at the staging of a performance but rather what happens on either ends of the production. In the build up to the performance, there is a collaborative research process in which interviews and group forum exchanges provide real living testimonials of how the Fuleni Coal Deal will affect different people. In these early exchanges there is an opportunity to provide valuable capacity development that can encourage empathetic and non-violent dialogue between different parties, and provides capacities that will productively support future negotiations. These include developing personal capacities such as imaginative listening, empathy and moral intuition.
After the performance, there is the opportunity to create dialogue led by a trained facilitator that allows exchange between the audience and the actors themselves where the actors either stay in character or speak as themselves. This process is facilitated to allow for various questions, ideas and thoughts that are aroused and inspired by the performance to be aired publicly, and explored in a collaborative safe way. This context and social space is new and free from some of the conventional social dynamics that surround traditional discussions and exchanges.
A key aspect of the methodology that we apply, allows us to identify the various agendas of different people in the complex Fuleni story, and then set those agendas aside and explore the deeper questions that lie between the different interested and affected parties.
"This allows for various questions, ideas and thoughts that are aroused and inspired by the performance to be aired PUBLICLY, and explored in a collaborative safe way."