Practitioners from four of London’s theatres spent the final months of 2007 proving that the reach and effect of Theatreland goes far beyond the boundaries of London and the UK. Sending videos via the internet, workers from the Almeida, Hampstead, Roundhouse and Young Vic connected with those at Theatre for a Change (TfaC), an African non-governmental organisation using theatre to change ways of life.
The InterACT! project gave the participants a chance to share ideas, stories and information about their work, lives and countries, with both sides learning from their counterparts on different continents. Among those taking part were Young Vic Audience Development Co-ordinator Gabby Vautier and director Jacqui Rice, who is currently working with Company Of Angels Theatre Company, who says in one of her videos: “What really hits you, and is an absolute joy to see and hear, is the passion and commitment everyone has for the work they are doing. The warmth each TfaC participant communicates is utterly palpable.”
The project was created by Ned Glasier, who had been working with TfaC since September 2007, with funding from a SOLT/TMA Rupert Rhymes Bursary.
Theatre for a Change was founded in 2003 by Patrick Young, with the aim of training teachers to use interactive theatre as a way of educating and encouraging behaviour change, particularly in relation to HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnancy and human rights. Originally based in Ghana, the NGO now also operates in Malawi – where 14.2% of adults are HIV positive and 102 doctors serve a population of over 12 million – Togo and Burkina Faso. In the past five years it has trained more than 3,000 teachers and helped 17,500 children.
In addition to the InterACT! initiative, TfaC has also recently formed a new partnership with theatre company Complicité, which has helped through training, shared practice and funding.
Speaking about InterACT!, Patrick Young, Director of Theatre for a Change said: “This platform is one that we would like to build on in the future, with increasing numbers of young people sharing their experiences of making theatre, and exploring ways in which this process can change their lives and the lives of other people. Everyone in TfaC is committed to this, and we look forward to a really exciting future of InterACT! online.”