We don’t just throw this together you know…

Malcolm J

Tapestry is currently touring schools and is our participatory theatre programme that explores violent extremism. In the story Jason, Hassan and Nazia find themselves in a derelict shop, taking cover as a protest they are involved in becomes violent. Jason and Hassan are from opposing ends of the radical spectrum with Nazia caught in the middle. (You can read more about this in the previous blog entry “We just have to figure out how to weave the strands together”.)

As we continue to tour Tapestry a lot of the young people we meet are suggesting that Jason and Hassan stop fighting, become friends, talk to one another and other people. This is great and of course good advice, but I am left wondering how that can happen as there seems to be too great a divide between them.
Thinking about this, it occurs to me that they have already started to break down the barriers, they have begun to talk, and more, they begin to understand. During their enforced time in the closed down shop they begin to share their life experiences, they begin to “live life in the others shoes” [Pupil at King Edward VI Aston]. The complexity of the situation becomes apparent and challenges the simplistic rhetoric of Peter Jeffries and Dr Farooq.

During the programme Jason and Hassan are drawn into playing out moments from each other’s lives, and in taking on roles in each others stories they begin to gain insight. They are part of the stories as they are being told but are free to contribute from their own understanding of the world. Hassan, Jason and Nazia comment on the actions of others, question, advise and challenge, just as the young people participating in Tapestry can.

As a company we are committed to using participatory drama as a tool for learning because it allows young people, and adults for that matter, to wrangle with the complexities of the real world from the safety of the story whilst at the same time being part of it.

In the story of Tapestry it is drama that enables Hassan, Jason and Nazia to begin to see the other points of view, to know how it feels from the other side, to understand the complexity of the situation and begin to see the possibility of change. In just the same way as the young people participating in Tapestry the programme begin to see different points of view, understand the complexity of the situation and to begin to see the possibility of change.

Not only does the programme stand alongside the rest of our participatory theatre programmes, it also celebrates our way of working, with the characters in the story learning through drama.

The programme has become an advocate for our way of working.

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