Theatre can transcend struggles around the globe

UVic prof brings theatre experiences to TEDx Victoria, Nov. 21

University of Victoria applied theatre professor Kirsten Sadeghi-Yekta, second from left, has worked with theatre groups around the world, including Cambodia. Sadeghi-Yekta will discuss her experiences as part of TEDx Victoria Nov. 21.

University of Victoria applied theatre professor Kirsten Sadeghi-Yekta, second from left, has worked with theatre groups around the world, including Cambodia. Sadeghi-Yekta will discuss her experiences as part of TEDx Victoria Nov. 21.

Greater Victoria is home to a thriving theatre scene, producing plays that entertain or educate, plays that help us escape or make us think, yet it might come as a surprise that theatre is doing those very same things in some of the most desperate communities on the planet.

From refugee camps in Texas to impoverished Brazilian favelas to recovering war-torn communities in Nicaragua and Cambodia, theatre is alive and well.

University of Victoria applied theatre professor Kirsten Sadeghi-Yekta has visited theatre communities around the globe, including children in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side, young people in Brazilian favelas, disabled women in Cambodia, adolescents in Nicaragua and students with special needs in The Netherlands. She’ll explore these and other experiences at TEDxVictoria Nov. 21.

Her journey started in Nicaragua.

About 12 years ago, the Netherlands-born Sadeghi-Yekta was travelling through Central America, including Nicaragua, still recovering from years of conflict.

“I met a young lady who dreamed of having a theatre school in her neighbourhood,” Sadeghi-Yekta recalls. Working together, “a few years later the theatre was established and it’s still going strong today.”

The reasons theatre blossoms in places that have suffered – and sometimes are still suffering – are diverse.

“It resonates. It transcends. People are happy to have a sense of ‘normal’ and I think it also gives a sense of hope, that there is something else,” says Sadeghi-Yekta, introduced to theatre as a child, when her mother took her to her first play. Then, she was struck by the fictional world unfolding in front of her. Later she became aware of the other possibilities theatre affords, such as exploring social justice issues and community building.

The forms theatre takes in struggling communities is diverse, varying from culture to culture, and with what the community is experiencing at the time – is it in the midst of violence, for example, or recovering?

In Brazil’s favelas she found “people have this enormous energy to work together and make (theatre) happen.”

The company she observed was typically adapting classical theatre, such as Henrik Ibsen’s plays or Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and incorporating elements such as Brazilian music and capoeira to explore issues relevant to locals.

“They used that very traditional aesthetic in a traditional setting because they can see how these stories can easily translate into their daily lives.”

Seeing what people can do with theatre in these settings also pushes Sadeghi-Yekta to ask what more can be done in places that have greater resources. “If they can do it in that situation, what can we do when we have an easier life? It’s very inspiring,” she says.

Also, “I would like the audience to know there are a lot of assumptions about people in developing countries and war zones, that there is no theatre, just because we haven’t written about it.”

Looking ahead, Sadeghi-Yekta hopes to visit Texas to learn about the art Central American orphans are creating in a refugee camp, and return to Nicaragua. “It reminds me of how it all started,” she reflects.

TEDx Victoria welcomes eclectic speaker lineup

Greater Victoria is home to a thriving theatre scene, producing plays that entertain or educate, plays that help us escape or make us think, yet it might come as a surprise that theatre is doing those very same things in some of the most desperate communities on the planet.

From refugee camps in Texas to impoverished Brazilian favelas to recovering war-torn communities in Nicaragua and Cambodia, theatre is alive and well.

University of Victoria applied theatre professor Kirsten Sadeghi-Yekta has visited theatre communities around the globe, including children in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side, young people in Brazilian favelas, disabled women in Cambodia, adolescents in Nicaragua and students with special needs in The Netherlands. She’ll explore these and other experiences at TEDxVictoria Nov. 21.

Her journey started in Nicaragua.

About 12 years ago, the Netherlands-born Sadeghi-Yekta was travelling through Central America, including Nicaragua, still recovering from years of conflict.

“I met a young lady who dreamed of having a theatre school in her neighbourhood,” Sadeghi-Yekta recalls. Working together, “a few years later the theatre was established and it’s still going strong today.”

The reasons theatre blossoms in places that have suffered – and sometimes are still suffering – are diverse.

“It resonates. It transcends. People are happy to have a sense of ‘normal’ and I think it also gives a sense of hope, that there is something else,” says Sadeghi-Yekta, introduced to theatre as a child, when her mother took her to her first play. Then, she was struck by the fictional world unfolding in front of her. Later she became aware of the other possibilities theatre affords, such as exploring social justice issues and community building.

The forms theatre takes in struggling communities is diverse, varying from culture to culture, and with what the community is experiencing at the time – is it in the midst of violence, for example, or recovering?

In Brazil’s favelas she found “people have this enormous energy to work together and make (theatre) happen.”

A diverse line-up of speakers is featured in the fifth-annual TEDx  Victoria, at the McPherson Playhouse, Centennial Square and Victoria City Hall Nov. 21.

This year’s theme is “impact,” exploring not only the impact of the “Ideas Worth Spreading” featured on the McPherson stage, but also our own impact – and what spreading ideas does to make the world a better place.

The upper mezzanine of the McPherson will again become a speaker lounge, where audience members can connect directly with the speakers.

City hall will become an active space, a venue of interactive art and imagination where local artists, inventors and innovators will come together to showcase some of the region’s art and technology.

Founded in 2010, TEDxVictoria has grown from 400 attendees in 2011 to more than 750 in 2013. TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California 30 years ago, TED has grown to support its mission with multiple initiatives. TEDx are local, self-organized TED-style events.

 

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cindy Foggit plays the lead role of Eliza in Passion and Performance’s film production Eliza: An Adaption of a Christmas Carol. (Courtesy of Rachel Paish)
Victoria adult dance studio releases modern adaption of A Christmas Carol

Instead of usual stage performance, dance studio turns to film

Braden Holtby’s new mask designed in collaboration with Luke Marston and David Gunnarsson. (Mike Wavrecan photo)
Vancouver Island Coast Salish artist unveils new mask for Canucks goalie

Braden Holtby’s new mask features artwork by Luke Marston inspired by the legend of the seawolf

Comox-based cinematographer Maxwel Hohn’s new documentary captures the lives of Vancouver Island’s coastal wolves. Photo courtesy Maxwel Hohn.
New mini-documentary shot on Vancouver Island echoes the ‘call of the coastal wolves’

Photography heavyweights from B.C. come together for Maxwel Hohn’s second wildlife documentary

The 2021 Victoria Film Festival includes Vancouver Island produced feature film All-in Madonna. The festival looks a bit different this year, but film-lovers can still expect a full and diverse lineup. (Courtesy of VFF)
Victoria Film Festival returns with virtual viewing

Lineup features 50 films including Vancouver Island-produced All-in Madonna

Joy Sharpe holds a picture of her late husband Ray while posing for a photograph with the Sybil Andrews painting ‘hauling’ before donating it to the Campbell River Hospice Society. (Submitted photo)
$6 painting turned into $10,000 charity windfall

A 1952 original Sybil Andrews painting donation fetches Campbell River Hospice Society a nice return

Dr. John Hooper is the new conductor of Island Voices. Photo supplied
Island Voices welcomes new conductor

Dr. John Hooper to lead mid-Island based choir

Jorie Benjamin does a modern dance performance to ‘La Vie en rose’ by Édith Piaf, Louis Gugliemi and Marguerite Monnot, choreographed by Elise Sampson during the Cowichan Music Festival’s Highlights Concert at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre on March 1, 2020. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Cowichan Music Festival cancelled for 2021

The festival had already been limited to solo performances only for 2021

<em>Chinook Salmon: Breaking Through</em> by B.C.’s Mark Hobson was selected among 13 entries as the winner of the Pacific Salmon Foundation’s Salmon Stamp Competition.
Stained-glass lighting casts a win to B.C. salmon artist

Painting of chinook is Mark Hobson’s third win in annual contest

Apollonian means “serene, calm, or well-balanced; poised & disciplined”. The natural photo art for the album includes Vancouver Island mountains, rivers and beaches. Scenes from the Cowichan River, Witchcraft Lake, Pipers Lagoon, Wall Beach and other popular Island recreation destinations accentuate the album. (RICHIErichieRichie Music Publishing photo)
Serenity Now! Richie Valley debuts third LP dubbed Apollonian

Apollonian means “serene, calm, or well-balanced; poised & disciplined”

Victoria artist Noah Layne is conducting online workshops on portrait drawing as part of the Metchosin ArtPod’s About Face portrait show. (Photo courtesy of Noah Layne)
Metchosin Art Pod doing an about-face

Renowned artist Noah Layne hosting online classes in portrait drawing

This weekend Amy Pye is holding a virtual book launch for her latest children’s book, <em>Bruce the Silly Goose</em>. (Photo courtesy Amy Pye)
Victoria writer and illustrator pens children’s book about COVID-19 safety

Amy Pye to hold online book launch for ‘Bruce the Silly Goose’

The pantomime ‘Snow White and the 5 Dwarfs’ has been cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions. (Submitted)
Pantomime cancelled in Cowichan due to COVID restrictions

A partnership of the Cowichan Musical Society, the Shawnigan Players, and the Mercury Players.

A rendering shows the entrance planned for the Hornby Island Arts Centre. Image supplied
Work on Hornby Island Arts Centre to start this month

Community worked with award-winning architectural firm on design

Most Read