I almost forgot to mention an exciting new initiative starting in Northern Israel by a drama therapist in Kiryat Shmona. Nira Kaplanski and colleagues have started a series of workshops with emigrant Ethiopian communities using puppetry in Playback Theatre. I was most taken by the group, who had never previously been exposed to theatre or performance of any type. Although they were a really introvert bunch, which is completely understandable in a new country amongst strangers - the moment they put the puppets on, they seemed to forget their inhibitions and creatively express their inner most thoughts to their peers.
I first encountered Playback Theatre, while in Cape Town and conducting workshops for the Bonfire Theatre, who use Playback to enable communities to tell their stories. I taught them how to incorporate puppetry and objects into their special work.
Jonathan Fox, the founder of Playback Theatre, describes Playback as creativity, integrity and a willingness to truly work together. "We do it to use our bodies. We do it to tell our stories. And there's something more - we do it to make it possible for others to tell their story and to make the world a more peaceful place."
In an article by Hannah Fox, published in the Interplay Journal in May 2005, she talks about the objectives of her Playback Theatre group in New York:
"We identified four objectives for the project: to make space for recent, struggling immigrants to tell stories and receive support; to use the series of performances as a way to honor the bustling multi-culturalism of our city; to use the venue as a means to expose our work to the general public; and to honor the journeys of our own parents, grandparents and great-grandparents."
If you are interested in more information about the Israeli Project, you can contact Nira here!