Introductions

Vision and Mission:

Vision

A peaceful, democratic and just society.

Mission

To create a peaceful, democratic & just society in collaboration with government, civil society organizations and media through, interactive communications, supporting and linkages with like-minded people’s organizations in Pakistan.

IRC’s Goals:

  • Create and strengthen interactive communication within political and social stakeholders as a mean to achieve peaceful, democratic and just society.
  • Develop and experiment innovative techniques in interactive communication to increase outreach and effectiveness of social change process.
  • Build & promote capacities & knowledge of communities (women, minority, youth & children), media, and CSOs for increasing outreach and informed advocacy in and around human rights, democratic governance and peace & justice.
  • Develop a proactive and sustainable interactive communication institute for promoting arts, culture and communication in communities.
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IRC PROFILE

1. The Dawn

  • Formed in December 2000, Interactive Resource Center (IRC) is an initiative to explore new avenues for community mobilization and dialogue in order to assist people in their struggle to regain collective power and strength.
  • The story of IRC is genesis of an idea based on social change through art-based development approach and its materialization is interactive theatre and media as a tool for change.
  • The uniqueness in IRC’s work is attributed to giving visual images to social issues. These images were used in form of interactive theatre, participatory videos/ documentaries, information material, etc.

2. Building Blocks

2.1. Vision

  • A peaceful, democratic and just society

2.2. Mission Statement

  • We believe;
  • All humans are equal and deserve fundamental freedoms
  • All cultures are equal and deserve respect
  • In non-violent and political solutions of conflicts and problems
  • Without influencing mainstream change transformation is not possible
  • Stigmas & social taboos can be challenged through dialogue & communication

2.3. Goals

Create and strengthen interactive communication within political and social stakeholders as a mean to achieve peaceful, democratic and just societyDevelop and experiment innovative techniques in interactive communication to increase outreach and effectiveness of social change processBuild & promote capacities & knowledge of communities (women, minority, youth & children), media, and CSOs for increasing outreach and informed advocacy in and around human rights, democratic governance and peace & justice. Develop a proactive and sustainable interactive communication institute for promoting arts, culture and communication in communities.2.4. Values

  • Peace and Justice for all
  • Nondiscrimination and Nonviolence
  • Basic fundamental freedom / rights for all
  • Democratic processes at all level
  • Respect for culture without comprising on universal values
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3. Techniques and Tool

3.1. Interactive Theatre

3.1.1. The Evolution of Interactive Theatre

 3 Interactive Theatre is a technique developed by Brazilian theater director Augusto Boal during the 1950s and 1960s. This particular type of theater is rooted in the pedagogical and political principles specific to the popular education method developed by Brazilian educator *Paulo Freire: 1) to see the situation lived by the participants; 2) to analyze the root causes of the situation; and 3) to act to change the situation following the precepts of social justice.
It is an effort to transform theater from the “monologue” of traditional performance into a “dialogue” between audience and stage, Boal experimented with many kinds of interactive theater. His explorations were based on the assumption that dialogue is the common, healthy dynamic between all humans, that all human beings desire and are capable of dialogue, and that when a dialogue becomes a monologue, oppression ensues. Theater then becomes an extraordinary tool for transforming monologue into dialogue. “While some people make theater,” says Boal, “we all are theater.”

3.1.2. What is Interactive Theatre?

In this form of theatre, theater is emphasized not as a spectacle but rather as a language designed to: 1) analyze and discuss problems of oppression and power; and 2) explore group solutions to these problems. This language is accessible to all.

Bridging the separation between actor (the one who acts) and spectator (the one who observes but is not permitted to intervene in the theatrical situation), the Theater of the Oppressed is practiced by “spect-actors” who have the opportunity to both act and observe, and who engage in self-empowering processes of dialogue that help foster critical thinking. The theatrical act is thus experienced as conscious intervention, as a rehearsal for social action rooted in a collective analysis of shared problems of oppression.

In short the participants are not merely spectators but a part of the drama. In the drama a social error is done. The main characters make a mistake towards the end and reach at a wrong decision (that is usually practiced in the community). Then the community is asked if the decision is correct and what would be their options. They are asked to come and perform the options that would improve the situation. In short this form of theatre is a rehearsal for life.

3.1.3. Why Interactive Theatre?

IRC’s approach to development was evolved by challenging the very techniques and tools used in development sector. In development sector we train people on human rights, gender, economic development, participatory planning, etc.The bottom-line of these trainings is very simple – a fission chain reaction – we trained a group; they would go in a community and train others, thus the number of trained people will go on increasing. This however, is not the whole truth.When asked, the trained groups generally put three questions before you:1) What if someone asks me a question and I don’t know the answer?2) Who will help us when community will condemn even more so displace us if we challenge the social norms?3) Who will give us funds to replicate the same activity the way you did i.e. in luxury hotels with all the available facilities?  4

Interactive theatre is an answer to all these questions. In interactive theatre you do not speak truth and make deliberate social error. Then again community itself gives comments and suggestions to make changes and adjustments. Thereof, there is no fear that someone might prove you wrong as you don’t have to answer the question, instead you raise a question and community gives the answer.

As the community is finding solution to a problem and challenging the norms themselves, there is no fear of opposition from the community.

Finally you don’t require resources to perform a drama. It can be performed anywhere on streets, under trees, in community centers, etc. and you don’t even need stationary and other material normally required to conduct a workshop.

Thereof, interactive theatre provides an alternate approach to development.

3.1.4. IRC’s Innovation in Interactive Theatre

5 IRC believe that interactive theatre is voice of common people of Pakistan. Pakistan has rich cultural traditions. Our folk lore, local stories, and music give an insight of our social practices. It also serves as a bond between people. IRC has used this bond and associated folk lore, local music and stories with interactive theatre.This has helped at two levels:1) local people associated themselves with interactive theater as it was displaying their culture. This has established their trust in interactive theatre.2) As this form of theatre portrayed their stories in their language, people broke the communication barriers and started a dialogue on issues and problems faced by the communities. This has also negated the myth that Pakistan is a close society and theatre would not flourish in Pakistan as development tool.

Using this technique IRC discussed all kind of community issues such as bonded labour, child rights, political problems, accountability of local governments, environmental problems, minority rights, discriminatory laws, peace, traumas, and disasters.

3.2. Using media as innovations in interactive theatre

Interpersonal communication is the best tool to put across your thoughts. It however, comes with limitations the major being mass outreach.IRC has continued its endeavor for social development by changing attitudes and behaviors. There are certain issues however, that requires more than behavioral change to get resolved.At times the issue requires legislative reforms, effective policy implementation, changing systems and structures, etc. If the problem is with the fabric there is no point in changing the design. This mobilized IRC to rethink its strategies and with this comes the realization that change is not possible without influencing the mainstream.For influencing the mainstream one requires mass advocacy which is not possible with theatre alone. While theatre has provided IRC a strong grip in communities, media becomes another tool for influencing mainstream for effective and complete circle of social change. IRC has used media as a tool to link micro with macro issues.

Currently IRC has become a resource center that is developing participatory/ community videos, documentaries, video profiles, talk shows, etc. IRC is using various sources such as cable networks, TV channels, Radio, web-based TVs for dissemination of its messages.

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4. Supporting Pillars

4.1. Membership IRC is a member of;

  • Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed (PTO)’, a global forum designed to promote critical thinking and social justice.
  • Member ‘FORMAAT, Forum Theatre and Workshops’, an international forum of theatre of the oppressed practitioners and activists
  • Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), a human rights watch organization
  • People’s Forum,
  • Joint Action Committee (JAC),
  • Committee for People’s Rights,
  • People for Peace
  • AASHA, a network for promoting women rights and bringing an end to sexual harassment
7 4.2. Trainers’ PoolIRC has a pool of experienced trainers of interactive theatre and media. At present a team of 12 master trainers in interactive theatre skills and 5 trainers in media productions skills are associated with IRC.4.3. Theatre GroupsIRC has formed some 80 theatre groups in 88 districts of Pakistan. From metropolitan cities like Lahore to remote areas such as Juhi, IRC has managed to mobilize non-actors from within the communities to voice out their problems through theatre performances. At present there are some 800 theatre activists trained by IRC including 50 % women from remote areas of Pakistan.

4.4. Media Groups

As an innovation to interactive theatre, IRC also introduced the concept of participatory community videos. To materialize this task IRC selected three members from its four theatre groups (from Multan, Haiderabad, Mirpur Khas and Lahore) and provided them training on video

documentation skills. They were then provided with camera, tripods and mics. These groups film social issues of their areas and send these to IRC and other news channels. The technical skill and community outreach of these groups is also acknowledged by BBC Urdu Service Online that is taking these community videos and posting them on their website for mass dissemination. IRC is now in process of developing capabilities of 4 women groups in filming.
4.5. Social Action Group

In four districts where IRCs media groups exist, 4 Social Action Groups were formed. These groups comprise of doctors, lawyers, elected representatives, media personnel, human rights activists, etc. The main aim of formation of these groups is to act as safety net for members of media and theatre groups and provide them moral and legal support if required.

5. We Offer

5.1. Interactive Theatre

The Interactive Resource Centre is functioning as a resource centre that equips other organizations with theatrical and advocacy skills. The organization follows a fix process for the purpose of training a theatre group which is as follows:

Group selection/identification
Eight days theatre training workshop which includes:
Background of interactive theatre, its evolution, its need, viability and effectiveness
Identification of community problems using social mapping technique and initiating a debate on all the possible aspects of the problem
Different physical and vocal exercises to develop clear understanding of interactive theatre and to be able to perform with confidence on stage
Theatre performances in respective communities
Recording and editing of theatre performances to serve as resource material for other development sector organizations
In addition to the training, IRC’s performers develop and perform plays on various social issues. IRC regularly organizes Annual Theatre Festival to promote and flourish interactive theatre in Pakistan.

5.2. Media Unit

IRC’s media unit is fully equipped with latest production and post production instruments. The media unit owns a purpose-built hall for media productions, editing and sound room.IRC media unit team includes cameramen, editors, script writers and producers. The media unit has produced documentaries on women rights, bonded labour, Theatre of the Oppressed, children rights, and earthquake. It has also produced video recordings of various plays staged by IRC and other theatre groups, and video profiles of various organizations. 8

5.3. Resource Material

5.3.1. Video Recordings

More than 130 recorded interactive theatre plays. In addition to these IRC has also developed documentaries on human rights issues, women rights, honour killing,courageous women, Afghanistan rehabilitation, Kashmir earthquake, bonded labour, social and political problems of Pakistan, etc. IRC has also developed video profiles of many NGOs in Pakistan.

5.3.2. Publications

IRC regularly publish information material on theatre, media and social issues. Some of these publications are: First Step (Case study of people whose lives were changed due to interactive theatre); Theatre of the Oppressed (Urdu translation of Augusto Boal’s Book); Theatre of the Oppressed Training Manual (Michal Chang); Journey through the Lives of Courageous Women (A story of four real life heroes); Poster on Peace; A New Millennium (IRC”s Report, 2000-2002); IRC’s Annual Report (2003-2004); and Publications on IRC’s Annual Theatre of the Oppressed Festivals

6. Our Credentials

1. Introduced innovative techniques of interactive theatre as an awareness tool in Pakistan

2. Amongst the four finalist in the category of Creative Arts for World Cultural Open Award 2004

3. Interactive Theatre technique is acknowledged in New Tactics Workshop as effective tool for generating dialogue on human rights issues

4. Formed 80 theatre groups in 88 Pakistani cities having membership of some 800 theatre /social activists

5. Video documentation of social issues developed by IRC is being shown to students of Women Studies Department of Allama Iqbal Open University

6. IRC resource material on interactive theatre and video documentation of social issues is kept in New York University’s South Asian Movies Department

7. IRC’s community videos are uploaded on BBC Urdu Service Online

8. A resource pool of 12 master trainers in interactive theatre skills and 5 media trainers

9. More than 3000 theatre performances in Pakistan and abroad

10. Telecasted participatory theatre performances on cable networks in respective communities

11. Conducted workshop on Interactive Theatre for Conflict Resolution in New York for interactive theatre performers from around the world

12. ActionAid acknowledges Interactive Theatre in its Peer View Report & External Review Report – 2004 Interactive

13. Theatre is included as core program component in advocacy campaigns initiated by government and non government organizations

14. “When you come into the theater, you have to be willing to say, “We’re all here to undergo a communion, to find out what the hell is going on in this world.” If you’re not willing to say that, what you get is entertainment instead of art, and poor entertainment at that, ” DAVID MAMET, Three Uses of the Knife.

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