Starting from the reality that in Europe during the XXI century people of Romani ethnicity presently face social and economic hardships and discrimination more often than the majority of other minority groups, but also from the premise that ”the politics of inclusion” of the Roma are complex procedures, which include social, economic, educational, cultural and, not least of all, emotional aspects, we participated in, together with three other Roma theater organizations from Europe – Italy, Spain, Hungary – the project ”(Roma) Heroes in Theater Education Life”, an initiative supported by the Erasmus+ program.
The main thrust of the project was the creation of a working methodology and several workshops that had as a starting point contemporary Roma dramaturgy. The common goal of the initiative was to empower but also to develop skills, relationships between groups, creative ability, cooperation, self-expression and critical thinking among the young Roma and non-Roma with whom we worked.
Together with peer-trainers trained during several meetings in the country and abroad, we have developed working methodologies focused on contemporary Roma dramaturgy and personal development through art focused on the values of Roma theater, dramatic heroes, the heroes and heroines living around them, and their own heroic deeds.
As the first Roma theater company in Romania, Giuvlipen has been working in theater production for over 5 years and organizes workshops in which problems that Roma people and communities face daily are discussed using tools specific to dramatic art. During this period, we managed to develop practices and methodologies that have a real impact on the beneficiaries with whom we interacted. We want the approach we have developed over the years, both within our own organization and in partnership with other organizations and institutions, to become an open resource for other people or organizations who want to use creative modalities to empower young people and educate them on human rights issues.
The document presents the historical and social contexts of the project partner countries and describes the target groups with whom they work. It also shows why art in general, especially theater, storytelling and different gamification methods can develop intergroup relationships and empower young people in vulnerable communities. Through this methodology we wanted to reflect on the existing methods and cases of art and education initiatives carried out by project promoters and other organizations in their countries, which add, without a doubt, important aspects for our current work. Moreover, it also describes the Roma theater companies from different European countries and the monodramas that formed the center of the workshops. As no approach is free of dilemmas and practical questionnaires, towards the end we offer them a space for reflection, with the hope that they will be helpful points in the later stages of our activity.
The ”Roma (S)heroes” workshops brought together young Roma and non-Roma aged between 16 and 30, interested in discovering new things and creatively exploring the figure of the heroine/ hero. Together with the Erasmus+ peer trainers: Bety Pisică, Georgiana Lincan, Nicoleta Ghiță and Raj-Alexandru Udrea, the participants started from texts of contemporary Roma dramaturgy (Mihaela Drăgan, Alexandru Aristide Fifea, Marton Illes) and made a foray into the world of story-telling. They discovered new games of knowledge and self-knowledge and improvisation of content starting from the chosen fragments. The workshops took place in Mizil, Bucharest and Cluj-Napoca, and all participants received at the end of the workshop an Erasmus+ diploma, for participation in the project ”(Roma) Heroes in Theater Education and Everyday Life”.