Elliott Eisner suggested that art can provide valuable lessons for dealing with the ambiguous nature of a partially ordered world. Art can enhance imagination, present multiple perspectives, and enlarge personal interpretation; it nurtures capabilities that can open up new solutions and opportunities for action.

 Interactive dramatic theater increases audience engagement while exploring complex issues. Scenes from daily life in the community are performed live by trained actors, stopping at pivotal points so the audience can interact with the actors. These sessions result in highly energized and lively discussions both within and across normal community divisions. When our creative side is engaged and our usual defense mechanisms are lowered, we have the possibility, even if for a brief moment, to let ourselves walk in the shoes of the other and develop our empathic nature to become both a sponge and a bridge, using what ATC calls the 'Interactive Dramatic Lens'.

LAOU “What If” was developed from programs Crystina Wyler, President and Founder of Art Transforms Conflict, had originally implemented through her company The Artful Communicator. Ms. Wyler had spent a number of years working with inner-city children in the United States, applying the concepts of interactive dramatic theater to engage youth struggling with gang violence, poverty, and social issues. After conducting workshops for Concern / Lebanon trainers in late 2014 focusing on techniques to open lines of communication within Syrian refugee groups, she and her partner Tanya Awad Ghorra realized that interactive dramatic theater was a means through which refugees and the host communities could more effectively engage and interact. Additionally it could also address some of the deep-seated psychological and social challenges faced by the men and youth whose lives had been turned upside down. This volatile population lacked programs addressing their specific needs and challenges, leading to increases in radicalization, gender-based violence and negative coping strategies.

LAOU in Lebanon was executed in November / December 2015 with presentations in Akkar and Tripoli in Northern Lebanon. Over 200 Syrians took part and the response was overwhelmingly enthusiastic. To read the full report, click the button below.

Produced for less than USD 10 per individual reached, ATC is currently seeking sponsors to expand this low-cost, high-impact project in Lebanon, Turkey and elsewhere. For more information, please contact us.

LAOU - "What If"

Interactive dramatic theater increases audience engagement while exploring complex issues. LAOU provides communities in conflict effective ways to open new lines of communication and "walk in the shoes of the other"