The premise was to offer a two hour workshop that taught BA and MA Applied Diplomacy students on how to use theatre to work with vulnerable groups. Big challenge, I know, and impossible to fully meet in two hours; trust me, I know. People have dedicated whole courses, whole degrees to this idea. But Art Lingual was going to take a crack at it anyways. After all, were we really going to pass on the opportunity to work with SOAS University? Not a chance.
A week and a half ago, Olivia and I ran our Vulnerable Groups Training Course workshop with several students at SOAS University of London. With our snazzy Prezi in hand, and our determination to get as much information as possible across in only an hour and a half, we were ready.
Our workshop started out with a presentation, outlining exactly what Art Lingual considers to be the definition of 'vulnerable groups'. We defined them as groups of people that are at risk of exclusion due to threats in their environment or their personal circumstances. While there are many categories of vulnerable groups, Art Lingual directly focuses on the marginalisation that comes from being an immigrant.
We then discussed, for all those academics in the crowd, our methodology as a company, largely based on Paulo Freire's 'Pedagogy of the Oppressed' and his theory of dialogic education. It is our firm belief that the groups we work with need their own autonomy and we are merely there to facilitate that process. In essence to allow participants to become ‘beings for themselves' (Freire 1970 pg. 74).
But aside from our academic rigor, the rest of the workshop featured many theatre games that we use in our own workshops with international students and refugees. We then asked the participants to create a scaffolded workshop based off of a vulnerable group scenario, using any of the theatre games we had played.
We had a great time working with these students and they came up with some really considerate and creative workshops, focusing on accessibility and safeguarding. Even better, we are excited that SOAS has invited us back to continue our work with these students, possibly developing the course into areas unexplored by them before... can anyone say Forum Theatre? Legislative Theatre?
The possibilities are endless, and so are the ways in which to work with vulnerable groups. We only offer one method based in one field, but we hope that everyone who participated took something useful away. We know we did! And here's to the future work we do with SOAS. We are excited and pumped up. Bring on 2017 with Art Lingual!