Putting historical dramas on stage

We dedicated the first week of March to the continuation of our creative collaboration – the play “The Black Shadow”. The 5th and 7th grades decided to invite Uri Ayalon, a history teacher with a strong interest in world politics, to speak to them. Uri, who lives in the Tamera community, was born and raised in Israel/Palestine. He shared some of his own history with us, telling how he became a political activist.

After the intense 3-weeks of theatre in January, we reached the stage of exploring the content that we want to present on stage. We devoted a week to this study and Uri was an essential piece in this journey. We met every morning, creating spaces for sharing and discussing the historical content. Uri started by giving us a historical perspective of the concept of Capitalism, moving on to the topic of Patriarchy and ending with the topic of Species-ism, where it was clear that all these subjects are intimately interconnected.

It was a very rich week; this was true of the content but more so because of the way the children brought their ideas and questions. When approaching the period of humanity in which the notion of the existence and worship of only one God, a being separate from humankind with the role of judge, one of the children immediately asked,”But then if people believe that it was a God who created them, how can they believe that this same God will punish them or not forgive them?” Other children then joined in this inquiry. The statements and questions that came to us included,”I can’t think about God.” And, “Why is God so important?”

Later, when we touched the logic of Capitalism, the thoughts that emerged included, “If we talk about capitalism, then of course we talk about individualism!” or “If a person is rich it doesn’t mean that he’s bad!”

And finally, when immersed in the topic of patriarchy, the most difficult one for most of the children to understand, one of them reflected, “Why was Margaret Thatcher so cold and harsh? Ah! Maybe because she felt she needed to be like a boy!”

Every afternoon, our visual arts specialist, Beate, accompanied the children in a space dedicated to drawing and painting, where they could digest this dense and complex content.

These and other phrases led us to spaces of much questioning and curiosity about the world’s situation. We witnessed some frustration and the inability to accept the status quo which we see as a fundamental and healthy part in their first big political awakening. For many these concepts were new but their increased maturity and development allowed them to now look at the situation of the world from a new angle. It is just one more step on this journey of waking up and feeling into the world from the privileged place that we live in. It is important to note that the children themselves had chosen all of these topics and to work into them at greater depth.

The next step, on the last day of the week, was to bring this material to the drama class with Rico and to create small performances. It was very interesting and inspiring to see that one of the issues that several of the children chose to put on stage was that of the isolation and loneliness that humanity increasingly experiences as a direct result of this capitalist system that we created.

We would like to have more of these weeks with Uri and other experts from our community. Let’s see how this adventure will express itself on stage in our “Black Shadow”.