Using new interactive methods for awareness raising on sensitive topics

world vision logoCross-Border Cooperation for HIV/AIDS Prevention and Impact Mitigation in Southern Caucasus and Russian Federation implements awareness raising sessions on HIV/AIDS prevention and risk mitigation among labor migrants, their family members and youth population in targeted communities of Armenia through different approaches and methods. Outreach sessions, film screening and discussions in communities, health providers and social workers counseling, broadcasting of HIV related videos through national and local TV channels, public events, distribution of information materials are conducted in beneficiary communities. In this article we will present another innovative method for HIV/AIDS awareness raising and healthy behavior promotion among youth population. It is forum theater performance method.
Interactive theatre methodology enables a sustained experience. We usually forget what was said in a speech, on the radio, or during a meeting. The play, however, is an event in the social life of the village, school, or the concerned community. The characters and the dramatic situations are discussed and remembered long after the performance. Theatre reaches the heart and the mind in a way that reading a pamphlet or listening to a speech likely will not. What happens to the characters, and the emotions one feels while participating in an interactive show, strikes people in a unique way and will likely be remembered long after the play ends.
WV HIV prevention project cooperates with Theater for Changes NGO (T4C) – the leading interactive theatre company in Armenia, is a cultural NGO comprised of young enthusiastic artists committed to using interactive theatre as a tool for social change (www.facebook.com/t4carmenia). Formed in 2007, Theatre for Changes has since gained a respectable reputation for its acute sensitivity and perception in heightening social awareness and civic responsibility. T4C pushes the boundaries, erasing the line between audience and performer, pushing the audience from being a passive observer into active participants.
Over a 5-year period T4C produced many different interactive plays based on a variety of pressing social issues, performed on big stages and in the regions in community centers in collaboration with a broad range of funders/partners, including British Council, British Embassy Yerevan, Open Society Foundations, United Nations Population Fund, Eurasia Partnership Foundation, Embassy of the United States of America, European Cultural Foundation, European Youth Foundation, World Vision Armenia, Children Development Foundation, etc. Theatre for Changes is a member of ITO (International Theatre of the Oppressed Organization).
The interactive forum theatre “Who could imagine” on HIV/AIDS issues aims to raise awareness on HIV/AIDS issues in order to use the well-known Forum Theatre method as an innovative approach to get young people talking openly and thinking seriously about HIV/AIDS. The above-mentioned forum theatre play was produced by Theatre for Changes in collaboration with UNFPA and Y-PEER (Youth Peer Network) for the 2010 World Aids Day. The play proved to be a successful effort in raising awareness on HIV/AIDS issues among young people.
In a scope of WV HIV prevention project “Theatre for changes” Youth NGO conducted two presentations of the interactive play “Who Could Imagine?” in Gavar and Stepanavan regions in May 2013. These events were highly appreciated by youth population, universities students in the regions, by WV ADPs staff and by partner organizations working in Gavar and Stepanavan. Also presentations of the interactive play “Who Could Imagine?” are highly appreciated by National AIDS Centre professionals.
Having such a good experience of working with “Theatre for changes” Youth NGO project will continue cooperation and will organize several performances on HIV/AIDS issues in Yerevan and in regions in a scope of upcoming HIV testing week and World AIDS Day, in the period of November 22-December 1 2013. The theatre performances will be organized together with HIV rapid testing. The participants will be offered to receive HIV related counselling and get tested.
Background: “Cross-Border Cooperation for HIV/AIDS Prevention and Impact Mitigation in Southern Caucasus and Russian Federation” is the European Union and WV Germany funded two year sub-regional project. In Armenia project is implemented in 14 communities of Gavar and Stepanavan. Project’s main objective is to mobilize National Government organizations (GOs) and non-state actors (NSAs) in Southern Caucasus and Russian Federation for join actions to mitigate HIV/AIDS risks among migrant workers and mobile populations from Southern Caucasus ensuring improved access to prevention, treatment, support and care services in both source and destination countries.