METHOD 7: DRAMATIZATIONS

Many dramatic techniques can enhance learning. Sometimes their purpose is for participants to "experience" an unfamiliar situation or identity (e.g., being a refugee, being disabled) and develop empathy and appreciation for different points of view (e.g., acting the role of a perpetrator, a witness, an advocate). Other dramatizations may serve to concretize concepts (e.g., acting out articles of the UDHR) or analyze conflict (e.g., acting out confrontations between police and demonstrators).

1. Charades: Working in several teams, participants act out articles of human rights documents, which others must guess. These charades might illustrate rights denied, rights enjoyed, or rights defended.

2. Dramatic Readings: Participants create presentations by reading from plays, testimonies, stories, or poems on a particular subject.

3. Image Creation: Ask a volunteer to name a human rights problem from her or his own exper ience. The volunteer then uses the other participants to build an image of this problem. Everyone must agree that the image accurately represents the problem. Then ask the volunteer slowly to change the "actual" image into an ideal one (i.e., an example of the situation as she or he would like to see it). Discuss possible agents of change.

4. Puppets: Participants create puppet shows on human rights themes.

5. Role-Play: This well-known method can take many forms, but in all participants act out little dramas. Give clear instructions and ensure time for full development and discussion of the role-play, concluding with an explicit restatement of its purpose and learning points. Be sensitive to feelings the drama may evoke in the actors and the audience. Allow times to "debrief" the role-play, asking both actors and audience how they felt. Encourage evaluation of what took place and analysis of its relevance to human rights.

In some cases participants make up role-plays and in others the facilitator assigns a "plot." Sometimes participants take on roles spontaneously; at others they are given specific roles, sometimes with assigned attitudes and behaviors (e.g., "You are a witness of domestic violence but don't want to get involved").

Elaboration on role-play could include some of the following methods:

a) Freeze Call out "Freeze" during a moment of intense action and ask actors to describe their emotions at that moment or invite participants to analyze what is happening.

b) Role Reversal Without warning, stop the action, ask actors to exchange roles (e.g., gender switch, oppressor becomes victim), and continue the action from that point. Debrief thoroughly.

c) Replay After a role play, change the situation (e.g., "... except this time you cannot read" or "You are gay") and ask the actors to replay the same scene with this change.

d) Shadow Have someone stand behind each actor. Halt the action midway and ask the "shadow" what they think their character is feeling and thinking and why.

6. Street Theater: To raise public awareness, especially among limited-literacy audiences, participants perform human rights plays in public places, often inviting onlookers to take part.

Examples of Method:

The Human Rights Education Handbook: "Sharing Problems, Sharing Solutions," p.50; "Activity 12: Image Theater," p. 86;

"Activity 14: Mirroring," p. 88.

ABC: "My Puppet Family," "Crisis," "Summit," "Councils and Courts," "Sorts of Courts," "Rich and Poor," "Working Life." [www.unhchr.ch/html/menu6/2/abc.htm]

Bells of Freedom: "Rights of Domestic Servants."[erc.hrea.org/Library/Bells_of_Freedom/index.html]

First Steps: "Andrea and Tony's Presents," "Vesna's Story," "Refugee Role-play," "Action Role-plays." [erc.hrea.org/Library/First_Steps/index.html]