Opening Up: Using Theatre Tools for Psychosocial Support

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Three months ago, I started working on RTI’s “Dinami” youth programme as a trainee. “Dinami”, which is the Greek word for ‘power’, provides psychosocial support to young people through art, sports and social events. I feel extremely fortunate to be able to work with people my own age- we share similar fears and uncertainty for the future but also have a lot of hope and passion.

The main project I am involved with is a three-month participatory theatre workshop for young adults aged 18-24. The project uses theatre tools, including storytelling and improvisation, to create a safe space for everyone to express themselves and process difficult experiences. The experience provides vital repiste from difficult daily lives, and we also make time for mindfulness and reflection.

The project is open to all, so it is a great opportunity to build bridges between the Greek and the refugee population and encourage people to socialise with others that they otherwise might not. At the end of the project, we will connect the participants with experts from the industry to help them build a network for further opportunities and possibly future employment.

More than half of our participants are people living in camps in rural areas around Thessaloniki. They are incredibly grateful for a project like ours, as there is very little for them to do where they live, due to a lack of facilities and professional facilitators. Some of them travel 4 hours by bus just to attend the 3 hour session.

I have witnessed a major transformation in our group since it started. Session by session, participants start trusting each other and working as a team towards a desired result. They have unlocked their personalities and they are more willing and confident to communicate their thoughts. It’s really surprising, how they have overcome their limits and have challenged themselves and how this is reflected in their creativity, particularly during improvisation activities .

The most striking achievement for me is that many of our participants have opened up about some of the incredibly difficult experiences that they have had to face, allowing us to see a part of them that is usually very well hidden. I am very proud of our team for managing to minimize the distance between us- the facilitators- and the participants, and for creating a space where they feel comfortable enough to talk about these issues. 

This is my first time working with refugees and I am genuinely happy and grateful for the experience of getting to know these people that have experienced unthinkable situations, having the opportunity to learn from them and to contribute in some way towards making their lives a bit more bearable.

Anna-Maria Pindoglou