Workshop at the JCC Dbayeh Center

Many members of the Palestinian and Lebanese communities have negative images of one another. This, over the years, has lead to hatred, misunderstanding, fear and discrimination amongst the communities. These attitudes have been long standing and are being passed from parents to children. Negative images exist not only at an individual level but also at a community level.

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Conflict Transformers: How theater is helping heal ethnic tensions 16 years after war in Kosovo

A young Kosovar Serbian actress sinks to her knees and, stricken with grief, expresses her longing for an uncle who is still “missing” 16 years after Kosovo’s ethnic conflict ended in 1999. The Kosovar Albanian man sitting to her left on stage watches mesmerized. It is his story that the actress is telling, and though he is unable to understand her words, spoken in Serbian, he tells the audience after the performance that she has captured the essence of his grief and pain. Through theater, the actors are retelling the history of violence between ethnic Albanians and Serbs in Kosovo in a new way that encourages empathy and healing. At the end of the evening, which is full of audience stories re-enacted, another audience member stands up and asks the interethnic theater group in front of her, “Where have you been for the last 16 years?”

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Using psychodrama to heal the scars of the Holocaust

An adjunct professor of expressive arts therapy at San Francisco’s California Institute of Integral Studies, Volkas is the founder of workshops for people who share collective trauma stemming from a historical event. For the last 30 years he has taken the workshops to troubled regions all over the world.

As the son of Holocaust survivors and a therapist, Volkas said his early interest was more personal: He wanted to study how the legacy of trauma handed down in Jewish families also affects generations of Germans. It was not work he necessarily chose, Volkas said, but rather was something he could not turn away from — nor erase inside himself.

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All the World’s a Stage

It is a well-known adage that experimentation is an active science. But from his home base at the Living Arts Counseling Center in the tree-nestled, bustling community of Berkeley to the four corners of the world, internationally renowned drama therapist, educator, and theatre director Armand Volkas has proven that is it also a profoundly active art. An ‘experiential’ therapist, Volkas transcends the marginalized, fringe perception such a title often evokes.

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Drama eases pain of Arab-Jewish conflict

the sumter ITEM “MONTREAL – On the stage, actors depict flirtatious Israeli soldiers delaying a Palestinian woman named Rania at a checkpoint. Try again, says the real Rania, sitting in the audience. The humiliation and tedium of the checkpoint is not there. Show more rage. The actors now moan and crawl about, faces twisted in agony. That, Rania says, shows what she feels. The scene is from a drama program that is part of the “Peace and Conflict Resolution Series,” Concordia University’s...

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Stages of Healing

“I see the festive lights and the joy on children’s faces, but I feel loss,” she says. “I miss you, I miss you.” She stands frozen in place, and, one by one, four other actors, all dressed in black, join her. One lights imagined candles for loved ones who are gone; another kneels, asking, “Is it okay to feel so sad this time of year?” Each actor freezes after speaking, their bodies connected to one another like branches on a tree. A violinist and a keyboard player add mood and texture. The scene ends in silence, the five bodies entwined in a living sculpture. This two-minute improvisation takes place at Berkeley’s Live Oak Theatre at a December performance of the Living Arts Playback Theatre Ensemble.

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