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Inclusive Theatre

This project took place in Ticino: for three weeks, the aim was to share integration tools with the Russian team, to give them additional means to change the cause of the disabled in Russia, and to make people appreciate the differences and break the north-south exchange pattern.

Project value: 46’502.10 SFr

Funds: Lord Michelham of Hellingly Foundation, Geneva/Lotteria Inter- cantonale/Fondation Sandoz, Pully/Mme Tashi Albertini, Locarno

The idea for this project was born from a chance meeting between the director of the Russian-German NGO “Perspektivy”, who has been working for several years in the extremely closed and controlled environment of boarding schools – hybrid institutions between the orphanage and the psychiatric clinic – and two UPAM members at the Pskov conference dedicated to the issue of autism spectrum in Russia in April 2006.

Among the activities carried out by “Perspektivy” at boarding school number 3 in Peterhof (near St. Petersburg), there is the management of a theatre group based on the therapeutic benefits, both physical and psychological, of artistic expression. The group is made up of about ten adults with physical and mental disabilities, followed by almost as many instructors and a professional actress.

In Switzerland, and especially in Ticino, theatre as a therapeutic medium has long been known and practiced by the “I Giullari di Gulliver” troupe (professional actors from the Dimitri school) in its “integrative” form. The “Theatre without Borders” project therefore consisted in promoting the meeting between the Russian (5 adults, 5 monitors and an artistic director) and Ticino (4 adults, 3 monitors and 1 artistic director) groups, in the form of a three-week theatre workshop, from 29 July to 19 August 2007, and pursued three main objectives:

– to make the principles of integrative theatre known to the Russian group, in a country where systemic discrimination is high;

– stimulate a future artistic partnership to consider a collaboration that breaks the classic pattern of North-South projects;

– provide the Russian group with a concrete tool for awareness-raising and action, in a scenic form, valuing participants with disabilities;

The event received significant media coverage in the local press. In addition, a DVD illustrating scenes from the daily life of the camp, as well as the preparation of the show and its dress rehearsal was produced.