Theatre for Social Change

The recent symposium, entitled “Theatre for Social Change”, was held at Al Akhawayn University from October 4th to 5th 2017 with the aim of exploring the ways in which creative expression—and theatre in particular—can impact the minds of audience members, shifting their perspective on social issues. The symposium specifically explored the pedagogical function of theatre and how experiences contained within a performance can illuminate sensitive and difficult issues, becoming a catalyst for positive change.

The symposium emerged as the continuation of the collaborative “Global Humanities Project” between Professors Leslie Jacobson of the George Washington University (Visiting Professor of Theatre) and Kenza Oumlil of Al Akhawayn University. Since 2015, the project’s focus has been to examine the changing roles of women and men in contemporary Moroccan society, as well as how this change affects the behavior and expectations of students at AUI. The students of Professor Kenza Oumlil’s Media and Gender class, with the guidance of Professor Jacobson, formulated a series of questions designed to elicit compelling narratives. The class then interviewed AUI students, and submitted their transcripts to Professor Jacobson who edited and arranged the content into a performance script. The plays were performed as staged readings by AUI students, and shared with the University community in the Fall 2015. This performance is the fourth in the “Global Humanities Project”, the first having taken place in Fall 2015, the second in Spring 2016, and the third in Fall 2016.

In continuation with this theme, the first day of the symposium October 4, 2017 began with an opening plenary which delved into the idea of theatre for social change. The symposium continued with more general discussions about the relationship between art, culture, and society, as well as more specific examinations about the role of gender in formulating and circulating creative expression. The symposium also included presentations from practitioners in the field of theatre who talked about their own experiences. The symposium welcomed prominent Moroccan scholars and artists in the field of theater, including Driss Ksikes, Abdallah Malki, Latifa Baqa, Touria Majdouline, Hamza Boulaiz, Kamal Khalladi, and many others.

The day ended with a very-well attended student staged reading entitled “Listen”, a play about gender roles with a focus on sexual assault.

On October 5th, Communication Studies students participated in two workshops focused on exercises and strategies for devising theatre for social change, and how to write for the stage.