Mar .  2014
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Theatre in Conflict Zones

The “Theatre in Conflict Zones” was created as a cooperation project of ITI Germany and ITI Sudan (as decided and signed by Ali Mahdi and Thomas Engel in an agreement in Khartoum in December 2004). The project was founded by Sudanese and German public funds, plus support from the Anna-Lindh Foundation and Prins Claus Fund.  The concept was developed from the methods of Ali Mahdi's Al Bugaa Theatre "Theatre between frontiers" and SOS-Children Villages project in different areas of the Sudan and the international workshop series of the German ITI/CIDC "My unknown enemy" starting in 2002. Theatre in Conflict Zones has been designed by the German ITI and has been developed in different modules with the Sudanese ITI between 2005 and 2007.

The project was first publicly announced in December 2004 in Khartoum (six months before the official end of the civil war) and in June 2005 in Stuttgart, Germany, in the framework of the ITI festival Theater der Welt. The festival hosted the first international workshop "My Unknown Enemy" for the future Centre for Theatre in Conflict Zones with 11 actors and theatre scholars from Sudan and participants from Turkey, Pakistan, Egypt, Palestine, and Germany.

ITI Germany initiated and coordinated the partnership with international trainers and workshop leaders and provided necessary tools for documentation and technical theatre equipment. ITI Sudan organized several workshops in different areas of the Sudan, where the trainers used and improved the knowledge learnt in the international modules.


 

The first international workshop in Sudan (and the follow up of the Stuttgart workshop) was in December 2005 at the Al Bugaa theatre in Khartoum, culture capital of the Arab World 2005 and conducted by Alexander Stillmark.

The next international module in Khartoum, which was coordinated by the German ITI, as agreed in the cooperation agreement, was a Symposium on different concepts and projects for the peacebuilding mission of theatre with participants from Uganda (Jessica Kahwaa, Makarere Univ.), Great Britain (Jenny Hughes, Manchester University) and the Netherlands (Mikke Kolk, University of Amesterdam). It was held in the framework of the Al Bugaa Festival in March 2006.

The Centre for Theatre in Conflict zones has been officially registered as a Sudanese NGO.

In 2004 Ali Mahdi went with a group of theatre workers to Darfur, Sudan, in the midst of a tragic tribal war. Involving audience members from both fighting sides, their play grew into a large event where both sides in the conflict were watching and participating (even soldiers and police). During the performance, there was also an agreed ceasefire. Since this important success, “Theatre in Conflict Zones” has been working in Darfur regularly. It gives training in acting and directing, and brings medication, food and assistance to refugee camps. In 2010, this project was the subject of a BBC Worldwide radio documentary and Ali Mahdi’s Al Bugaa theatre group received the Freedom to Create main prize.

In 2012 ALi Mahdi was officially designated as UNESCO Artist for Peace.