Theatre Embassy: theatre and community development

June 2006 -

"Acting and theatre are closely related to the process of cultural development," according to Theatre Embassy's Berith Danse. "Strengthening the human identity has top priority for us. We utilize artists and educative theatre organizations from the North and the South for this purpose." Theatre Embassy from Amsterdam has been active for no less than five years, but is still virtually unknown in the Netherlands itself. "Our performances are primarily staged in Asia, Africa and Latin America. We also participate in the Urban World Forum in Vancouver, which focuses on globalization and development cooperation," Danse explains. "We strive for long-term partnerships because they render more tangible results. The dance project Huellas, for example, in which we worked with ten dancers from Honduras to explore the part violence plays in Central America. This project is touring Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Cuba and Costa Rica."


When artists get involved with comunity development, a lot of people think that the artistic results are no longer interesting. "That is because of the separatist thinking in the Netherlands, but that will change in the years to come. In Great Britain and France, for example, it is not uncommon to use art as an instrument of social objectives, and the results are often stunning," according to Danse. "A while ago we performed in a small city in China. After the performance, a lady came to me who had participated in a theatre project we were doing at the time with a group of women who were dirt poor and living in extremely difficult circumstances. She came to the performance with the explicit purpose of thanking me. The project had had an important impact on the development of her self esteem. She has now had a good job for several years."

Theatre Embassy is supported by the Hivos Cultural Fund Doen Foundation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and ICCO.