YTP Performance in Panj, Tajikistan


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The Youth Theater for Peace projects in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, funded by USAID, are implemented by IREX . For more information about the Youth Theater for Peace program please visit

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YTP Performance in Panj, Tajikistan

  1. 1. Youth Theater for Peace<br />
  2. 2. Nestled along the Afghan and Chinese borders, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have large youth populations that are increasingly removed from economic and educational opportunities, have few positive extracurricular outlets, and are at risk of becoming involved in violence. Conflict issues include resource distribution (land and water), regionalism and ethnic tensions, school racketeering, and gender-based violence.<br />
  3. 3. In 2010, more than 100 teenagers from diverse regions of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan took part in camps based on a participatory theater methodology called Drama for Conflict Transformation (DCT). DCT performances encourage actors and audience members to engage in dialogue on community issues and to identify moments when an individual’s actions can escalate or diffuse a conflict situation. <br />
  4. 4. When creating their plays, participants are encouraged to step into the shoes of those from other backgrounds, developing an awareness of the cycle of conflict and the multiple perspectives that feed into it. During the performance itself, a facilitator called the Joker mediates a process where audience members may come on stage, replace a character, and try to impact the conflict situation positively. These interactive skits function as a “scrimmage before the big game” of life in the community, strengthening participants’ skills for seeking positive outcomes in real-life confrontations. <br />
  5. 5. Dividing inheritance is a frequent issue within families in Central Asia. In the play shown here, youth from Panj – a small town a few kilometers from the Tajik-Afghan border – demonstrate a common scenario where two brothers and their families fight over their deceased father’s inheritance. The group leader and actors solicited audience members’ participation to devise positive solutions to the conflict at hand.<br />
  6. 6. DCT performances are based on participants’ own experiences with conflict and provide a platform for discussing issues that matter in their home communities. Approximately 60% of the plays deal with community level issues such as gender issues, education and bullying; 30% focus on national level issues such as land distribution, migration, ethnic conflict and terrorism; 10% focus on family issues such as inheritance and relationships.<br />
  7. 7. YTP participants have held over 150 performances in the regions surrounding their home communities, reaching over 14,000 people in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan as of March 2011. <br />
  8. 8. In communities with limited educational and extracurricular opportunities, DCT activities provide a rare outlet for marginalized youth to share their opinions, build self-esteem, and engage creatively across ethnic lines. 95% of YTP participants reported increased confidence in their ability to positively affect conflict situations following the theater camps. <br />
  9. 9. Youth participant: “When we showed the play it mirrored a real problem in that community. All the audience members wanted to take part and solve the problem on stage. I think it was relevant to their lives, otherwise they couldn’t have addressed the problem. One man said: ‘We were like this, but we will correct what we’ve done so our sons don’t repeat our mistakes.’“<br />
  10. 10. The Youth Theater for Peace projects in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, funded by USAID, are implemented by IREX. For more information about Youth Theater for Peace, please visit<br />