Exchanging Engagement: Alternative Arts Engagement in Latin America
In 1973, Eduardo Galeano (1940-2015), the Uruguayan writer and journalist concluded his seminal book Open Veins of Latin America with the following: ‘The Latin American cause is above all a social cause: the rebirth of Latin America must start with the overthrow of its masters, country by country. We are entering times of rebellion and change’ (Galeano, 1973, p. 261). As Galeano stated, the oppression of populations and the loss of lives throughout Latin America led to ‘times of rebellion and change’. Artists, activists and the wider community sought to challenge and resist autocratic regimes to seek alternative ways of upholding their democratic and human rights. These methods and practice have transcended the democratisation of the continent in the 1980s and 1990s. The desire to advocate change through the arts has continued to be radical and proposes an alternative way of being to communities in Latin America. How can this practice be transposed to benefit the personal and social development of young people in the UK?
The author’s experience of working with young people and his encounters with Latin American arts practice led to a need to intertwine these practices and develop theatre as a model for social change, which engages the political and social rights of young people in the UK.
The paper is a product of a six-week practice-based research project in Latin America (Chile, Argentina and Uruguay) that explored innovative arts engagement for marginalised young people. The research was undertaken as a means to develop a high quality arts provision for young people in the UK. The paper focuses on three areas: continuity, sustainability and activism, and asks the reader: How can theatre ethically engage young people in the social and political decisions that shape their society? The research was funded by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust.
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