What is it? Community-based theatre occurs when a theatre company engages with the community to try and create understanding and change. Art has always been about engaging with the community. A painting or song that doesn’t represent the experience of the community is never going to be embraced. This is taking that a step further and trying to turn this art into a two way conversation. Instead of speaking to the community, the theatre company now works in collaboration with the community to create narratives together. These can powerfully communicate the conditions of the community and set the stage for action.
How has it been used? The Triangle Lab in California has launched an initiative funding artist-investigators to go into communities and innovatively share the stories they find. One of the artists they work have partnered with is Arielle Brown, who has worked to create the Love Balm Project. For this project, a group of actors performs plays based on the testimony of mothers who have lost their children to violence. The performances, called the Our Hallowed Ground Series, are held close to the site where this person lost their life. They help commemorate the lives lost but also the families and communities affected by violence. But this is not just for the sake of remembrance; rather, the hope is that these narratives will help spark a change in the community. (Source: Love Balm for my SpiritChild and The Triangle Lab)