Youth Drama Theatre “AmaTea”
1 Aug 2022
Project: Propaganda: Understanding for Resistance
AmaTea is a Youth Drama Theatre that is dedicated to using the power of theatre and cross-cultural projects to address social issues affecting local teenagers and young people. The organisation offers regular training courses on ‘drama in education’ for educators, students, and youth workers, and also creates family storytelling projects like Tales of an Old Suitcase, which bring parents and children together. Additionally, AmaTea coordinates the cross-cultural project Drama Space of the Museum.The ultimate goal of AmaTea is to use the methods and toolkits of culture and art to empower and enrich local communities, creating a safer, more friendly, and more tolerant environment for individuals to live, grow, and develop in. The organisation is made up of 12 members and 21 volunteers who are passionate about using their skills to make a positive impact.
Propaganda: Understanding for Resistance
With the support of the European Cultural Foundation’s ‘Culture of Solidarity’ grant, AmaTea’s most recent project, titled Propaganda : Understanding for Resistance, has been empowering young people in Ukraine to explore significant events in their country’s history and understand the impact of various art forms on shaping information and propaganda. This has been accomplished through a thorough examination of cinema, literature, posters, and monuments related to the specific historical events.
During the first phase, the project aimed to cultivate critical thinking and media literacy in young people, and then provided them with opportunities to learn about script writing, videography, and video production. Participants conducted individual research on a particular instance of propaganda distortion in history and create a short video, which is a widely consumed form of information among young people.
The primary objective of the project has been to equip participants with a thorough understanding of propaganda as a multi-faceted phenomenon, encompassing not just its negative aspects, but its positive aspects such as the propaganda of a healthy lifestyle as well. The project aimed to highlight the significant role that art plays in the creation of propaganda, encouraging participants to approach the information they receive with a critical eye. By the conclusion of the project, participants were expected to be conscious of the various manipulations and fabrications that exist within historical facts, both past and present. Lastly, the project endeavoured to enhance the participants’ observation skills, allowing them to see that structures, sculptures, posters, movies, and books can reveal much about the narratives they present.
From July to mid-September 2022, the project team worked on the necessary preparation work with lecturers, preparing materials and toolkits, and issuing an open call for participants to apply. From mid-September to November, the active phase of the project took place with weekly online lectures and workshops. In December, the participants put their newfound skills into practice by creating their own videos analysing a case of propaganda in architecture, monuments, and so on. Due to shelling of critical infrastructure and very long power cuts since October, participants are still completing their videos.
18 talented and enthusiastic young adults from Ukraine have been involved in the project. These participants ranged in age from 15 to 22 years old, and were divided into two groups. The first group consisted of 8 female senior pupils, aged 15 to 18, from educational establishments in Chernihiv and some who were currently displaced in the west of Ukraine and even abroad in Germany and the Czech Republic. The second group was comprised of 10 university students, 7 females and 3 males, who were studying in both Ukraine and the Czech Republic.
AmaTea has been leading several projects to bring attention to the struggles of local communities. One of these projects, This Place, addressed displacement, discrimination, and marginalisation in Portugal, Turkey, and Ukraine, with a focus on the siege of Chernihiv in 2022. The project used storytelling, photography, documentary theatre, and film to present individual testimonies.
In 2020, the Lab of Creative Ideas was established in Chernihiv, offering creative writing and video animation workshops for children and teenagers.
Another project, 9 Meetings (I am Here), aimed to investigate isolation, loneliness, and invisibility in society, with results presented as an online exhibition.
The Climate Change Theatre Action was the first-ever climate change-focused theatre performance by young people in Ukraine.
The Different Stages was a cross-border project from 2016 to 2018 that addressed gender equality issues and presented a common episode of Scandinavian/Ukrainian history through a strong female personality. Drama, film, and a facilitation toolkit were used to present the production in Ukraine and Sweden.