Working Creatively with Conflict

Wolf + Water work in all kinds of conflict situations, from “major conflicts” such as the Balkans, Northern Ireland, Africa & the Middle East to “smaller scale conflicts” in communities, estates, organisations, businesses or families.

Using theatre & the arts Wolf + Water can explore themes in conflict management & peace building, concentrating on individual, group & cultural responses to violence, mistrust & propaganda & encouraging participants, be they young politicians, youth club leaders, police or army, to explore what it means to take the risk of using different, non violent & non discriminatory responses.

Projects are designed specifically to address each individual situation & context, using theatre, arts, mask & image work to explore new ways of facing old conflicts.

Wolf + Water have been theatre company in residence for many conferences on conflict issues, providing performances and workshops to help participants explore these complex themes in a participatory way. This has included Belfast University, Tromso University, Oslo University – and even Exeter down here in Devon.

We also provide training for groups, NGO’s, schools & other organisations in addressing conflict issues.

Some of the things we can provide:

  • One off or ongoing workshops using participatory drama to explore models of non violent communication, conflict &
  • conflict management & resolution. These can be tailored to be suitable to whatever group we’re working with – from primary school children to politicians.
  • Workshops, residencies & consultancies that can explore real issues of conflict with institutions & organisations, & help to facilitate positive change.
  • Workshops & residencies that can bring together individuals & communities who are from different cultures, backgrounds & beliefs to facilitate dialogue.
  • Specific projects that use other art forms such as music, visual arts & film to enable participants explore conflict issues.
  • Staff training for institutions such as schools, hospitals, prisons or mediation services where conflict management is part of the job description on a daily basis.
  • Bespoke performances & workshops for conferences & events.

See the sections on our work in  “Behavioural Work” & “Cross Cultural Communication” – whose themes often widely overlap with this sector.

“The work of Wolf + Water is inspirational & really enthuses me about the power of drama in addressing issues of conflict transformation… from exercises that are quite simple in their approach, the facilitators manage to elicit so much material regarding human responses….an eye opening experience across the board!”
Student Community Relations Officer, NUS-USI, Belfast, Northern Ireland

 


Past Projects

Apart from the past projects highlighted as example, Wolf + Water have also provided projects for, amongst others, the Royal Shakespeare Company (UK), the Horizon Project (Eire), the Norwegian Peace Centre (Norway), the Center for Conflict Management (Norway)

Norwegian Red Cross Street Mediation – Norway, Denmark – 2010 – Present

Wolf + Water has helped develop the core program of Street Mediation and train Norwegian Red Cross workers from the balmy temperatures of Oslo to the somewhat more chilly climes of the Arctic Circle.

Street Mediation is essentially a program that teaches people about the basics of creative conflict resolution, and is used in schools, gangs, and a wide variety of other community groups across society.

Using drama and other creative techniques, we can begin to explore in a non academic and realistic way just how tough the process of conflict resolution is, while giving really useful experience and tools as to how it is achieved.

 

 


“No Theatre” – Norwegian Peace Association – Oslo – 2009 on

No Theatre was a group of people who, as a result of a training course we ran for the Norwegian Peace Association (Norges Fredslag) wanted to develop the use of theatre in peace education & conflict resolution settings. The collective so far have with Wolf + Water devised three productions – “Little Boy / Little Girl – the Hiroshima Tempest” (see community projects) “Dogs Don’t Bark” (see “Intercultural Communication Projects”) and most successfully to date, an adaptation of the Australian playwright David Williamson’s piece “A Conversation”

This is a powerful show using live performance & film exploring issues around mediation & Family Group Conferencing – in this instance when the family of the victim of a particularly brutal sexual murder meets the family of their daughters killer.

The show has been performed across Oslo, supported by the Oslo Red Cross Street Mediation team, to the public and for training purposes at conferences. It was most recently performed at Oslo’s prestigious Literature House, followed by a public debate featuring politicians, the police & fearfully philosphers.


Indonesia Project – 2006

A residency for Save the Children working with a number of organisations in Jakarka & Bogor.

Firstly a week long residency working with the Search For Common Ground supported Semat Theatre company to explore issues of communal and inter-communal conflict. We worked with them develop an interactive theatre piece that they could take into their surrounding communities, and trained them in a wide variety of workshop techniques they could use to explore issues with their audiences further.

We then moved onto Aceh in Northern Sumatra, one of the regions most affected by the 2004 tsunami. Prior to the devastation of the wave the area had been in the grips of a thirty year conflict which saw the region divided into sections which were controlled by either government or anti government forces and factions. The tsunami caused huge internal displacement of entire populations, and Save The Children recognised a need for a greater degree of conflict sensitivity to help manage the new populations and potential interactions. Over 4 weeks we delivered workshops with local Save The Children offices which covered conflict sensitivity and management providing training in interactive methods for use in working with villages in the area.

 


Prigorodny Schools Residency project – North Ossetia – 2005

Initially this project spent time training the Centre for Peace building and Community Development counsellors who were delivering psycho social programmes for young people in 3 schools in North Ossetia.
The region had seen tensions for a long while, many even predating the Ingush Ossetian conflicts of the early 90s, but then even more so in the post Beslan school massacre context.

Then workshops were held in each of the schools (one exclusively Ossetian, the other exclusively Ingush and another mixed) twice a week for 3 months – despite the frustrations of resistant authorities, apathetic staff, and a number of terror scares.

Nonetheless the project culminated in presentations by the groups which were seen by pupils from all the schools. Despite predictions to the contrary, the students were able to travel to the mixed school where they enjoyed sharing and comparing work. It was the first time such a happening had occurred and was featured on local television.

 


Nansen Dialogue Project / Theatre Residencies – Norway, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Macedonia, Kosovo 1999 – 2008

Wolf + Water started working with this Norwegian project just as the Kosovan War began. With the support of the Norwegian Government, it brought participants from across the Former Yugoslavia together for intense courses on conflict management and community development issues with particular reference to the Balkan situation.

Initially we working as part of these courses in Norway to provide training in conflict psychology & test out the “internalisation” of the information that participants have gained throughout the course & exploring with them how they might use it on their return in their everyday lives.

With the opening of 8 Nansen Dialogue Centres throughout the Balkans, Wolf + Water became regular visitors to the Balkans, providing training & project development work in the areas of Conflict Management, Human Rights & Education.

This has been the most interesting seminar of all the seminars we have been through

I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said that this had been one of the most wonderful & useful experiences in my life!

“I have never played such serious “games” – absolutely fascinating. Lucky me that I was here!”

I’ve both participated in & organised many seminars – this was one of the best

These were the most challenging days we had during the whole seminar & still we enjoyed it! I’ve been to seminars where similar approaches have been used but it has never been so professionally handled & as successful as I experienced with you guys. Those three days were the most valuable within the whole ten weeks

You gave us a mirror in which to look at ourselves – & for that I’m very thankful

This is turn led to a number of very specific community theatre residencies, each lasting  a number of months and bringing together locals from across ethnic divides to work together to create pieces of professional theatre that were then publically performed across ethnic divides.

The Duplo Dno Project in Banja Luka & Prijedor, Bosnia, worked with 30 adults from across Northern Bosnia, beginning with training workshops exploring conflict management & human rights, before applying what participants learnt in devising a theatre performance.

The resulting piece was shown in Sanski Most (a Bosniak town), Kosarac (a Bosniak community) & Prijedor (a mainly Serbian town) a process that involved taking participants into areas they’d not previously visited.

Seven hundred people saw the final performances from across the communities, including representatives from the International Community & a number of key politicians. The performance was also filmed & televised on Bosnian television.

“Catastrophe without a Break” was a 3 month residency brought together young people from 3 ethnic groups (Albanian, Roma and Serbian) living in South Serbia to devise and present a quality piece of theatre addressing issues of ethnic divides. T The final show was performed by a mixed cast in front of a mixed audience at the culture house in Bujanovac – the first ever such event in the venue. A multi lingual performance, it tackled issues from the personal to the political.

How the f**k did they do that?!


 


Little Star training & supervision seminars – Ukraine – 1999-2005

A twice a year five day block of training & supervising psychologists from the “Little Star” centre in Grozny, Chechnya, who work with children traumatised by the war there.

We worked with this committed & fantastic group through events including the asasination of the Chechen President, through many occasions of death & grief, & of course the Beslan school massacre. So controversial has this work been that on a number of occasions we have had FSB (KGB) officers sitting in on the training.

I discovered a lot of useful things, both for me personally & to help my work with the children

We liked all the games & exercises & techniques – they were all very relevant. And we liked your energy – we wouldn’t have laughed so much if it hadn’t been you, even when dealing with issues of grief…& grief suppresses so many things. It was good to be here with you & feel normal again

 


Training, Consultancy & Conferences

Wolf + Water have been theatre company in residence for a wide range of conferences, providing bespoke performances, workshops and training.

In terms of conferences, this has included work for the Mediation UK Annual Conference, the Northern Ireland Community Relations Council, the 4th European Conference of Peace Building & Conflict Resolution, the ISFIT International Conference at the University of Trondheim, Norway, the Peace in Higher Education Conference at the University of Tromso, Norway, the international “Building the Peace” conference in Belfast, the SIETAR European Interculturalist Conference in Stravanger, Norway, the “Lusty Beg” paramilitary & victim mediation conference (Community Foundation for Northern Ireland and Harvard University)

Wolf & Water’s dramatic presentation demonstrated with poignancy & humour the concerns…& tensions felt by all involved & served as a good segue into the small group discussions. This technique elicited some creative ideas & enabled conference participants to play an active role

It was great to have you…the roleplays & masks are something that will stick in our minds for a very long time – we had a lot of really great moments the days you spent with us

Some past conference performances include

4th European Conference on Peace Building & Conflict Resolution – Belfast – 1998

As the shadows over Kosovo were already lengthening throughout 1998, the job of Wolf + Water to be theatre company in residence & to sum up the key issues & developments for this huge conference was very tough indeed. After several sleepless nights the final performance worked very well & seemed to capture the uncomfortable essence of the event.

Many thanks for your absolutely fabulous contribution to our recent conference here in Belfast. I daresay you have some idea of how much we enjoyed & valued your contribution & admired your ability to get right to the heart of the matter in your closing performance. You were all terrific!

Nordic Mediation Forum, Skovje, Sweden, September 2004

Wolf + Water “fooled” this three day conference of mediators, social scientists & conflict management professionals from across Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland & Iceland, as well as running workshops on the use of theatre in exploring conflict. A bizarre but worthwhile event involving such surreal moments as being crammed into a taxi with middle aged female Icelandic Social Workers & discovering what was in the Bishop of Upsala’s shoe.

thefoolonstage

We would also like to unreservedly praise the members of the Swedish Secret Service, who, having not been told that a Wolf + Water actor in a mask & hunting jacket would be leaping onto the stage immediately after the speech of the Swedish Justice Minister, drew their weapons but were thankfully not of the “shoot first ask questions latter” school of protection…

It was great to meet you – and I put the Fool into my bag in the last session

Wolf + Water have provided a vast amount of training in all aspects of conflict management including human rights work & trauma treatment training, working with, among others, the Little Star Centre, Chechnya, the Nansen Academy for Human Rights, Centre for Conflict Management, Oslo, the Northern Ireland Community Relations Consortium, the Council of Europe in Macedonia, Norwegian Church Aid, CISV Norway.