Workshop and concept

Using the methodology of Theatre of the Oppressed, developed by theatre practitioner, drama theorist and political activist Augusto Boal (1931 – 2009, Brasil), this workshop in a creative and participatory ways researches the dilemmas we face in the work field of trauma, memory and heritage. Boal’s methodology is rooted in Latin-America societies and came towards Europe in the ’80’s of the last century, where it was developed further. This playful method encourages our creativity, imagination and spontaneity while at the same time providing for research tools enabling us to take a closer look at conflicts, unspoken emotions and unconscious behaviour of humankind.

Boals’ saying “Peace no Passivity” has inspired many theatre-practitioners in the field of conflict, memory and transformational processes in many countries around the world.

The three-hour workshop developed and piloted in the framework of Heritage Contact Zone by Rabiaâ Benlahbib and Giselle Vegter in collaboration with Creative Court the Hague, will focus on the dilemma’s of memory and identity. Bringing them into the open participants can start to look for alternative ways of perceiving them and approaching them, which will help to get a deeper understanding of how traumatic experiences, working through in the present, could be transformed.



About the facilitators


Giselle Vegter (1976) studied Theatre Science at Utrecht University, Theatre Directing at Amsterdam University of the Arts and Theatre Therapy at the Institute for Theatre Therapy in Berlin. Since 2004 she has been working as a freelance director in productions for young and adult audiences for festivals and theatre companies. She is a teacher and tutor in the International Master Artist Education at ArtEZ Institute in Arnhem.

As a theatre maker she gets her inspiration from (theatre) literature, performance art and social and therapeutic work. Her projects are a combination of community art, theatre and other disciplines.

In 2010 she founded Hotel Eldorado with the aim of creating projects that connect theatre and art to questions about identity, human rights and dignity. She uses her training in the methodology of Theatre of the Oppressed to give workshops for refugees and groups that suffer the consequences of displacement or exclusion to support them in telling their stories and creating theatrical dialogues for an audience.

Rabiaâ Benlahbib is the founder and director of Creative Court, an organisation that develops art projects and reflects on global justice. Creative Court works from the notion that empathy and reflection are crucial qualities for peaceful coexistence, and that art has the ability to incite these qualities. The organisation works internationally and is based in The Hague, the Netherlands.

Previously, Vegter and Benlahbib collaborated on Rooms of Humanity, an interactive theatre installation and public programme starting from the question: ‘Where does humanity slip into genocide?’. The project looked into themes such as individual vs. collective responsibility, exclusion, propaganda and the dynamics between victim, perpetrator and bystander and was produced by Creative Court. Currently, the two are preparing The Innocent Lab, a research and workshop programme exploring how our common colonial past works through in our daily encounters in the present.


Timeline of the workshop

The workhops Impossible journeys  in Amsterdam had two stages, stage one before and during the exhibition Impossible Journeys (May and June 2019). Stage 2 builds on the outcomes and took place afterwards (November 2019).

Stage 1

About how history is written (and our own cultural identification)

  • 3 workshops of 1,5 hours
  • 15 participants
  • Artist lead
  • With intro by scholar
  • Reflections by a conversation with the artist
  • Discussion

In 3 intensive 2 hour workshops with artists, a historian and the general public of Amsterdam (15 participants each time) we looked at 50 historic objects in Virtual Reality. Historian Kees Boterbloem gave a lecture on understanding the meaning of the object and the knowledge this requires of the broad cultural context and how one can bridge the gap of missing knowledge with creative means. 2 artists (in each workshop, 6 in total) then engage with the public about their method of creatively ‘translating’ historic objects and memories into contemporary form and contemporary narratives. The question of deconstructing stereotypes is central in all 3 workshops.

Stage 2

In collaboration with Creative Court The Hague.

This part looks at difficult conversations about heritage and memory and how we identify. It builds a heritage contact zone in which two facilitators, Rabiaa Bin Labib (Creative Court) and Gisèle Vegter (Artez, Arnhem) together with Castrum Peregrini make a choice of participants that represent a broad picture of society: from unskilled workers, to citizens with migrant background to highly educated participants to discuss colonialism and how colonial heritage is perceived and how the difficult conversation about it can be lead, giving space to conflict, but using methods from group therapy to make the space safe and conflict fruitful and driven by empathy.

Each group met three times in a period of three weeks. Outcomes were documented in spatially visualised to share with an interested audience.



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