Dear friends and colleagues around the world, all of you involved in the living practice, theory, research, education, promotion and support of our field, drama/theatre and education,
This year is an important year for IDEA, a year of re-embracing and re-empowering our presence and visibility on the world scene and in the lives of our members and the world community.
We are celebrating 30 years since IDEA was founded, and we celebrated this important anniversary in the best possible way, something we have missed in almost a decade: the IDEA Congress in Reykjavik.
It was a place for us to meet, talk, learn from each other, rethink ourselves in the context of the new tendencies of drama/theatre education and find support and new winds to carry us to future ventures and adventures in our work and life. It was also a place for us to acknowledge that not everyone could be present, and we dearly missed our colleagues who could not join, again realizing what a complex and also unfair world we live in. A world with huge economical differences, visa restrictions, conflicts and war zones, with the tides and traces of the Covid virus still lingering around.
Photo: Anastasia Tasic/ Symposium "Creative Potentials of Partnership Between Teachers and Artists" at the Children and Youth's "Mater Terra" Festival in Belgrade, 18th November
I am a successor of many remarkable former Presidents of IDEA, that have also found ways for us to continue functioning and gathering our membership in turbulent times. But this is a time like no other. A time when we have to search for advantages in disadvantages, where we strive to find ways of connecting and collaborating, exchanging knowledge and experiences from the spaces of our own homes and offices, classrooms and parks via Zoom and other online platforms. We will continue in this exploration of possibilities that the World Wide Web is offering us, making plans and strategies for how to make our events and gatherings more accessible to all.
On the 19th of November this year we have had our 9th Mater Terra Festival in Belgrade. It is a showcase of all drama/theatre and education initiatives that have resulted in performances, workshop presentations or work-in-progress presentations from Serbian schools and drama studios, involved in drama for learning, as well as drama/theatre as art education. We have as our principal themes all these years ecology and ecology of the soul, a concept I have been developing for many years as my teaching methodology and art practice. One of the most important parts of this Festival, which is not competitive but a place for support, growth and development, is the Conversations in the Round, where after a block of presentations, we all sit together in a circle and talk about what we have seen, or how we do our work. We comment, ask questions, explore together and search deeper the meaning of what has been presented. We are all equal in this circle: the children and teenagers, teachers, parents, artists and our expert team. We speak, but most importantly listen to each other, carefully, completely involved in the process of listening. In the younger group, when all the voices, comments, questions and answers have run out, and when I proclaimed the end of the session, something strange happened. No one moved. No one wanted to move. We just continued sitting there, together, in silence. And we had 8, 9, 10 year-olds and older children with us.
I suddenly realized that the children and everyone in that circle wanted this feeling of togetherness, support and understanding to last. Just for us to continue to be there for each other. I also realized this circle is like a nest, a nest of safety in this strange and turbulent world, and that nest is something we as drama teachers create in all our work and contact with children, youth, elderly, disabled, each and everyone involved.
One of the significant outcomes and results of the 9th IDEA Congress in Iceland is the Reykjavik Manifesto, one more tool we can use for the advocacy in our field, and I would like to share with you its content in this IDEA Day message:
“Being mindful of the goals, strategies and action items of the UNESCO SeoulAgenda’s Goals for the Development of Arts Education and acknowledging the principles expressed in the Frankfurt Declaration and the Winnipeg Declaration,We understand that Drama/Theatre Education is a powerful creative process and subject for multi-dimensional learning in formal, non-formal and informal education; a platform for inclusivity and decolonisation; venue and methodology for research; an agent for enhancing health and wellbeing, and introduction to this art form, including drama in education and diverse theatre traditions around the world, and opportunity for enhancing social awareness, empathy and collaboration and personal and community development, and platform for expression and action on matters of local, global and intercultural concern such as Peace, Sustainability, Equality and Economic empowerment.
We, the participants at the 9th IDEA World Congress in Reykjavik, Iceland under the theme “Drama for All, Drama for Tall and Small” meet in the context of drama in the changing world. We pledge our commitment to raise awareness to contribute to the implementation of the objectives and practice of Drama/Theatre Education. We call upon all levels of government to make official legislation to support this materially, and in spirit, to ensure equitable access to high quality Drama/Theatre Education for all children, youth and life-long learners as part of a full, human education.”
At the end I would like to thank my fellow Elected Officers for all their work and commitment, our colleagues from FLISS and the University of Iceland for organizing the IDEA Congress, and all of you who strive to make this world a better place with drama/theatre education, a safe nest that will allow flights of all involved in future times.
Sanja Krsmanović Tasić