Immigrants and Police Building New Relationships Through Theatre

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Victoria, BC – Actors from around the world and VicPD officers have teamed up for “Police and Diverse Communities”, a series of workshops using ground-breaking Transformational Theatre techniques to explore the dialogue between immigrants and police. The goal of theses workshops are to build mutual trust and reduce discrimination.

Building on the first “Police and Community” workshops in which Saanich Police partnered with the Inter-Cultural Association in 2013 and 2014, these workshops bring professional actors from immigrant communities in Victoria together with VicPD officers and staff for three interactive performances.

“Bringing together our communities helps build trust,” A/Chief Constable Del Manak said. “Trust is so important on both sides. It helps our officers know new Canadians’ histories, their struggles and their concerns. On the other hand it helps these new Canadians understand policing in Canada and how different it may be from their past experiences or how different it may be from their home country. The interactive nature of this Transformational Theatre approach requires our people who are participating to step out of their comfort zones a little bit, which in itself is a powerful tool towards building new understandings.”

Transformational Theatre is the integration of several techniques including image theatre, forum theatre, playback and non-blocking improvisation. Actors and VicPD participants present images and perform short scenes based on real stories of conflict and cultural insensitivity provided by both police officers and local immigrants. The audience is invited to intervene and enact solutions to the problems in real time. The consequences of different solutions are discussed and the audience is guided to explore and find the most appropriate and workable solutions. Different points of view are played out, leading to strategies that reflect cultural sensitivity and differences. The learning is experiential, fun and positive.

“Even though the relationship between the Police and people from diverse backgrounds is better here in Canada, than in many other countries, from what we heard in our Community Sessions, there are still many incidents of prejudice, suspicion, discrimination and cultural misunderstandings taking place in our communities,” Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria Arts & Outreach Coodinator Paulina Grainger said. “This situation is not helped when newcomers to Canada bring with them feelings of mistrust and fear of the police from their home countries. This is when theatre can be a non-threatening and powerful bridging tool. Transformational theatre in particular, encourages community dialogue and initiative, one of the truest ways we can start to build a relationship of trust and close the gaps related to racial and cultural misunderstandings. We’re thrilled that the Victoria Police Department was open to having this important conversation with us .”

The workshops are facilitated by Transformational Theatre Practitioners, Lina de Guevara and Victor Porter.

This project is a partnership with the Victoria Police. A Welcome BC Program, this project is made possible through funding from the Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia. Two performances remain in the series, occurring on Monday, June 6th and Wednesday June 8th.

This project was funded by the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of International Trade.

Media Contact: Lauren Kelly,  lkelly@icavictoria.org or (250) 388-4728 ext. 124

For more information on the Police and Community Project contact ICA Arts & Outreach Coordinator Paulina Grainger at pgrainger@icavictoria.orgor 250-388-4728 ext. 138.

Background information:

The Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria (ICA) is a long-standing, non-profit organization that helps individuals and organizations connect across cultures. ICA provides information, support, and tools to help immigrants reach their goals. By engaging people through networks, education, and arts programming, ICA creates a welcoming community. www.icavictoria.org