In the east of Sri Lanka, working with the British Council and the Centre for Performing Arts, we established Shakthi, a new company of Tamil and Singhalese members who have all been affected by the long lasting civil war, which recently came to an end, leaving a fractured society.
Working in both languages, they have created plays around lives which have seen families and houses destroyed, education interrupted, economies collapsing and apathy and depression prevailing. The plays oblige the audience, all of whom will recognise the problems, to ask how they can emerge from these situations through their own efforts rather than waiting for outside help. Performances tour quite remote areas where prejudices about "the other" have built up and where the war has left a deeply damaged society.
In September 2010 the Shakthi group will be travelling to Switzerland, their first trip abroad as a Company, to perform at the British Council Switzerland conference Act 2: The Power of Theatre Post Conflict (See News).
"Until I joined Shakthi I had never spoken to one of them (the other community). Now we work together, we are friends, and we realise that they are just like us" - performer in the Shakthi group.